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Growing Epiphyllum PDF Print E-mail

Epiphyllum Cacti

Epiphyllum cacti are native to the Brazil where they grow in the forest canopy of humid rain forests. They are mainly epiphytic plants and are found growing on the sides of trees and in forks of branches. Epiphyllums have flattened stems which are very leaf like and can be forked or single stems and they tend to be around a foot long although they can be up to 2 feet long in large specimens. All of the Epiphyllum cactus have very large and showy flowers which are are brightly coloured and can reach over 7 inches across. This showy cactus is often referred to as the Orchid Cactus due to the beauty of its flowers which usually open in the evening and last a couple of days. A single plant however can often produce more than a dozen flowers over a two week period. Typically in the UK they flower in May.

Growing Requirements


From September though May you will need to keep these semi tropical cactus in a warm and sunny position avoiding only strong direct sunlight. From May onwards they benefit from being kept out of doors in a sheltered position where they will get good light but avoiding the midday direct sun as this can burn the plant.

Pot Type

Epiphyllum cactus are best grown in a plastic type pot which should have at least one drainage hole in the base to allow good drainage. The plastic pot will allow the compost to retain moisture for longer than a terracotta pot.



Epiphyllums prefer an rich free draining compost which should consist of:

  • 1 part John Innes no. 1 compost
  • 3 part peat or coir based compost
  • 1 part sharp sand or grit


These plants should be kept moist at all times during the growing season which is April/May through September, water these plants every few days or every day in hot weather. During the winter you should water just enough to prevent the compost from completely drying out. Start the winter rest from mid to late September and resume normal watering the following May.


Grow Epiphyllum cacti in a bright sunny position during the summer and winter but avoid any strong direct sun during the summer, if kept too dark they may become overly lush, will be shy to produce flowers and the long stems will be insufficiently strong to hold themselves up and may fall over and get damaged. If grown in strong direct sunlight they may get burnt.


These plants like plenty of food and a good general purpose fertilizer should be applied at watering time from May through late August, apply at every other watering. Use a higher potash fertilizer for the last three feedings to harden off the summer growth.


Repotting should be done every year. Remove the plant from its put by wrapping newspaper around the stem to prevent it from being damaged. Carefully tap it out of the pot and remove the old compost to examine the roots, if any are damaged or showing signs of rotting they should be removed as close to the plant as possible.Re plant the cactus using the same mix of compost as it was originally in (fresh) and use a pot just slightly wider then the width of the cactus. Do not be tempted to over pot as this will cause the unused compost to go stagnant and you may loose the plant.


See propagation section for seed sowing and cuttings.

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