Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum Cactus): Care and Growing Guide

With wide, flattened leaf-like stems and huge, showy flowers, the orchid cactus is a lovely succulent plant. Most people keep these flowering cacti as houseplants because of the orchid cactus flowers. White, orange, yellow, pink, and red hues adorn the wide cup-shaped or funnel-shaped blooms. The fact that certain orchid cactus species merely bloom once a year at night is an uncommon trait.

The queen of the night cactus is the most well-known orchid cactus. This night-blooming cactus only blossoms during a single night of the year. Several nocturnal cacti are white Epiphyllum cactus. The blossoms of certain orchid cacti, on the other hand, stay on the trailing stems for a few weeks and bloom at night.

Providing the appropriate care for an orchid cactus will ensure that it blooms. The optimal quantity of light, a chilly spell during the winter, moist earth, and low-nitrogen fertilizer are all required by blooming orchid cacti. Every year around June and July, you can enjoy delicately fragranced flowers if you take orchid cactus care correctly.

Growing an orchid cactus is a subject covered in this article. You’ll discover how to encourage frequent blooming by ensuring proper indoor conditions. Moreover, if you reside in a subtropical or tropical environment, useful guidelines will assist you develop an orchid cactus outdoors.

Orchid Cactus Care

Grow the Epiphyllum plant in moist, well-drained soil and bright indirect sunlight to care for an orchid cactus. After the top 1″ (2.5 cm) of soil is dry, water the forest cactus. To encourage blooming in February, use a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Temperatures should be between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 24°C) to maintain humidity above average.

What is Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum Cactus)?

The flowering succulent genus Epiphyllum and the cactus family Cactaceae are both members of the Orchid cactus group. Broad leafy stems with scalloped edges distinguish orchid cacti. Several Epiphyllum cactus species have large, showy bowl-shaped white blooms. Beautiful flowers in colorful pastel hues are produced by orchid-cactus hybrids.

The Ocote cactus is a Central and South American species that grows in tropical forests. The orchid-like cactus thrives as an epiphytic plant in the shade of dappled light in their forest habitat. Like how orchids develop, the orchid cactus absorbs nutrients from its environment and attaches itself to a host plant.

USDA zones 10 to 12 are ideal for Epiphyllum cactus. The Epiphyllum cactus is also known as Dutchman’s pipe, lady of the night, or climbing cacti. Orchid cactus hybrids from the genus Disocactus bloom throughout the day, whereas Epiphyllum cacti usually bloom at night. Showy funnel or cup-shaped pink, yellow, orange, and creamy-white blooms may be seen on many orchid cactus hybrids.

Orchid Cactus Flower

The queen of the night flower, orchid cactus, is a giant, fragrant, showy bloom that puts on beautiful floral displays. Around 20 petals make up an cup-shaped Epiphyllum cactus bloom. Linear or ovate-shaped petals fan out in a circle at the base of the flower, forming a star-shaped disc. The width of orchid cactus blooms varies between 3 and 6 inches (8 and 16 cm). The species determines the form, color, fragrance, and blooming period of orchid cactus flowers.

Many day-blooming orchid cactus varieties lack aroma. Large, showy cup-shaped blooms of deep red, vibrant pink, orange, or white are found in certain hybrid cultivars. Hybrids orchid cacti with narrow, funnel-like blossoms, similar to those of a Christmas cactus, are called small hybrids. Some of the whitest blooms of any cactus species can be found on nocturnal orchid cacti. 12″ (30 cm) long and 8″ (20 cm) broad are the uncommon, stunning blooms. The fragrant blooms, which are snow-white and bowl-shaped, also emit a pleasant fragrance.

Types of Orchid Cacti

Epiphyllum cactus and orchid cactus hybrids come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Queen of the night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)—Long, flattened leaf-like stems, large white showy flowers, and purple-red fleshy edible fruits are all characteristics of this orchid cactus.

‘Curly Locks’ orchid cactus (Epiphyllum guatemalense)—White flowers bloom at night, and pink fruit emerges from an unusual flowering cactus with curving and twisting scalloped stems.

Epiphyllum ‘Miss America’—The funnel-shaped flowers and petals of the orchid cactus are in the form of a star.

Epiphyllum ‘Wendy’—The lovely pink orchid cactus has wide cup-shaped blooms and long yellow stamens in the middle, which adds to its charm.

Epiphyllum ‘King Midas’—The magnificent orchid cactus flower is made up of large light orange petals and long stamen.

