Epiphyllum, also known as “orchid cactus” and “epiphytic cacti,” is very popular due to its unique growth habit and large bright blooms. All the epiphytic plants grow as hosts on other plants, rather than in a parasitic fashion.
The plant has flat, leaflike, broad stems slightly scalloped at the edge, with many woody midvein strings. The epiphyllum cactus is considered the family of some of the most unbelievable and largest variants of flowers in plants’ whole world.
These plants are usually found as greenhouse specimens or houseplants. And water balancing act is the most important factor in caring for epiphyllum. You can’t leave them dry at all, but overwatering them is similar to killing them indirectly! Here are a few important steps to grow epiphyllum perfectly to achieve beautiful flowers as well as fruits.
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All you need to know about Epiphyllum
Epiphyllum is considered the most preferred plant for hanging baskets as they can grow 18 to 30 inches (46-76 cm) long with their jointed stems. These amazingly beautiful plants are native to South and Central America and have as many as 20 different species! The plant stems are crowned with stunningly gorgeous flowers that usually last for only a couple of days, but keep blossoming from the early winter to the end of spring. They are considered as one of the most peculiar plant species as they grow best in warm temperatures with short periods of light.
You need to know the perfect growing conditions if you are trying to know how to propagate epiphyllum cactus. The cacti grow perfectly in rotting vegetation, tree crotches, and tropical forests. They can even live off the organic wastes and leaf mold. When it comes to cultivation, standard potting soil supported with sand and peat is very suitable.
Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus – Not Necessarily an Orchid!
Although it is termed as “epiphyllum orchid cactus,” it is actually not an orchid, but a cactus. But it is very closed to orchid as it is an epiphyte, and of course, still not a parasitic! It absorbs sustenance directly from the air, instead of absorbing from the vegetation process.
These are not only some of the most beautiful hanging plants, but are easy to care and handle. There is many different miniature, basket, compact, free-flowing hybrids, and can make your home look stunningly beautiful.
Orchid cactus care: Epiphyllum care
If you are looking for answers to “how to propagate and caring for epiphyllum,” this section is going to be very important for you.
Like other sunning summer-flowering plants, tuberous begonia, epiphyllum love shades for proper growth, and hot climates are nearly perfect for them. You can place them near a protective north wall or under a tree with dappled shade during the summer season.
During other seasons like spring, fall, and winter, the plants need direct sunlight. Epiphyllum flowers blossom perfectly in high temperatures with some humidity in the air. If there is no humidity in your surroundings, you can opt for spraying the mist on stems, except when there are buds or flowers on the pants. Avoid the accumulation of clogging dust as much as you can!
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Soils and repotting
In addition to knowing how to root epiphyllum cuttings, you must have to know the perfect type of soil and pot to ensure the proper growth of the plant.
The general conception of using mixed soil for cactus is not suitable at all for growing orchid cactus. Whether at homes or tropical regions, they dwell a lot on other trees, feed mainly on decaying organic matter, and get fair exposure of air.
If you feel that the pot you are using is not big enough, transfer the plant only to the next size, rather than transferring it into a large bucket.
- You need to ensure that the pot is filled with porous and soft soil, and the pot can hold a bit of moisture, and at the same time, can drain very quickly.
- Always opt for coarse, slightly acidic, not finely sifted soil to enhance the chances of healthy and timely growth.
- Try to add some crushed charcoal for proper aeration and purification.
- Avoid fertilizers rich with nitrogen.
- To ensure proper caring for the epiphyllum, don’t over pot it. Instead, keep slightly root-bounded.
- Don’t repot the plants before at least a couple of years.
- Usually, epiphyllum needs transplanting after a month of flowering, but avoid it until you feel the requirement.
- Avoid watering for three to four days after repotting and ensure watering sparingly for the next four weeks.
Water and feeding
Epiphyllum remains in the rest phase during winter and needs only a bit of water to ensure stems do not shiver. Most varieties of epiphyllum start growing in early spring. And for proper and constant growth, they need enough moisture in the air and roots.
They need proper ventilation, water, and complete protection from direct sunlight and extreme heat throughout the growth. During dormancy, ensure giving the plants a drying off period, but avoid a complete dry phase.
Once the dormancy period is over and growth starts again in February, feed regularly but mildly with weak liquid foliar cactus fertilizer solutions every 12 to 14 days.
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Understanding the early bloomers phase is important to learn how to propagate epiphyllum cactus.
Instead of having leaves, these plants only have branches or stems from having two-edged structures. Bloomers appear along with these triangular structures. Differences in color, varieties of flowers, and the branch’s shape are three of the chief differences in various varieties of epiphyllum.
The flowering starts in February when the plants are young, and most of the plants keep flowering until July. After the end of the blooming period, they go through the autumn growth, and then comes the period of dormancy.
