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.

Epiphyllum are Epiphytic cacti. As an epiphytic cacti they grow on other plants, not as a parasitic but using the plant as a host. Epiphyllums are also not cold hardy (below 35ºF.) but they can take a cold snap if it does not last more than a few hours. In colder climates they are normally found only as houseplants or in greenhouses. It is not recommended that you try to make an epiphyllum a house plant unless you are in a cold climate as normally there is not enough light inside a house.

Watering epiphyllums is basically a balancing act. They should not be allowed to dry out, yet over watering is the number one cause of plant death.

A great source of information on growing epiphyllums is the pre-meeting workshops which are tailored to provide seasonal information based on what your plants requires. Pre-meeting workshops are held at 7:00pm just prior to the general meeting. General meetings are at 7:30pm on the second Wednesday of each month (except for December when the installation banquet is held) and members and non-members are welcome at the workshops and the general meetings.

Watering

If your plant has an established root system and they are in good draining soil you may be able to establish a standardized watering cycle.  You want them to dry out moderately but not completely before rewatering.  A rule of thumb is they should be watered thoroughly every five to ten days in the warm season and less when it is cool.  Remember that a thorough watering is better than several light watering and never leave epiphyllum standing is water.

Misting during hot days:

Epiphyllums prefer humidity around 50% if you live in southern California coastal areas you may never need to mist them in the summer.  If you live inland you may want to do that as the day cools down.  Another option you may try is to wet down the ground and let the water evaporation during the heat of the day help increase the local humidity. This is only an option if the area is protected from wind.  Washing off the foliage is also helpful but should not be done during the heat of the day as that can be harmful when the plant pores are open.  Never mist a blooming plant. 

Fertilizing

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. During the Growth periods are Fall through early Winter - Make sure to use a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 or 5-5-5). Preparing for the blooming season starts In February, switch to a low nitrogen fertilizer (2-10-10 or 0-10-10) this will promote flowering and root development. Then once flowering has commenced, suspend feeding the plant until October.

With a little good management your Epies 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.

Sun Light, Temperature, Air Circulation

Light

Epiphyllums prefer partial sun, never direct noon-time sun.  They can be grown under a lathe, shade cloth, trees, patios or balconies.  In most locations 50% shade provides the correct amount of shade.  If you are growing them in hotter climates they will require more shade protection.  

Keep in mind to much shade will allow your plants to grow but they will have fewer blooms or none at all. If you have mature plants that have few or no blooms move them to a location with a little more sunlight. It is better to error on the side of too much light than to little as light encourages blooms. 

Your plants will tell you when you have it correct.  Over exposure will cause yellow or sunburned growth. Not enough will result in weak, spindly growth with no sign of a strong mid-rip or they may not  produce flowers. 

Temperature

Epiphyllums prefer temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees, but will tolerate extreme heat if well-shaded and they receive some misting late in the day.  They will also tolerate colder temperatures.  However if the temperature drops below freezing for more than a couple of hours you may lose part of your plant or even the complete plant. 

Air Circulation

Epiphyllums have a preference for free air movement but do not tolerate hot or cold winds well. Keep in mind closer your plants are together the more free air movement is necessary.
Air movement is normally not an issue with epiphyllums grown under trees or under lath or shade cloth coverings. Air movement may become a problem when epiphyllums are grown close together, in patios or other partially enclosed areas.

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

Loosing the name of the hybrid epiphyllum. The easiest way is to make sure to use a stick/tag.  Mark the hybrid name on a plant tag twice.  The bottom one far enough down on the tag to have it below the surface of the dirt so it is protected from sunlight.  Old mini blind slats make great tags. Use permanent marker on one side of the tag and lead pencil on the other.  Some people use metal tags attached to the pot wires or write with a paint-pen on the pots or using a label maker to print names and put them on the pots.

Then there is the old fall back standard of using black felt tip pen to mark the leaves with the plant name. This works for only a couple of years then it normally fades away.