How to Care for Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum Cactus)

An orchid cactus thrives, flowers every year, and resists pests and diseases if it is cared for properly. Here are some basic care instructions for growing an orchid cactus.

Epiphyllum Cactus Light Requirements

Bright, indirect sunlight is ideal for orchid cactus plants. In a south-facing but shaded location, the finest place to cultivate an orchid cactus is ideal. The orchid cactus needs the correct amount of sunlight throughout the year in order to bloom. Leggy growth and no flowers are common in orchid cactus plants growing in insufficient light. The leafy stems may yellow and become weak if they are exposed to too much sunlight. The stems of an healthy orchid cactus should be light to dark green.

To encourage orchid cactus to bloom, achieving the light level is vital. The Epiphyllum cactus thrives in filtered bright light from late winter to late autumn. Nonetheless, for eight to ten weeks in the winter, the plant profits from lower temperatures and shorter bouts of sunlight. Water and fertilize only when necessary during this time.

The Best Soil to Grow Orchid Cactus

Growth of a healthy orchid cactus depends on excellent drainage and bright, moist soil. One part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part orchid bark make the ideal potting soil for an Epiphyllum cactus. Cactus plants may also be grown in a commercial potting mix.

Epiphyllum cacti are not drought-tolerant, unlike other types of cactus plants. As a result, the pots should be kept wet at all times, but not soggy. Furthermore, the plant will not experience root rot since it is grown in a peat-based, aerated growing medium.

Orchid cactus thrives in hanging baskets and rock gardens outside in tropical environments year-round. Ensure that the soil is sandy and drains well when planting in the ground. To prevent the soil from drying out on dry, hot summer days, you’ll need to provide extra water.

How to Water Orchid Cactus

For a plant to flourish, it must be watered sufficiently to keep the soil moist. When the top 1” (2.5 cm) layer of soil is dry, it’s time to water an orchid cactus. thoroughly saturate the soil in the pot until water runs out before watering the cactus. If it’s hot weather, an orchid cactus might need watering every week in the summer.

The cactus houseplant, on the other hand, only needs to rest in the winter and should be watered sparingly. One of the care instructions to encourage blooming in late spring is to give an orchid cactus minimal water during the winter.

The proper balance of soil moisture is critical for healthy orchid cactus development. The woody stems of the cactus will turn limp and black if you water it too frequently. Giving the plant too little water, on the other hand, will delay flowering and miss out on those lovely flowers.

Top tip to care for an orchid cactus: Water an Epiphyllum cactus with filtered tap water at room temperature. This avoids soil mineral buildup, which might impede plant development.

Orchid Cactus Temperature Requirements

Between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 24°C) is the optimum temperature range for an Epiphyllum cactus. Winter, on the other hand, is a struggle when it comes to temperature control. In cold temperatures of 60°F to 65°F (15°C – 18°C) during the day and 50°F to 55°F (10°C – 13°C) at night, orchid cacti need eight to ten weeks to bloom.

Orchid cacti are tropical forest plants that cannot tolerate cold temperatures. The orchid cactus plant’s development will be harmed if the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C). The flowering succulent cactus will die if the temperature drops below 35°F (1°C).

Epiphyllum Cactus Humidity Needs

An orchid cactus thrives in humid conditions in its native environment. This multipurpose plant thrives in 40 to 50% relative humidity and adapts well to typical household humidity. You can put the moisture-loving cactus on a water and pebble tray if you want to increase humidity. In tropical regions, orchid cacti that grow on the ground are rarely troubled by humidity. You will, however, need to increase the watering frequency if the air is particularly dry.

Fertilizing Orchid Cactus Plants

Regular fertilization helps a potted Epiphyllum cactus thrive. In reality, ensuring the colourful blooms emerge in late spring and summer by adding extra nutrients to the soil is a fantastic strategy. In the spring and fall, use a balanced fertilizer, and in the winter, use a low-nitrogen fertilizer to fertilize an orchid cactus.

Before and after the cactus blooms, apply a cactus fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10. Fertilize the plant with a 2-10-10 NPK ratio as it emerges from winter dormancy. The best way to grow abundant flowers is to plant them in this manner.

Pruning Orchid Cactus

To limit the length of an orchid cactus’ stems, pruning is frequently required. The stems of many Epiphyllum species are arched and woody, growing 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) long. If your orchid cactus stems are drying up or discoloring, you may need to trim them.

