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Description

eo-beginning

first noticed flower

This amazing epiphyllum, a member of the cactus family from the tropical rain forests of Central and South America, can be easily grown in your home.  The many branching stems are flat, tend to hang down and do well hanging over a balcony or in a hanging pot.  They can be supported to form a plant that will reach the ceiling of your room.  It is a fast growing plant and may show you many fragrant, luncheon-plate size flowers as it ages.  Sometimes called ‘Queen of the night’ because that is when its spectacular flowers open.

 

Light and Temperature

several days later

several days later

This plant will do well in lots of bright light all year long.  Do not give it direct sun or it will get burned.  Remember that it comes from the rain forest with plenty of cloudy days.  It loves the outdoors but cannot tolerate temperatures below 40°F (4°).  Be sure to get it ready to bring inside before the temps drop too much in the fall.  When you do have it indoors it prefers a bright location on the cool side, day temps of 68-72° F (20-22°C) and night temps of 50-55°F (10-13°C). They will benefit from a pebble tray that provides some humidity if you have forced air heat or a house on the dry side.

 

Watering

checking at night

checking at night

Keep slightly moist throughout the summer months and start cutting back in the fall.  Water sparingly, dry 2/3’s down the pot, through the winter and pick up again in the spring.

Medium

A nice light mix of sand, perlite, and a bit of sphagnum peat to hold some moisture would be good for this plant.  Substituting a light weight humus for the sphagnum will enrich the media with minerals and nutrients.  A plant in this mix would not need feeding the first year.

 

Feeding

missed it - you can see how big and beautiful it must have been!

missed it – you can see how big and beautiful it must have been!

You can feed this plant with a 1/3 diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer from late spring through the summer.  It is not advised through the fall and winter months which should provide a resting period and a newly potted plant will not need feeding for the first year.  Especially if you have added dolomite limestone or a light humus to your media mix.  If you’re having difficulty getting blooms you can try using a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus like a 5-10-10.  Use a 1/3 dilution and only every few weeks through the summer months.

Flowers

Amazing.  The flower buds form and will fascinate you as they grow larger and fuller.  As the time for them to pop gets closer you will find yourself staying up later and later through the night wondering if tonight is the night.  They only flower after dark and for only one night.  It is a tricky thing to be there to see it.  As you can see in my pictures, I did not stay up long enough on the

holding it open so you can see some of the detail inside.

Holding it open so you can see some of the detail inside.

crucial night having called it a day at midnight.  It was impressive regardless.  Cool nighttime temps indoors through the winter will encourage buds but warmer nights will encourage green growth.

Pests and Problems

If kept too dry through the summer you may attract mealy bugs or spider mites.

If kept too wet you may see root rot.

If placed in direct sun the flattened stems may get sunburned, get brown spots and dry up.

Re-potting

The best time is in the spring but does not need to be done too often.  Re-potting will delay any blooming period.

Propagation

Let cuttings dry and cool for about 2 weeks before planting 2” (5 cm) deep into a slightly moist rooting medium.  Do not water and keep temperatures at 65-75° F (18-23°C).  Mist the cutting, not the soil, if the days are hot.  You will have root growth in a few weeks.  Transplant the rooted cuttings into the proper medium, water as mentioned above and put into a cool, shaded location.

 

Tips

Spindly leaf sections, a result of too little light in winter, should be removed in spring as they will never flower and do not improve the look of your plant.

If your plant does not summer outdoors it must have plenty of fresh air.

Sometimes called a night blooming cereus but the plant shown above is not of the cereus genus but is in the epiphyllum genus.  It can also be called orchid cactus but is not an orchid at all.

Wild plants will be the night bloomers but breeders have developed many epiphyllum hybrids that will bloom during the day and the flowers are every shade of orange, yellow, red, pink and violet.

In this link you can see a beautiful time lapse video of the flowers opening for the one night.  You will notice the flattened stem shape and that it is being trained upright with a tomato cage.

The cereus have a more triangular, cactus looking stem.  http://www.desertusa.com/cactus/night-blooming-cereus.html

 

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