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Epiphyllum hybrids - Orchid cactus

The Plant: Epiphyllum Cactus Orchids are colourful and easy to look after. An unusual, rather strange-looking plant, with fleshy green flattened broad stems with wavy edges. The beauty of the Epiphyllums is in the colourful bracts and flowerheads in bold colours of orange, red, pink, or creamy white.

Its needs: Good light, but not too much direct sun, and a rich well-draining potting mix. Warmth and humidity essential.

Care: Allow potting compost to dry out completely between waterings. Use a low nitrogen feed on a monthly basis from the beginning of the growing season. Reduce watering and feed during winter. Keep Orchid cactus warm. Take stem cuttings of Epiphyllum cactus orchids in early spring, place these upright in a sandy potting mix. Watch for scale pest and mealy bug.

Epiphyllum flower indoor plantEpiphyllum Cactus

Good for: Without its brightly coloured flowers and bracts most people would give the Orchid cactus a miss, but once in bloom the attraction of this Epiphyllum can be seen. Nice to have on display when in flower, but possibly kept in the spare room when not at its best. Unusual foliage of flattened stems.

Comprehensive Guide to Growing and Caring for Epiphyllum Hybrids (Orchid Cactus)

Epiphyllum hybrids, known as Orchid Cacti, are fascinating plants renowned for their spectacular, large flowers and attractive leaf-like stems. Here's how to grow and care for these unique plants:

Ideal Climate & Lighting Conditions

Native to the jungles of Central and South America, Epiphyllums are tropical cacti that thrive in warm, humid conditions. They prefer temperatures between 50-85°F (10-29°C).

Unlike most cacti, Orchid Cacti enjoy indirect sunlight or partial shade. Direct, strong sunlight can cause sunburn on the leaves. Indoors, place them near an east or west-facing window.

Soil Requirements

Epiphyllums prefer a well-draining, slightly acidic soil mix. You can create a suitable mix by combining one part potting soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or coarse sand. Orchid potting mix also works well.

Watering & Fertilization

Keep the soil lightly moist during the growing season (spring and summer). Reduce watering in the fall and allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings in winter.

Fertilize your Orchid Cactus every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength. Refrain from fertilizing in the winter.


Epiphyllums are easily propagated from stem cuttings. In spring or early summer, take a cutting of about 4-6 inches long, let it dry for a few days to form a callus at the cut end, then plant it in a pot with well-draining soil. Keep the soil lightly moist until roots develop.

Comprehensive Guide to Propagating Epiphyllums

Epiphyllums, or Orchid Cacti, are beautiful and exotic plants that can be easily propagated with a little bit of knowledge and care. Here's how:

Timing and Choosing Cuttings

The best time to take cuttings is in late spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. Choose healthy, disease-free stems for propagation. If possible, select a stem that's at least six months old, as older stems tend to root more easily.

Cutting and Callus Formation
  1. With a clean, sharp knife or pruning shears, cut a leaf-like stem that's about 4-6 inches long.
  2. Leave the cutting in a dry, warm place for a few days to allow a callus to form over the cut end. This step is crucial as it helps prevent rotting when the cutting is planted.
Soil and Potting Mix

Epiphyllums prefer a well-draining, slightly acidic soil mix. A mixture of one part potting soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or coarse sand works well. Alternatively, you can use an orchid potting mix.

To help promote root growth, you can add a root-promoting hormone to the planting hole before inserting the cutting.

Planting the Cutting
  1. Fill a pot with your chosen soil mix, leaving about an inch of space from the top.
  2. Make a hole in the center of the soil deep enough to hold the cutting.
  3. Insert the callused end of the cutting into the hole and firm the soil around it to hold it upright.
  4. Water lightly to settle the soil around the cutting.
Care after Planting

Place the pot in bright, indirect light and keep it in a warm location. Epiphyllums prefer temperatures between 50-85°F (10-29°C).

Keep the soil lightly moist but avoid overwatering, which can lead to rot. Once the cutting has rooted and starts to show new growth, care for it as you would a mature plant, with regular watering and feeding.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: The cutting rots before it can root.

Solution: This often results from overwatering or planting the cutting before a callus has formed. Allow the cut end to dry thoroughly before planting and keep the soil lightly moist, not waterlogged.

Challenge: The cutting fails to root.

Solution: This could be due to poor lighting conditions, incorrect temperatures, or using a stem that's too young or unhealthy. Ensure your cutting is taken from a healthy, mature stem, and provide it with the right conditions for growth.

With patience and proper care, propagating your own Epiphyllums can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby!

Disease Prevention

Overwatering and poor ventilation can lead to fungal diseases such as root rot or stem rot. Avoid overwatering, ensure good air circulation, and use a well-draining soil mix to prevent these issues.

Pests like mealybugs and scale insects can be controlled using insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.

Comprehensive Guide to Diseases and Pests Affecting Epiphyllum Cacti

Epiphyllums, or Orchid Cacti, boast spectacular blooms and unique leaf-like stems. Despite their exotic beauty, these tropical cacti can be susceptible to a range of diseases and pests if not properly cared for.

Common Diseases
  • Root Rot

    Symptoms: Yellowing or wilting leaves, soft or blackened roots.

    Treatment: Remove the plant from the pot, trim away rotten roots, and repot in fresh, well-draining soil. Reduce watering and ensure good air circulation.

    Prevention: Avoid overwatering and ensure the pot has good drainage.

  • Stem Rot

    Symptoms: Black or brown spots on the stems that may spread and cause the stem to collapse.

    Treatment: Cut away the affected areas with a clean, sharp tool, allowing healthy parts to form a callus before repotting.

    Prevention: Maintain good air circulation and avoid overwatering.

Common Pests
  • Mealybugs

    Symptoms: White, cotton-like clusters on stems and leaves, stunted growth.

    Treatment: Wipe off with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

    Prevention: Regularly inspect your plant for signs of infestation.

  • Scale Insects

    Symptoms: Brown or black bumps on stems and leaves, sticky residue and sooty mold on leaves.

    Treatment: Scrape off visible bugs and treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

    Prevention: Keep your plant healthy as scale insects are often attracted to stressed plants.

  • Spider Mites

    Symptoms: Tiny webbing on the plant, yellow or brown spots on leaves.

    Treatment: Spray the plant with water to dislodge mites, or use a miticide or neem oil.

    Prevention: Maintain high humidity around your plant, as spider mites prefer dry conditions.

Remember, the key to keeping your Epiphyllum healthy is attentive care – provide the right lighting, temperature, and watering conditions, and regularly inspect your plant for signs of trouble. With the right care, your Orchid Cactus will reward you with stunning blooms for many years to come!

Additional Tips

Flowering: To encourage blooming, provide a cool rest period in winter by reducing water and maintaining temperatures around 50-60°F (10-15°C).

Repotting: Repot your Orchid Cactus every 2-3 years or when it becomes root-bound. Spring is the best time to repot.

Pruning: Pruning can help maintain the size and shape of your plant. The best time to prune is in spring after flowering.

With the right care, Epiphyllum hybrids can be a captivating addition to your plant collection. Their stunning blooms are worth the effort!

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