Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus Care Dos and Don’ts
If you’re interested in growing beautiful cacti at home, start with this guide to growing the Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus. Its distinct characteristics make it well-loved by indoor gardeners.
In this comprehensive post, we will tackle all of the dos and don’ts that you’ll need to know to keep your Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus looking healthy! We also have a few recommendations if you are interested in buying this plant.
What Is Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus?
The Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus, also called the Climbing cactus, is famous for its vibrant flowers. Although it is called an orchid cactus, it is not an orchid but a cactus. However, like orchids, the Orchid Cactus is an epiphyte, but it’s not parasitic. It absorbs sustenance from the air instead of the vegetation on which it climbs.
Another fascinating fact about this beautiful plant is that it doesn’t have leaves. It has leaf-like stems or branches that have two-edged structures where flowers bloom. With over a dozen species and many associated hybrids, this plant of varying shapes and sizes is best displayed in a hanging basket, which perfectly displays its cascading flowers.
Epiphyllums don’t run out of surprising facts. Many plants from the Epiphyllum species are known to bear small edible fruits. It’s believed to be similar to the dragon fruit, which is a relative plant.
This gorgeous plant is considered a perennial that thrives in humidity. It grows well near an east or west-facing window indoors.
The Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus is more than just a houseplant. It can be grown outside in specific -climates. Hardiness zones 10-11 are the ideal locations for this plant.
Origin And Family
The Orchid Cactus comes from the Epiphyllum genus, which belongs to the Cactaceae family. The natural habitat of this epiphytic plant is the rainforests of Central and South America. Recently, it has become a popular houseplant that is typically easy to moderate to care for.
The Epiphyllum genus was added by Adrian Hardy Haworth in 1812, based on Carl Linnaeus’ discovery of the Phyllanthus (later renamed Discocactus Phyllanthus).
More hybrids emerged in the mid-1800s in Germany, Belgium, and the USA. These early hybrids were crossed with the Phyllanthus (Crenatum and other cacti genera, like Selenicereus, Aporocactus, and Heliocereus) to produce the larger, more vivid, and more fragrant flowers we enjoy today.
Where To Buy
Are you looking to buy Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus plants? You can find it at a nursery or a home improvement store for reasonably affordable prices.
When shopping for houseplants online, we recommend Etsy– a reliable marketplace where most of our plants came from!
The pricing of Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus ranges from $10 for small plants to $25 for larger or more mature plants.
Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus Plant Size
When grown as a houseplant, the Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus grows to a height of 2-10 feet and spreads to a width of 2 inches. It’s a slow grower that flourishes when placed near an east or west-facing window.
Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus Care Needs
With appropriate care, most plants, including Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus, are simple to cultivate at home.
It favors humidity and evenly moist soil with the right amount of sunlight.
You should only water this Epiphyllum Cactus when the soil’s surface is dry, about 1/3 inch.
Like other plants, you’ll require suitable drainage holes in a terracotta or clay pot.
The Orchid Cactus is typically considered easy to moderate to care for in most circles. For growing conditions, the primary considerations are the amount of water and the well-draining soil that this plant has.
The Orchid Cactus grows to a mature height of 2-10 feet as a houseplant. Typically, you will notice faster and bushier growth in the early spring and summer.
The majority of Epiphyllum species, including the Orchid Cactus, grow at a slow rate.
This gorgeous plant has adjusted well to indoor living and can thrive in almost any type of potting material. For most growers, terracotta or clay planters will work best for Orchid Cactus.
For sizing, you’d typically want to use a medium pot for most plants. Use a heavier pot to prevent this plant from toppling over as much as possible. Your plant should be protected from root rot as long as your pot includes drainage holes at the bottom.
Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus "Irette" for you this morn ♡— Tali (@talius) January 18, 2019
Have a vibrant Friday 😉 pic.twitter.com/OuZf0VOq6A
This Epiphyllum typically needs to be repotted every 2-3 years, or you will see roots pushing out of the drainage holes. When this occurs, carefully remove the plant from its terracotta or clay pot but be careful not to disrupt the leading root ball as this plant can be pretty sensitive. This prima donna plant will let you know its distaste for being disturbed when you see some of its flowers falling off. It’s best to repot after it blooms to minimize root disturbance.
