Epi Care Basics

Provide your epiphyllums with filtered light, good drainage, balanced watering so that they are not wet but do not dry out. It is as simple as that but it is more complicated to achieve than it first appears.

Epiphyllums are epiphytic cacti they grow on other plants, not as a parasitic but using the plant as a host. Epiphyllums are not cold hardy (below 35ºF.).  However they will survive freezing temperatures if they do not last for very long.  If the temperature drops to 30ºF for only a couple of hours over night, your plants will probably be all right especially if they are situated close to the house where it is normally a little warmer. But, if the temperature goes down to 30ºF and stays there for many hours you may lose your plants.  On the other hand they do not like frost at all.  So misting them or keeping air circulating when frosty conditions exist will help your plant survive them.  In colder climates they are normally found only as houseplants or in greenhouses.

Watering epiphyllums - they should not be allowed to dry out, yet over watering is the number one cause of plant death. The key to watering Epiphyllum plants is to keep the top 1/3 of the soil moderately damp and preventing standing water from around the roots. Epiphyllum plant care is all about balancing water and light needs.

Sunlight - For best results choose a filtered light location. A site where they get full morning sun but shelter from high noon light is best but they do well in northern exposure also.  The key is protection from direct midday direct sun.  

Blooms - Epiphyllums bloom best when you give them regular, light fertilizer applications. However they take much less fertilizer than is called out for other types of plants in the same size container. Using about 1/3 to 1/2 of what is normally called for is a good rule of thumb.  Make sure to use a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 or 5-5-5) during the growth periods in spring and fall. In February, use a low nitrogen fertilizer (2-10-10 or 0-10-10) to promote flowering and root development. Then once flowering has commenced, suspend feeding the plant until October.

With a little good management they will bloom, and possibly fruit for you.  If you do not wish the plant to fruit just remove the flower after it has finished blooming.

Pests - Epis are relatively pest free but there are some pests that will enjoy your plants. Aphids, mealy bugs, scale, snails, slugs, and caterpillars are pests to watch out for. Minor infestations of scale can be controlled with the application of rubbing alcohol directly onto the scale with a cotton ball or cotton swab. Snails and slugs are controlled with readily available snail/slug baits.

The biggest problem