Once the buds start showing on the branches, it is recommended to move the pots outdoors, only in the mild weather. According to experts, the conditions during buds forming should not be changed at all. Most of the varieties spend almost half of their lives in a greenhouse or a lath house.
How to Grow from Cutting or Seeds
Most of the epiphyllum species are easily grown through seeds. But if you want to know how to root epiphyllum cuttings, here is the answer for you.
All varieties of epiphyllum can easily be propagated by cutting long stems having a stronger center stem. Stems are usually kept aside for 5 to 10 days until the cut end becomes hard.
Once the cutting end is hard enough, insert it one inch deep in dry, coarse sand exposed to good light, but not direct sunlight. When the cuttings are potted and rooted, avoid watering for a few days.
Give extra time and care to the cuttings to avoid bruises and broken spots, as they can give entry to the fungus – and all of your efforts with hopes will go in vain!
Different classes of growth habit
Epiphyllum Ackermannii is very famous for its “ugly” appearance in the beginning phase of its life. But it suddenly gets a surprisingly beautiful look with sizeable pops, scarlet, and trumpet from almost all the joints. This variety is triangular and is nothing less than a thrill for a plant lover.
The real photogenic prima donna is the highlight of the second class. There are fleshy stems scalloped around the edges. A beautiful reddish appearance characterizes the new growth.
Most of the varieties are of sprawling habit and need enough support to take a lot of space.
When it comes to flowers, they are usually 6 inches or more in diameter, curved and drooping like a pipe, with a conspicuous cluster of stems in the center, and numerous petals. The color of the flower is a mixed shade of red and purple.
They look very similar to night-blossoming cereus (epiphyllumoxypetalum and other hybrids), but are day blooming, larger in size, and are long-lasting.
Cactus Varieties and Options
Caring for epiphyllum also depends heavily on the wide range of varieties. Plant specialists indicate thousands of various orchid cacti, and most of them are originally white and blossom mainly at night.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is the most popular and is also known as “the queen of the night,” mainly due to its graceful, chaste white, long-tubed flowers. The flowers can easily work like perfume, especially during summer evenings.
There are many other varieties, especially after they are crossed with their counterparts and even other genera – and that’s how we are fortunate to see today’s varieties of beautiful, day-blossoming hybrids.
One variety of epiphyllum can give birth to as many as seventy-five different varieties! And that’s why knowing how to root epithelium cuttings becomes even more important!
Most of the plants give white or pale-yellow flowers, but some other colors like red, pink, rosy-lavender, orange, amber, copper, orchid, purple, salmon, and a lot of other combinations and blends.
Let’s have a look at some of the other, very popular varieties.
Aporophyllum – Also known as “rat-tail cactus”, is famous for round stems, and can reach six feet of height, and usually promises for an extended flowering season. The word “aporocactus” is derived from the Greek origin “aporia,” meaning “impenetrable.” And that’s most probably because of the prickly and knotted properties of stems which make touching the plant very difficult.
Unlike most of the other variants, sporophylls grow perfectly in brighter light. They even need a few hours of sunlight. Providing them with downwards space for growth is the best option, as their stems bend very easily.
Diaspora – Plants with ribbed, slender stems, and carmine flowers of two-inch size and unusual appearance.
ChiapsiaNelsoni – Blossoms in early spring, with lilac-pink flowers and thin stems.
Disophyllum– One of the new hybrids with vivid red-violet, tubular flowers, and beautiful, three-foot hanging stems.
Problems Related to Epiphyllum and their Solutions
Looking for different types of problems and their solutions is another important aspect of caring for epiphyllum. Here are a few common problems with their solutions.
- Dropped flower buds – Once the buds appear, avoid moving the plant so often. Irregular changes in light won’t help buds’ growth, and there are very high chances of them falling off. Although these tropical hybrids live very long, taking care of their requirements is very important, and correct placement is one of them.
- Check for different bugs – Mealybugs and scale insects commonly attack these plants. Don’t ignore the appearance of bugs around the plants. In addition to proper treatment, isolate the affected plant for a few days to avoid other plants’ infection.
- Limp stems – Over watering is one of the major problems for these plants. They don’t like it at all! Over watering can cause limped stems that may turn blackish at the base. If you notice something like that, cut off the stems at the soil level as soon as possible.
- Aphids – Aphids are sap-sucking insects that can affect the growth and look of the plants. They often leave yellowish sticky substance on the stems, which can inspire the growth of molds. Some of the aphids even transmit different types of plant viruses. So, identifying these aphids is very important if you are trying to understand “how to root epiphyllum cuttings.”
There are plenty of different varieties of epiphyllum. And all of them are extraordinarily attractive and beautiful. They can make your home or workplace look like a small, stunning garden. Now, you must be familiar with everything necessary for proper care of epiphyllum plants. They are unique; they are among the most atypical types of plants and need extra and special care. You will have to do some extra work if you want to grow epiphyllum, but in return, you will be amazed by a completely different type of natural beauty, and some refreshing scents as a bonus!