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There is nothing more fun to grow than the orchid cactus; today, we will show you how. The orchid cacti have a unique draping growth suitable for hanging baskets. In addition, the orchid cactus flowers are showy and make a beautiful home addition.
So, whether you are a beginner or a professional gardener, we have the proper care tips to keep this fantastic plant thriving.
Plant Name: Epiphyllum
Other Name: Orchid cactus, Epiphyllum cactus, Epi cactus
Plant Type: Succulent plant
Native Areas: Central and South America
Light Requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Watering: Consistently moist soil
Fertilizer: Fertilizer for flowering plants
Growth: 2-10 feet tall
Soil Type: Fast-draining soil
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10+
More About Orchid Cacti
The orchid cactus is a tropical succulent belonging to the Epiphyllum family, hence the name Epi or Epiphyllum cactus. The succulents are native to the tropical forests of Central and South America.
While these cacti do not need soil to live, we grow orchid cacti in the soil at home. They can grow on rocks and take nutrients to moisture from debris and the air. With the draping smooth yet flattened stems, it looks great in a hanging basket.
The leaves grow from the middle woody stem, and the flowers have a cup form blooming on the end of the branches. Fluent flowers fill the air with a gorgeous scent.
Still, the flower buds vary from white, apricot, and coral to pink. Some have fragrant blooms, while others give off a strong aroma. When growing orchid cacti, the bloom time varies from one orchid cactus species to another.
The bloom time is mostly spring to fall, and the flowers look spectacular, but unfortunately, they do not last long.
Orchid Cactus Care Guide
Where can you grow this excellent plant before we get to the orchid cactus care? Well, you can grow orchid cacti indoors with a lot of bright light or place them outdoors with full sun and some shade. You can grow them in containers, like hanging baskets for the foliage to drape over the sides.
Finally, you can grow them outdoors to move indoors when it gets cold.
What Potting Medium Do Orchid Cactus Grow In?
Since orchid cactus plants are epiphytic, they do not need soil to grow. Instead, you can mount them outdoors on a log or board using sphagnum moss or tree branches when temperatures do not freeze.
But you will need to water them often using these techniques. But you can grow them in a loamy yet coarse soil mixture with good drainage. So well-draining soil is essential, aiming for a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
To make a potting medium, mix a standard potting soil with peat moss or coarse sand or replace it with pine bark and perlite. Or invest in epiphyllum cactus soil.
Light Requirements For The Flower Buds
Your cactus can thrive on a window sill or outside when warm enough. Still, they prefer full sun to light shade, depending on where you live. So if you notice the leaves turning yellow, it is a sign that your orchid cactus epiphyllum is receiving too much light.
The more sun the orchid cactus stems receive, the more blooms you will get. Still, to grow cacti in hot climates, ensure you provide them with afternoon shade to prevent the leaves from burning.
While in cooler regions, ensure your cactus thrives with morning and afternoon sun for the best blooms.
What is a Good Watering Schedule For The Cactus Orchid?
Orchid cactus thrives on proper watering to help sustain healthy growth, and it helps encourage the orchid cactus to bloom. The cactus orchid prefers to dry out as it cannot tolerate wet feet for too long.
Overwatering can lead to root rot; with overhead watering, your plant can get stem rot. Whether your orchid stands in direct light or dappled shade, we recommend you test the soil before watering.
In cooler regions, water sparingly, while in warmer areas, you may need to water more. We recommend using distilled or rainwater at room temperature to prevent root shock and the buildup of minerals and salts.
Tap water can lead to wilted growth, and remember the well-draining soil. Also, remember even if it has fleshy leaves, it does not enjoy drying out too much.
Temperature and Humidity
In the tropics, the orchid cactus epiphyllum grows in filtered light in humid climates. So, to keep them happy, you need to create the same environment for your plant to thrive.
So for indoor growing, you will need to provide more moisture using a small humidifier or pebble tray or grouping them with other humidity-loving plants
The Epiphyllum species can handle temperatures between 65-75°F and do well indoors or outdoors in a warm shaded spot. Still, extreme heat and cold can cause halted growth and damage to the leaves.
Freezing temperatures will kill your plant, and during winter, they need about ten weeks of 45-55°F at night and daytime temperatures of 55-65°F to help initiate reblooming.
Fertilizing Orchid Cactus Plants
For orchid cactus, care, feeding, and fertilizer play an essential part in the orchid cactus blooms. Feed your orchid cacti with compost tea, organic houseplant feeds, or a balanced fertilizer for flowering plants from spring to fall.
Feed your orchid cactus plants two times a month when using liquid feeds and slow-release feeds monthly when flowering
Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus Pruning
Regarding orchid cactus care, you need not prune Epiphyllum varieties regularly. Pruning orchid cactus is the only time pruning it is required to control the size or remove damaged foliage.
The best time for pruning your outdoor plants is after flowering, using a clean pruner and cutting back the leaves at the bases. You can save the healthy stem cuttings from propagating your orchid cactus indoors.
By removing the foliage, it helps encourage flowering as well.
Potting Cactus Orchid
The cactus orchid prefers to be root-bound as it encourages more blooms. Only repot your orchid cactus when needed. As it grows with shallow roots, you may repot every two to three years.
Also, transplant your orchid cactus to a pot size up after the bloom cycle completes.
Propagation Using Orchid Cactus Cuttings
The best way to propagate is by using leaf or stem cuttings.
For cuttings, follow these steps:
In spring, you can remove a leaf from a healthy branch about four inches after they flower.
Leave the leaf to be callous for a couple of days.
Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone, plant it in a cactus potting mix, and keep the soil moist.
The plant’s roots will form with new growth in about five weeks.
Orchid Cactus Varieties
In the Epiphyllum species, you get different types of orchid cacti in different shapes and colors to grow.
Dutchman’s pipe cactus has smooth yet scalloped leaves with a starburst of white flowers growing from the edges.
Queen of the Night is a light orchid cactus with scalloped leaf edges and scaly spikes producing white night-blooming flowers with a cup shape.
The fishbone orchid cactus has long draping leaves with widespread teeth, looking like a fish spine producing bicolored white-pink blooms with thin petals. It also goes by the name pink orchid cactus.
Hooker’s orchid cactus has smooth long oval leaves that sprout fragrant flower spikes, and it is a night-blooming variety with white blooms.
Common Diseases and Pests
Regarding orchid cactus care epiphyllum varieties, the most common pests are spider mites, scale, mealybugs, and whiteflies. You can use an insecticidal soap or neem oil to control infestations. You can also trim away the infested branches as well.
Common diseases are fungus gnats, stem, and root rot.
Frequently Asked Questions
During winter, your orchid cacti must go through a wintering period of up to ten weeks to produce blooms.
While the two plants look similar with their fleshy stems and bloom, the Holiday cactus belongs to the Schlumbergera genus. Still, you can propagate cutting of the flat leaf stems for growing in a potting mix.
The flower has a sweet smell to attract bees and other pollinators to the garden.
The moonflower cactus blooms once a year for only 12 hours.
Epiphyllum flowers typically last for about 24 to 48 hours. However, the duration can vary depending on factors such as environmental conditions, cultivar, and overall plant health.
Whether you want to buy, sell, or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!
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