Orchid Cactus - Epiphyllum hybrid

Orchid cactus (Epiphyllum hybrid) is truly a delight for the indoor gardener with its magnificent flowers that look like water lilies rather than orchids.  The large, showy funnel-shaped flowers are very beautiful. These stunning plants are native to the tropics of Central and South America and bloom in various shades of red, pink, orange, white, violet and yellow.

The blooms occur in early spring when the plant is about three years old or older on long, flat, wavy edged stems with tiny hair-like spines at the joints.

Orchid Cactus pink flower

These exotic, tropical plants are also known as the Epi cactus or Jungle cactus.  They are easy-to-grow and you can grow these plants in a pot; however, they will require some type of stake for support.  Ideally, they do very well displayed trailing from tall planters or pedestals and hanging baskets.

In order to get that spectacular floral display, you must provide your plant cool nighttime temperatures and dry conditions during the winter months for the buds to set. When the buds appear, you must keep plant away from drafty areas with extreme heat and cold temps such as doorways and heating vents.

Do not move plant around once buds appear.  The buds are very sensitive to changes in light and temperature and will drop if moved, resulting in loss of flowers.

Orchid Cactus Care Tips

Light: They prefer bright, filtered light (near a sunny south, east, or west window), and will burn if exposed to too much sun. They don't like extreme heat and should be kept out of areas that receive more than two hours of full sun a day.

Water: water freely and drain off excess water, allow the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce water during winter to just enough to wet the roots, as the plant goes in the dormant stage.

Humidity: The Epiphyllum hybrid will do fine with average humidity (25% or more). During the summer mist plants using a spray bottle filled with tepid water at least once per day. Humidity around 50-60% will keep the orchid cactus happy. A room humidifier may be used indoors to keep the moisture in this range.

Temperature: Plants do well in temperatures of 65° to 75°F (16° to 24°C) during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night. During winter, keep plants 60-65ºF (16-18ºC) and 40-55ºF (4-12ºC) at night.

Soil:  Potting soil should be a well-aerated potting mix of 50% or more organic matter. You can make your own by combining one part regular potting soil with one part leaf mold and one part perlite or coarse sand.

Fertilization:  Fertilize monthly during the plant’s active period of growth in spring and summer with a balance plant food.

Propagation:  Epiphyllums are easily propagated from segments of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) or by cutting during the spring.  Stem cuttings should be allowed to callus over for a week before planting in the propagation mixture.  Cuttings should be shallowly planted upside-down, with only two of the growing tip’s serrations in the soil. Water sparingly, but never let the soil dry out. Cutting will soon root, and you will have a new plant. 

Repotting: Repot your Orchid cactus every two (2) years in a well-aerated potting mixture in a pot that is one size larger as plant should be slightly rootbound.  If the new stem growth is long and spindly move to higher light.

The Orchid cactus  is the perfect plant to bring beauty and life to your environment with such cheerful and inviting flowers.

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