Epiphyllums are such incredibly beautiful, magnificent plants. Everyone should own at least one, or maybe two or three! Don't you agree?
Commonly known as orchid cactus, epiphyllums remind me of the old-fashioned Christmas cactus my grandmother Mary grew; only these plants are on steroids! The flowers can be as large as a dinner plate, thirteen inches across with striking iridescent colors like a kaleidoscope. You think there must be a catch to the story. They probably require expensive lighting equipment, unique soil, humidifiers, and after all your work, they will wither and die for no reason whatsoever. Right? Well, hold onto your trowels. Epiphyllums are relatively easy-to-grow succulents.
Obtain an epiphyllum cutting or plant from an online store or nursery. If you obtained a fresh cutting, store it in a cool dark place for 10- 14 days until calluses form over the stem's end. Plant the "little darling" in one part perlite (1/8 – 1/2 size diameter), three parts soil, and 1-2 tablespoons orchid bark. Keep the soil damp but never wet. Use a plastic pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. Plastic retains moisture where clay allows moisture to evaporate because of the porous nature of clay. My epiphyllums are outside, hanging in the shade of the porch. They receive water in the morning, which is allowed to drain from the pot. You need to water more often if temperatures are high enough to dry the soil. Your watering schedule may be different from mine. It all depends on how dry the winds are and the temperature. Feed 1/3 – 1/2 strength of a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) during the winter months, but from May to late August, use a 2-10-10 formula. These numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium in the fertilizer. Guard against temperatures below forty degrees Fahrenheit. Like orchids, they will not withstand the cold. They like a cozy warm house, so bring them inside for the winter.
An epiphyllum grower and photographer, Steve Reedy, informed me that I shouldn't be discouraged if my plants are not blooming. It may take several years after planting, until the plant has grown into the size of the pot. They like to be "crowded."
Try growing one or two or three of these delightful plants!
Thank you, Steve Reedy, for the wonderful pictures!
National Garden Clubs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility. There is a local club near you, click here to find one and join. Subscribe to the NGC’s blog by entering your e-mail here. You will receive an e-mail when there is a new blog article on the NGC website. You do not have to be an NGC member to subscribe.