The name “epiphyllum” means “on a leaf” – it means that a plant blooms a flower on a leaf, although in fact, an epiphyllum is a leafless epiphytic shrub with leaf-like flattened stems.
The genus Epiphyllum includes about 20 species of epiphytic cacti from tropical rainforests. Due to the similarity of stems to leaves, epiphyllums were previously erroneously designated as leaf cacti (phyllocactus). For a long time, the so-called Zygocactus, Schlumberger also bore the name “epiphyllum”. Thus, for a long time, with the names of these plants, there was complete confusion and confusion, which even now confuses many.
Growers rarely grow natural types of epiphyllum because of their inherent nocturnal bloom. Numerous hybrids of epiphyllums with hanging shoots covered with charming delicate flowers (white, yellow, cream, orange, pink, red, purple, violet) of various shapes and structures are widespread as ampelous plants; there are also undersized varieties.
Epiphyllum buds bloom for a long time, but large, often fragrant, funnel-shaped simple or double flowers (their diameter can reach 35 cm) last only a few days; with artificial pollination, large red edible fruits are formed with seeds used for propagation.
Home care of Epiphyllum
For the epiphyllum, choose a light or semi-shaded place; in the summer, if possible, the plant is taken out into the fresh air in the garden or on the balcony (protecting it from hot sunlight), since it can hardly tolerate the stagnant air of the room (fungal diseases may appear).
Summer keeping outdoors promotes good growth and lush flowering. Epiphyllum from spring to autumn loves warmth and uniform humidity, it is sensitive to dry out of the soil; during the growth period, he needs regular moderate watering with soft water at room temperature. Periodic feeding of the epiphyllum with mineral fertilizers of low concentration and organic fertilizers is carried out from March to August; watering with clean water is required before feeding.
From November to March, the epiphyllum begins a dormant period, the plant needs to be kept cool at a temperature of 10-15 degrees. In autumn and winter, watering is reduced; if during the dormant period you do not provide coolness and do not limit watering, the epiphyllum will not bloom. In early spring, thin and ugly shoots are removed from the bush.
The long-term flowering of epiphyllum usually lasts from May to July. After flowering, if necessary, the plant is transplanted into a humus-rich, slightly acidic substrate (a mixture of turf, leaf, and humus soil with the addition of sand, peat, sphagnum, horn shavings). Epiphyllums do not like transplanting, so it is not recommended to disturb the plant with a transplant more often than once every 3-4 years – with regular feeding, there is no need for a more frequent transplant.
For reproduction, the epiphyllum shoots are cut into cuttings at least 6 cm long (invaluable varieties – 4 cm), the sections are powdered with coal powder and a root formation stimulator, the sections are dried for several days until a film forms and rooted in a pot of sand, having built a “mini-greenhouse”. Epiphyllum cuttings can also be rooted in clean water by immersing them no deeper than 1-2 cm.
From dry air, scabies, spider mites, aphids (especially on delicate buds) appear on the epiphyllum, therefore, the plant and the air around it are periodically sprayed with warm soft water by means of very fine, dusty spraying to prevent pests and improve the microclimate. When pests appear, non-flowering shoots of epiphyllum are usually immersed in water for 2-3 hours or periodically give the plant a “shower”.