Propagating Orchid Cactus from Leaf Cuttings

Epiphyllum cacti can be cuttings from stem easily. The finest cuttings stems have little hairs along the edges, even if you may utilize any cuttings stems. After that, it’s as simple as cutting a healthy portion of stem to start propagating. Cut a 4″ to 6″ (10 – 15 cm) piece of stem from an orchid cactus using sterilized equipment.

Allow the cut end to form a callus for seven days by placing it on paper towels. After that, simply put the severed end into moist potting soil and keep it in a warm area for three to six weeks. Roots should have developed after this period. Repotting your orchid cactus into a new pot or allowing it to grow in its current container is the next step.

When Should You Repot Orchid Cactus? 

Every three years or so, you should repot an orchid cactus. When a Orchid cactus is rootbound, it produces more blooms. As a result, you shouldn’t have to repot them too often. Repotting an orchid cactus in the autumn or winter is ideal. You won’t stress the roots or affect blooming in this manner.

Orchid cactus plants can quickly consume nutrients from potting soil, making them fast-growing and nutrient-hungry. As a result, every few years replanting an Epiphyllum gives you the opportunity to refresh the soil and replace nutrients. Select a pot one size bigger than its current container when repotting an orchid cactus. Also, for cactus plants, pick a suitable potting mix.

Top-dressing an orchid cactus is an alternative to repotting. A new layer of fresh potting soil is added during this process. Just take away 2 inches (5 cm) of top layer potting soil and you’re done. Next, fill the soil to the same level as before with fresh peat moss or compost.

How to Make Orchid Cactus Bloom

It’s simple to look after an orchid cactus. Nonetheless, keeping the Epiphyllum cactus flowering on a regular basis is more difficult. To increase the likelihood of your orchid cactus blooming, here are four options:

Resting period in winter—Overwinter the succulent orchid cactus by placing it in a cold, dry location and watering it once every eight to ten weeks. The buds of the plant are able to set as a result of this process.

Sufficient light—In plenty of bright, indirect light, keep the Epiphyllum cactus throughout the year. If you can, try to keep the plant out of the sun.

Fertilization—To encourage blooming in late winter, use a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Stop fertilizing the orchid cactus once it starts to bloom.

Give it some peace—When buds develop, resist the urge to relocate the plant excessively. Buds may drop as a result of abrupt changes in light and temperature.

Pests Affecting Orchid Cactus Growth

Mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects can all damage orchid cacti. A neem oil spray is a great way to get rid of bugs from your succulent orchid cactus. Sprinkle in 2 tsp. of salt or sugar and mix again. 1 tsp. of neem oil in a spray bottle, a quart (1 liter) of water combined with dry liquid dish soap Once a week, use the DIY neem spray to treat all of the leafy stems. On your orchid cactus, you may detect the indications of pests in a variety of ways:

Mealybugs—Little cotton-like creatures with cottonwool-like white deposits on the orchid cactus fleshy stems, which resemble cotton spots.

Spider mites—Look for threads or web architectures that dangle from leaves. Spider mites may be killed quickly with Neem oil.

Scale insects—Look for unusual bump-like growths on the fleshy stems of orchid cactus to spot scale.

Diseases Affecting Orchid Cactus Growth

The most common diseases afflicting orchid cactus plants are root rot and fungal infections. Never overwater your succulent orchid cactus, which is the best way to avoid decaying roots. Only when the plant’s top layer of soil is dry should you water it. Never allow the soil to completely dry out, on the other hand.

Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum Cactus) Care — FAQs

Is orchid cactus poisonous?

Epiphyllum plants are not known to be dangerous to humans or animals.

Why are my orchid cactus flower buds dropping?

Sudden changes in the environment are the most common cause for flower buds to fall from orchid cactus stems. Some of the reasons why flower buds fall off an orchid cactus stem include drafts, excessive heat, and a lack of humidity.

How long does it take for an orchid cactus to bloom?

An orchid cactus blooms after three to five years. Allowing the plant to become rootbound, providing it with plenty of light, and leaving it in a cold environment throughout the winter are some ways to encourage blooming.

Why isn’t my orchid cactus blooming?

Lack of sunlight, overwatering, few soil nutrients, or high temperatures during the winter are all reasons why an orchid cactus will not bloom. Furthermore, if the soil lacks sufficient potassium and phosphorus, as well as too much nitrogen, an orchid cactus will not bloom.

How do I know when my night-blooming orchid cactus will flower?

Every evening, check the flower buds of a queen of the night orchid to determine if she will bloom. Nocturnal Epiphyllum cacti bloom in June and July, normally once a year. Every evening in the summer, check the orchid cactus to see if it is ready to capture the spectacular blooming spectacle.

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