Orchid Cactus flowers
The orchid cactus is a gorgeous group of tree-growing cacti.
The Epiphyllum (the botanical name) has broad, flat, leaflike stems scalloped on the edge, strung together by a woody midvein.
The Orchid cactus are jewels and the proud owners of some of the largest, most unbelievable flowers in the whole plant world.
The porcelain-petaled, saucer-size pond lily suffers by comparison.
Many people pass up anything listed in the cactus group. They immediately think of stickers and thorns.
However, the decorative, free-flowering epiphyllum has no thorns. It is easier to cultivate in the average home than the orchid.
Although it is called the “epiphyllum orchid cactus” it is not an orchid but a cactus.
Like an orchid, the epiphyllum is an epiphyte.
But not parasitic! It sustains itself by absorbing sustenance from the air instead of from the vegetation on which it fastens.
These are the most majestic of hanging plants, easy to handle, and include a group of miniature or basket varieties.
There is even a series of compact, yet free-flowering hybrids for those with limited growing areas indoors or out.
Like the summer-flowering tuberous begonia, these are “shade plants” only in hot climates – where they can spend the summer near a protective north wall or in the dappled shade from a tree.
Otherwise, they need sunlight in fall, winter, and spring, and shade only when summer sun becomes searing hot. The Epiphyllum flower best when temperatures stay near 65 degrees, and when the air is humid.
Misting or spraying the stems, except when the plants are in bud or flower, both humidifies and cleans the leaves of clogging dust.
Epiphyllums do not have leaves, but just stems or branches which consist of two-edged or triangular structures along which the blooms appear. The chief difference in varieties is the color of bloom although the shape of branch and flower also varies.
Epiphyllum plants flower while young, beginning in February and many plants keep flowering into July. After blooming they make their autumn growth and then become dormant.
Epiphyllums enjoy moist air and some sun. After the buds are set the pots are best moved outdoors, if the weather is mild.
Experts tell us never to change conditions while the flower buds are forming. Many epiphyllums spend at least half their lives in a lathhouse or greenhouse.
In cold climates they should be treated to the conditions given the Christmas cactus – or to tender begonias and ferns. A large proportion of the epiphyllums which were blasted by the January freeze pulled through.