Epiphyllum – leafy cactus – care

Leafy cacti – epiphyllums and zygocactuses – are grown by many, but rarely from anyone you will find well-flowering plants. But with proper care and maintenance, they should literally be drowned in flowers. Epiphyllums (earlier they were called phyllocactus) – people from Central and South America. They do not have leaves, their role is played by long flat, sometimes triangular, leaf-shaped dark green stems. They are juicy, and at the edges are notched or jagged.

Epiphyllum (Epiphyllum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Maja Dumat

In culture, mainly hybrid (varietal) epiphyllums are widespread. Over the years, gardeners and florists have developed a huge number of excellent varieties of these cacti. Their flowers are beautiful, large, 10-12 cm in diameter, bright, of different colors – red, burgundy, pink, purple, yellow, orange, white, with different shades and tints. There are epiphyllums with fragrant flowers.


Why doesn’t the epiphyllum bloom?

Epiphyllums bloom in April-June, sometimes very abundantly. But in order to achieve such flowering, you need to create favorable conditions for the plants.

First, provide the epiphyllum with enough light. In shaded places, cacti will never bloom, although they can live, or rather vegetate, in the shade for many years. The best place for the epiphyllum is the sills of the east and west windows. Northern windows are suitable, but here the cacti must be placed near the window pane itself, then they will bloom, however, not as luxuriantly as in the sun. On the southern windows, epiphyllums should be protected from the scorching sun rays, shading slightly with gauze or a tulle curtain.

Secondly, in winter, when the cacti are resting, they need to be watered very sparingly, rarely. On a cool windowsill, it is enough to water the epiphyllum once a month, but if the room is warm – twice, no more. With excessive watering in winter, thin frail shoots appear on the tops of wide shoots that have grown over the summer, the so-called “spears”, they must be cut off at the very base.

Arrow peduncle of epiphyllum
Arrow peduncle of epiphyllum. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Bjorn Sahlberg

Planting the epiphyllum

Leafy cacti are planted in small clay or plastic pots, commensurate with the volume of the root system. There is too much soil in a spacious dish, it dries out for a long time after the next watering, the roots easily rot from dampness, and the epiphyllum then not only does not bloom, but also withers.

The soil mixture is composed of sod, leafy soil, fibrous peat and coarse sand (approximately equal parts). It is useful to add a little dry mullein to it. Lime is contraindicated.

Epiphyllum care

Water the epiphyllum with clean rain, pond or settled tap water at room temperature. Moreover, it is better to boil the tap water, and then keep it in a bucket for 1-2 days – you get soft water.

In early spring, cacti grow new shoots, and last year’s ones dress with buds on the sides, they fill up quickly, and usually after a month you can admire the bright, large, multi-petal flowers of the epiphyllum. In spring and summer, epiphyllums are watered abundantly, however, the earth should not be constantly damp.

It is very good to spray the plants daily with soft water – this promotes the development of wide, powerful shoots. From May to August, it is good to feed the epiphyllum with a weak infusion of mullein (1:16) or with a 0,1% solution of complete mineral fertilizer. But only well-growing specimens are fed, and those that grow sluggishly do not need to be fertilized – feeding only worsens the condition of weak plants.

Starting in August, watering of the epiphyllum is gradually reduced and by November it is brought to a minimum. In late autumn and winter, the epiphyllums are cool (10-16 ° C), so the pots must be moved to the window glass itself. The cacti will be both light and not hot.

Epiphyllum (Epiphyllum)
Эпифиллум (Epiphyllum). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Mike
Эпифиллум. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Bill Gracey

Reproduction of epiphyllums

Epiphyllums are propagated in spring and summer by cuttings taken from healthy flowering (or faded) bushes. Choose strong, wide last year’s shoots and cut them off, but not at the base. If the stems are cut at the base, then such cuttings (narrow at the bottom), take root more slowly and worse than wide ones.

Cuttings of the epiphyllum are dried for 1-2 days and planted shallowly (by 0,6 cm) in a mixture of peat and sand, which should be only slightly moist, but not soggy, otherwise the cuttings may rot. It is possible to root epiphyllums in one clean sand. The cuttings are tied to a peg. After 8-4 weeks, roots are formed, then the cuttings of the epiphyllum are planted in 1-2 pieces. in small pots with loose sandy soil. As it develops, they are transplanted into a more spacious container filled with soil mixture.


Epiphyllum - leafy cactus - care
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Anna Evans

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