It's easy to confuse the Easter cactus with the Christmas cactus at first glance; their flowers are similar. But there's one big, obvious difference: Each one blooms around the time of the holiday for which it's named.
There is slight difference between the two species. An Easter cactus has leaves that are wide and round and trimmed with a red tint. The Christmas cactus' leaves are pointed.
The Easter and Christmas cactus flowers are similar. Both plants sprout beautiful star-like flowers in a variety of reds, pinks and whites, growing from the tips of leaves.
September and October are the pre-flowering months for Christmas cactus plants. The Easter cactus' pre-flowering time is January, February and March. Both species require that they be kept dry and cool until flower buds form.
The Easter cactus, a spring bloomer, has been considered to be a symbol of rebirth. The Christmas cactus is a sign of the holidays, similar to a poinsettia. Do not fertilize the plants when they are blooming because this will interfere with flowering.
After the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons, the plants should be given about a 30-day rest. Place them in a cool room and provide limited water. Don't worry if they lose a few leaves; it's normal.