When repotting, transfer the plant into a pot that’s a size bigger. The roots will adjust quicker when planted in the same standard commercial potting soil they are used to.
A standard potting soil is the most recommended option for the Orchid Cactus. To make your soil mix, use components such as perlite, back, cocoa chips, and pumice for a porous potting mix. Adjust the ratio accordingly so that the final mixture is well-aerated. Remember that this plant prefers a growing medium that stays evenly moist.
The soil type should always support good drainage to avoid rot and other diseases. We suggest choosing potting mixes such as the following:
pH For Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus
A soil pH of roughly 6.0-6.5, which is acidic, is ideal for the Orchid Cactus. For newbies worried about the soil’s acidity, you can purchase a simple pH meter device to assess it.
Apply sulfur or aluminum sulfate to reduce pH levels. To elevate the pH level, use baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash.
Proper watering is a vital factor for houseplants. Too much water might invite diseases like fungal infections and root rot. On the contrary, too little and the plants might end up with browning, undernourished leaves. For optimal health, Orchid Cactus generally prefers evenly moist soil.
Sticking your finger in the pot is a simple way to check for moisture. When the soil’s surface is dry about 1/3 inch, it’s time to give your plant a drink.
Orchid Cactus require drainage holes and aerated soil. Generally, you don’t want your plant to sit in water for a lengthy amount of time.
This houseplant loves bright indirect light for approximately 6-8 hours daily. Too much sun and foliage will get scorched. Too little light and its growth may get stunted and produce very few blooms.
If you’re worried that your Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus isn’t getting the right amount of light, you could either move it closer to a window or use artificial lights. Here are some general options to consider:
Avoid putting your epiphytic cactus in direct sunlight, as this could severely damage or even kill it.
The Orchid Cactus’s growing season is in the spring and summer. During this time, fertilize your plant every other week using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.
When this plant’s development naturally slows in the colder seasons, its dormant period, you don’t need to fertilize at all.
Propagating Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus
Perhaps you’re impatient to see your Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus sprout new leaves. Pruning back the stem to stimulate new growth points is one planting approach. Usually, the cuttings you’ve pruned back can propagate so that you can grow a new baby plant!
Check out these various propagation methods for you to choose from.
Stem Cuttings In Soil
Stem cuttings planted in the soil are a hassle-free way to propagate your Orchid Cactus. It is recommended to propagate this plant when it’s actively growing from spring to fall.
1. Cut. Locate a healthy portion of your plant that has recent growth. Make a 3-inch-long incision with some visible nodes. To avoid bacterial infection, use only sanitized scissors.
2. Plant. Bury the nodes of the cutting in wet soil. Then, press the dirt around the stem to ensure its stability.
3. Maintain. Moisten the soil often to promote quicker roots. Set the plant near a window that obtains bright, indirect sunlight.
4. Wait. New buds on the upper leaves should appear in around 2-3 weeks. This signifies your cutting has rooted!
Humidity And Aeration
This Epiphyllum is a stunning plant that prefers high humidity between 50%-70%.
If your Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus has curling or crispy leaves with brown rims, you may consider getting a humidifier. This device is designed to significantly raise the humidity in a room by constantly releasing steam.
Ideal Temperature For Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus
Like most Epiphyllum plants, your Orchid Cactus will do best in a slightly colder location. Keep the temperature range within 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since houseplants are sensitive to temperature changes, keep your Orchid Cactus away from heat sources like vents, hand dryers, heaters, and other appliances. Similarly, avoid exposing your plant to chilly winds and frost periods throughout the winter months.
The Orchid Cactus can produce beautiful flowers that are large red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, white, or bicolored from spring to summer, or during its growth period.
These epiphytic cacti are not hazardous to children or pets. According to the ASPCA, it will not hurt dogs or cats if consumed, and there are no toxic elements in the plant.
Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems
Overall, I would say that the Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some easy tips for curing common ailments and general suggestions to keep this plant healthy.
Epiphyllum hybrid/Orchid Cactus ‘Three Oranges’ for you this morning ❤️— Tali (@talius) November 16, 2021
Have an exotic Tuesday 😄 pic.twitter.com/DYfnwqTIGM
Unfortunately, spider mites are widespread, and Orchid Cactus is particularly vulnerable. Spider mite damage appears on the plant’s leaves as tiny brown or yellow patches. You might also see fine silk webbing when the infestation is severe.
