Tripple buds on one aeriole

In cultivation we need to try to bear in mind the epiphyllum’s preferred environment. They are easy and rewarding plants to grow as long as a few important guidelines are followed:

They require filtered sunlight, good air circulation, moisture, good drainage and protection from frosts. Early morning or late afternoon sun is ideal as to bloom well they need strong light but never hot midday sun. They will grow very well indoors, in a shadehouse, glasshouse, sheltered porch area or in hanging baskets under trees outside in warmer areas. Keep an eye on your plants for signs of under or over exposure to light. Yellowish or sunburned growth indicates too strong light, weak, elongated growth (etoliation) means not enough light. Sunburned plants will usually regain their green colouring once moved to a more shaded area.

  • Epiphyllums are very adaptable and although they prefer temperatures ranging from 7 degrees to 21 degrees C they will tolerate extreme heat if kept well shaded and humid with good air circulation. They can tolerate below zero temperatures for a few short hours if dry but will freeze if wet and temperatures remain cold long term. If growing these plants in the house over winter keep them evenly cool at around 10 degrees C in a room where they don’t receive artificial light after sunset. Winter is their natural resting time and they require no feeding and to be kept just moist. On a warm day they can be misted.
  • Cool and long winter nights are necessary for bud formation. Bud formation can be enhanced by the feeding of a low nitrogen, high potash fertilizer in late winter/early spring. Water in well.
  • Flowers usually appear on mature branches around 2 years old although the small flowering hybrids will often send out blooms much earlier than this.
  • Propagation is done by taking cuttings. They can be taken from plants at any time of the year but will take root more quickly and produce good strong growth if taken between Spring and late Summer.
  • Cuttings taken and planted in Winter will tend to sit until warmer weather comes. Sometimes these cuttings can be prone to rot as soil mix becomes cold and too moist.
    • Very small cuttings and plants which are sometimes offered on local auction sites are unacceptable. The resulting plant will take a very long time to flower if at all and become very unbalanced in its growth habit.
    • Ideally cuttings should be anywhere from 20cms long or more and left to callous off for around 7 days in a shaded area. They can be left much longer and suffer no ill effects.
    • Large cuttings give you strong, well balanced plants that should flower well.
    • Ensure your cutting tools are heat sterilised (flamed with a small gas torch) to prevent bacterial and virus contamination between cuts.
    Use a very sharp knife or scissors and cut directly across. Taper the lower end slightly to give a larger surface for roots to form. Don’t forget to label.
  • We don't use rooting hormone here as it seems to make no difference.
  • After the cuttings have calloused, pot into an approx 12cm pot with barely damp mix. A good quality potting mix with a 1/3 fine grade pumice added will give the plants the nutrition and free drainage they require for the first few months.
  • Do not water at this stage. After a week begin lightly misting the tops most days. Gradually increase the watering as roots become well established. A very slight tug will enable you to feel if it has taken root. Some do take slightly longer than others. Any rooted cuttings developing flower buds within 2 months are best removed for the sake of the plant, it will develop a much better root structure.
  • Pot on each year into a slightly bigger pot until the plant is the size required.
  • Epiphyllums can remain in the same sized pot for years provided they are watered, fed and the mix renewed , every 2-3 years is best.
  • Support your plants according to natural growth habit, some will definitely be pendulous and need a basket, others will be compact and upright for a container, others can be trained up a trellis or bamboo stakes. If branches tend to become too long for your liking or space available, pinch the tips out with your fingers, this will harden the branch off for flowering and will encourage further branching from further down.
  • After flowering has finished remove the bloom by cutting, not twisting the bloom approx 1cm from point of attachment. Twisting can damage the aerioles where buds are formed. An aeriole can continue to produce more flowers for the next season particularly on the free flowering small flowered varieities. These can sometimes produce up to 5 buds per aerole.
  • Throughout the growing season ensure your plants are kept moist, they really like their branches misted on warm summer days, later in the afternoon is a good time for this.
  • They also love the rain, it contains small amounts of nutrients that are very beneficial.
  • Epiphyllums are heavy feeders, so when fertilizing your plants, more at once is not better, regularity is the key and are very happy with a ¼ - ½ strength solution of good quality liquid plant food given every 2-3 weeks throughout summer and early Autumn. In addition  to this a sprinkle of good quality slow release fertiliser is very beneficial a couple of times a year between early spring and late summer.
  • As soon as evening temperatures begin to drop markedly no more feeding is required until Spring.
  • Although pests aren’t common keep an eye out for mealy bug, scale, green caterpillars, snails and slugs. Methylated spirits on cottonwool buds will remove scale and mealy bug.
  • Plants with really good airflow summer and winter will rarely succumb to scale if at all.
  • Brown spots appearing on foliage may be due to temperature fluctuations but are usually bacterial and can be controlled by spraying with an organic sulphur spray or a dusting with flowers of sulphur and allowing the area to dry off.
  • Very occasionally root mealy bug will get into the roots of your plants regardless of how vigilante you are with hygiene practices. This appears as small white tufts of cottonwool. The best solution is to remove the plant from its pot, wash off all mix with water at room temperature and repot with damp fresh mix in a clean pot.
  • If you wish, spray them and the roots with insecticide, we don't use insecticides here as we prefer to grow as organically as possible.
  • Leave watering for a week for the plant to settle, but do continue to mist.