Tips and Tricks to help you in your Epi Garden

This section provides tips on lots of things related to growing Epis. If you have something you would like to share with others send it to the and he will guide your suggestion through the steps required to get it posted.

Using Coffee Filters when Repotting Epis

How to keep Potting soil from coming out of the bottom of 1 gallon pots when planting or replanting?

This is a tip from Cindy:

When repotting her plants, she uses a coffee filter to keep the potting soil from coming out of the drain holes.

This will keep the soil loose and drain freely. Before I started doing this, I used to pack the potting soil in until it stopped coming out of the drain holes. This inhibited water from freely draining out of the pot. Using a coffee filter allows for better drainage and is easier and quicker potting.

Use a 10 to 12 cup filter; smaller ones will work but the 12 cup ones fit much better in a gallon container. Just drop them in and add a couple of inches of your favorite potting soil mixture in the bottom to hold everything in place. Then place the plant into the pot and finish by adding additional soil.

A tip from Derek Obayashi (a Hybridizer) on repotting 4-in potted plants into gallon pots:

When potting a 4”-potted plant into a gallon do not separate the root ball. Just place it in the center of the gallon pot and put potting soil around the root ball and fill up the gallon pot to the level you desire.

He has found this will allow your epi to bloom sooner by not overly disturbing the root ball.

Weeding your plants made easier

If your epis are like ours, you have found that the weeds enjoy living in the pots.

I have often found my hands are often too big to get to the weeds without damaging the plants. I have had to leave some in place.

A friend was helping me earlier in the year and found the same problem. So, he went into his toolbox and came back with a set of long nose vice grips. Vice grips are a little over kill for pulling weeds, but it did allow him to get into spaces I could not reach. It also prompted me to think about surgical forceps.

That evening I started to research forceps on AMAZON and found there are several distinct kinds you may want to consider. Forceps come in straight & curved shafts with or without locking. I thought the Alligator Forceps would be the best but have personally found they do not open wide enough to get hold of the weed root ball.

Help in preventing frost damage to your epiphyllums

When cold weather sets in there is always the danger of Frost. One trick David Cheever uses to protect his epis from frost is to hang C9 incandescent Christmas lights to keep epies warm at night. This works very well in a closed environment but should help anywhere provided it is a sheltered area.

This will not work if you need a lot of heat. C9 incandescent Christmas lights will add a little heat to your outdoor Epi Garden and placed on a timer will add convenience to the process. Make sure you use outdoor Incandescent C9 lights.

They are available on Amazon and at other locations. However, if you choose to use this method, I would purchase a few extra bulbs as incandescent C9 bulbs will not be on the market forever.

DIY Hanging Pot Extenders (simple and inexpensive)

I have seen a package of five 12-inch extenders for as little as $14.00 ($2.80ea) and a package of three 18-in extenders for $15 ($5.00ea). These prices are ok if you just need a few. If you need twenty-five or more and do not mind making them, there is a really straightforward way to do it.

You need to use 9-gage galvanized wire when making them. It is available from any place that sells chain-link fencing. I purchased a 170-foot roll of top wire used in chain link fences. You cannot use stainless steel which is available in smaller rolls because it is hard to work with.

In June 2022 a 170-foot roll of 9-gage steel galvanized wire cost me $45 from a big box store. This is enough to make eighty-five 18-inch hanger extenders. The cost for each hanger comes out to $0.54.

You will also need a small lock cutter to cut the wire. Normal wire cutters will not be large enough for you to cut the wire unless you have strong hands. I used wire cutters for the first batch I made. If I were younger, I could have gotten away with using them. Now I use small lock cutters. You will also need pliers for bending the wire. Just cut the wire to the length you want and bend each end.

Easy way to improve your Soil Acidity 

Soil preferences of acid preferring plants

  • Ph 5.5 – 6....... Orchids
  • Ph 6.2 – 7....... Epiphyllums
  • Ph 4.5 – 6 ...... Azaleas & Rhododendrons
  • Ph 5 – 6.5....... Camellias

Epiphyllums like acid soil but most city water are neutral to alkaline.

An easy way to adjust your PH without overdoing it is to use Orchid fertilizers or the less expensive and easy to find is Miracle-Gro fertilizer for Azaleas, Camellias and Rhododendrons.

Miracle-Gro for Azaleas, Camellias and Rhododendrons is water soluble, easy to use plant food. This product can be absorbed by the stems. However, if not wash off epiphyllum stems may stain them. This will not harm the stems.

Do not forget to apply at half the strength stated on the box.

Miracle-Gro fertilizer formula 30 10 10 is for promotion of foliage growth after the blooming season. It is designed especially for acid-loving plants. It is rich in iron and other essential nutrients.

The organic fertilizer used at the Safari Park Epiphyllum Trails are Gro-power fertilizers. Gro-power fertilizers are available from a number of local nurseries. You will have to call around to find one that stocks them. They come in both high and low nitrogen products.

Simple way to improve your flower photography

Which do you prefer the first or the second Epi picture? There was no photoshopping involved. All you need to do is place a black backdrop behind the bloom. Most recommend black paper or card stock. I have found these to be difficult to manage or just too small to be of any real use. Then I remembered the sunshades I used in my car’s windows.

Tools required:

  • A camera or your phone? You will want to photograph your blooms in a square or 3 by 4 format. Photographs taken with a camera are in a 3 by 4 format while phones provide the ability to change the photograph format from Square to 3 by 4 or 3 by 6 formats.
  • You may want to trim the excess space out of the picture after you have taken them.
    • Microsoft Photo that comes with Windows will let you do that.
    • Another free tool is GIMP but there is a learning curve you will need to go through to figure out how to do crop your photographs.
  • A wooden clothespin (Old fashion ones with a spring to hold them close) is a good clamp for holding the window shades in place. The clothespin will not damage the epi branch either.
  • Automobile Sunshades (get the ones with silver on one side and black on the other) from your auto.
  • These shades weigh almost nothing and can be clothes pinned easily too anything including a neighboring epi branch. If the sun is to bright use one to block the sun or just for shade.

    The best time for taking pictures is the morning or the a few hours before sunset.  The light does not cause as much glare.  Happy Photography. None of the bloom pictures were photoshopped and you can see the difference removing the background can have when you take pictures of your epis.