Cultural Notes on the Gowing of Epiphyllums – The Jungle or Orchid Cactus
One grows Epiphyllums for the fun of it, for the pleasure and fulfillment of a
need to grow something of fairy-like beauty and as a bonus thereto, is the fact
that they are sturdy and reliable. Remember that an unrooted "epi"
cutting is not a plant, it is only the beginning and will not produce flowers
with the first blooming season. The function of the cutting is only to
grow roots and new branches and should per chance a flower bud appear in the
first year, resist the impulse to allow it to flower. It is wise to nip off the
bud so as to improve the plants development. When it does flower in the second
season, or even thereafter, it will be an EXPERIENCE you'll want to share with
others, the patience will be rewarded.
Having just acquired a cutting of an Epiphyllum Hybrid you'll notice it has a
name written on it. Like humans, this name is an important part of its
existence. Attach the nametag to the container so that it will not be lost. And
now to a start of things. Top...
Plastic pots are the most practical since they are easy to clean and holes can
easily be punched into them for hanging purposes, but more importantly extra
holes for adequate drainage are easily provided. This is essential.
Never over pot a cutting or even an established plant for that matter. An
approximately 100 mm container is large enough to start a single cutting, or
otherwise a seed tray of 10 or more millimeters deep for a multi-striking
(The latter approach is merely to simplify the general care and attention and
in the end when roots have been established the potting up operation as
outlined for a singer cutting starting with a 100 mm container must still be
Potting the Cutting
Prepare a mixture of three parts good porous potting soil to one part
sterilised river sand or coarse grit (swimming pool filter silica very
suitable). Add to this one teaspoon of bone meal for each cutting to be potted.
Spread some of the mixture over the bottom of the container.
Suspend the unrooted cutting over the container using one hand and with the
other fill in around the cutting. Do not apply pressure to the cutting for far
that the calloused end may be damaged or bruised. The mixture should cover the
fist uncut areoles (the little crotch formed by the rounded recessions in the
cutting.) The cutting may need support initially and it may be tied loosely to
Firm down the mixture lightly with the fingers. Do not overfill the pot so as
to allow for adequate watering.
Do not water the newly potted cutting. Place it in a cool, shady place for two
to three weeks when it may be watered sparingly.
After a month or so the plant may be moved to its permanent position and normal
watering may commence. Top...
As the plant grows the roots will fill the small starting pot and will need
room to expand, also the upper growth may become top heavy, it is then time for
the plant to be repotted into the next larger container, Remember plants bloom
better when slightly root bound.
The same method used for potting-up the cutting applies to the now established
plant. The level of the soil must be the same as that of the smaller container.
Once again a damp mixture is used and no watering undertaken for a couple of
More Epiphyllums are lost by over watering them than any other cause. Water
only when the soil feels dry. The soil should never be allowed to become bone
dry as it could result in the small delicate feeder roots dying off. Extra
holes in the container should be cut beforehand to ensure good drainage.
Each grower has to learn the tolerances by trial and error. The climate and
growing conditions will determine the watering patterns. For mature plants a
thorough watering is preferred to frequent light watering. Top...
Feed monthly with a low nitrogen content fertiliser with acid formulation
similar to that which is used on Camellias, Azaleas etc – ideally a water
soluble 2:3:4(47). Epiphyllums respond readily to foliar feeding. Do not
fertilise during June or July which is regarded as a resting period, except
possibly a water soluble 0:10:10 for mature plants so as to harden new growth
and assist with flower bud formation.
Aphids may sometimes attack buds. Spray with a Rose aphid aerosol to remove
them snails and slugs love the taste of epiphyllums and can cause immense
damage. Snail bait should be sprinkled liberally in the surrounds of the
Epiphyllums at the first sign of them. Never place snail bait in the containers
since this could attract snails and they may find the Epiphyllums tastier.
Chlorpirifos can control scale and mealy bug. These combat methods are to
manage exceptional episodes. Epiphyllums are normally almost free of pest and
This leaflet is only a guide; experience will be the best teacher. One thing is
certain, your decision to start your own collection of Epiphyllums holds in
store for you the thrill of watching a cutting grow into a plant and in time,
seeing a bud unfold into a delicate, unbelievable flower that literally takes
your breath away. Top...