Start by spraying your Orchid Cactus with water from a sink nozzle or a pressure sprayer. This dislodges the spider mites from the plant. If the first method fails, an organic pyrethrin spray will serve you well.
If you desire a more organic approach, releasing ladybugs in your indoor growing space can aid in reducing spider mite populations. There’s also a beetle known as the “Spider Mite Destroyer,” which may be challenging to acquire, but the name speaks for itself!
If you detect your Orchid Cactus drooping, yellowing, or growing slower than normal, it might be attributed to fungus gnats. These gnats resemble little mosquitoes that fly about your plant.
When you see these moisture-loving bugs, turn to bottom-watering instead of pouring water from above to keep the topsoil dry. Another means is to cover your topsoil with diatomaceous earth. The larvae will be dehydrated, and the adults will be discouraged from laying further eggs.
Fungus gnat larvae can be exterminated by soaking the soil in four parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide during severe infestations.
Aphids are tiny insects that will consume the sap of your Orchid Cactus. Some aphids are crawlers, and some are winged. They may come in colors of brown, black, red, green, white, and many others.
Inspect for aphids on the underside of leaves, on delicate areas of the stem, and on shoots that have not unfurled yet. If you find these insects (usually in a cluster), act quickly before they spread to other houseplants!
First, cover the soil with a plastic bag. Then, give your plant a thorough wash using soap and water. You can even use a sponge to make sure all surfaces are covered. After washing, isolate your plant in a shaded area with good airflow so its leaves won’t burn from the soap.
If the aphids come back, spray your Orchid Cactus with neem oil, horticultural oil, or rubbing alcohol. Remember to dilute these products first.
Mealybugs may infest your Orchid Cactus. These little parasites damage your Epiphyllum by inserting a feeding tube into the plant tissues and sucking on the sap. They can eventually weaken or even kill your plant.
Soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol to remove them, then use its tip to remove each mealybug manually. Neem oil can also be sprayed on the leaves to suffocate these bugs.
Brown Leaf Tips
One common reason for browning edges on your Orchid Cactus’s leaves is a soil build-up of salts and minerals. This usually happens if you apply too much fertilizer or use chemically-treated tap water.
Another reason for browning leaf tips is the lack of moisture. Water your plant appropriately, and improve your indoor humidity.
The leaves of your Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus might start to droop if it’s not getting the adequate amount of moisture and light it needs. Browse through our Water and Light content above to learn about the best ways to care for your plant.
Drooping leaves could also signify low humidity. Be sure to check the humidity levels in your area and ensure that it matches your plant’s needs.
If you notice that the leaves of your Orchid Cactus are turning yellow, you will need to trace any recent adjustments in your usual care practices or the weather.
Overwatering, under-fertilizing, too much bright light, lack of light, root damage, temperature swings, and pests can cause yellowing leaves to this indoor plant.
Yellow epiphyllum orchid cactus for you this morning ♡— Tali (@talius) July 22, 2017
Have a glowing Saturday 😉 pic.twitter.com/pf74V7qJ2v
The two most typical causes of rotting roots are poor drainage and overwatering.
Plant your Epiphyllum in standard commercial potting soil and keep it evenly moist. Water only when the soil’s surface is dry, about 1/3 inch.
Similar Plants to Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus
Love Orchid Cactus? Here are some varieties of the Orchid Cacti you should try:
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, sometimes known as the “Queen of the Night,” is a well-liked species valued for its unusually big, fragrant, and night-blooming blooms. The Dutchman’s pipe cactus is the name given to the plant by the funnel-shaped blossom.
Epiphyllum Phyllanthus, called the Climbing Cactus, maybe the smaller epi for you. Although the flowers are smaller than some types, the lovely pink tint in the center is striking.
Epiphyllum’ Wendy’: Rather than blooming at night, this epiphyllum hybrid produces enormous pink blooms in the daytime. They lack the scent of real epiphyllum species, though.
Do you love growing cacti? Check out our cactus beginner’s guide!
The Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus, with its attractive flowers, is the perfect addition to any plant lover’s collection.
Whether you’re just starting as an indoor gardener or a long-time hobbyist learning more about this particular plant, we hope you’ve learned some helpful tips from us to grow your Epiphyllum Orchid Cactus successfully!
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