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Epiphyllum Care

Most of the information Iíve seen for growing epiphyllums is geared to southern California, where they remain outdoors year-round. So Iím still in the process of figuring out what works best for me in Connecticut.

Watering

Epiphyllums are easy to grow, but can be killed if the soil remains too wet. So use well-draining soil. I use equal parts of perlite, small orchid bark, and standard potting soil.  They also should not dry out completely.  When the top 1/3 of the mix is dry, water thoroughly, but do not let it sit in the water.  They need less frequent watering in the winter.

Light

Epiphyllums prefer bright but indirect light. I keep mine outdoors in the summer.  Some are under a structure my husband made that has lathe on the top.  Others are under maple trees.  Both serve to decrease the amount of direct sun they get.  In the winter they are able to tolerate more light, at least in Connecticut. 

Temperature

Epiphyllums cannot tolerate temperatures below freezing.  I bring mine inside when temperatures drop into the 30s. They often go dormant in the winter, so unless they are forming new growth, I donít fertilize them from November through January.

Buds

Most epiphyllums bloom in the spring, although some bloom other times of the year and some bloom several times a year.  When buds form, it's best not to change the plants orientation to light or they may loose the buds.  It is often recommended to remove the buds if the cuttings are less than 3 years old, so the plant does not get too stressed from producing the flowers.  So far I've had 2 set buds at under 3 years, and I've been unable to resist letting them bloom.  'Deutsche Kaiserin' had 2 flowers only 11 months after planting the cuttings.  It had no problem and the next year had  11 flowers.  'Slightly Sassy' had one flower 20 months after plant.  It looked fine for 3 months, then the main stem started rotting and eventually died.  I don't know if this was related to the stress of blooming.

Cuttings

New cuttings need to heal for a week or two before planting. After this time, plant them in well draining soil. Water the soil when first planting, but donít water again until roots form. You will know itís rooted when you feel resistance to a gentle tug on the cutting.

More Information

If you really get interested in epiphyllums you might want to join the Yahoo Epi group.  Itís a great group of people and Iíve learned a lot from them. And in blooming season there will be many gorgeous photos posted and your epiphyllum wish list will keep growing.  Even in our winter, we get to see occasional blooms thanks to our members from the southern hemisphere and those who have off-season blooms.

Enjoy your epiphyllums. They are great plants.

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