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How to Care for Orchid Cacti

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How to Care for Orchid Cacti

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Overview

Orchid cacti are not members of the orchid family, but their flowers are just as lovely. Native to Central America, the epiphyllum is easy to grow in a pot. The members of this plant genus have large flowers that range in color from white to pink to deep crimson---they bloom from spring through summer. Some typically bloom at night, which can add interest and beauty to your summer evening entertaining. If you grow your epiphyllum in a pot, you can move it indoors while it is blooming, where you'll be able to enjoy it even more.

Caring for Orchid Cactus

Step 1

Use a good quality potting mix and add a bit of sand, perlite or orchid bark. Transplant your orchid cactus into a clay or ceramic pot filled with this mixture. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole so your plant doesn't get root rot.

Step 2

Maintain a fairly high humidity between 50 percent and 80 percent. Placing your plant on a saucer filled with pebbles that you keep moist can help to increase the humidity around it. If you keep a humidity meter near your plant, it will tell you how the humidity is doing---you can raise the humidity by spraying your plant with a gentle mist of water.

Step 3

Keep your plant in an area where the temperature remains above 46 degrees Fahrenheit. It requires cool winter temperatures, preferably between 50 and 55 F, in order to produce the maximum number of flowers in the spring and summer.

Step 4

Move your orchid cactus outdoors in the spring and summer, and monitor the temperature to make certain it doesn't rise above 86 F. If you need to move it to a cooler location on hot days, it's easy to do because your plant is in a pot.

Step 5

Water your orchid cactus once a week and keep it moist but not soggy. In very hot weather, you might need to water it twice a week.

Step 6

Fertilize your orchid cactus with a fertilizer having an N-P-K ratio of 5-1-4. You can use this mixture throughout the spring and summer every time you water. Stop fertilizing your plant when fall arrives and its blooming season is over.

Step 7

Spray insect pests with insecticidal soap if aphids, scale or spider mites attack your plant. If you notice slugs or snails munching on your plant, hand pick them or set out beer traps.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting mix
  • Sand, perlite or shredded bark (optional)
  • Medium pot with drainage hole
  • Plant saucer
  • Pebbles
  • Humidity meter
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Insecticidal soap or other insect remedy

References

  • Orchid Cactus Help
  • Orchid Cactus.com
  • Epiphyllum.com

Who Can Help

  • Plant Source
Keywords: orchid cactus, epiphyllum flowers, blooming houseplants

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.

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