The orchid cactus is a tropical succulent plant native to Central America. It is highly valued for its large, ornamental flowers that appear in spring and summer. The blossoms range in color from white to deep red, depending on variety. Special care and maintenance are required to induce blooming, but many gardeners find the flowers are worth the extra effort. Most varieties of orchid cactus are night-blooming, while a few bloom during the day. Regardless of type, all orchid cacti have similar care requirements and will begin producing blooms after two to three years of growth.
Keep orchid cactus in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. Use a growing medium made of one part perlite, one part horticultural charcoal and one part potting soil to provide proper fertility and drainage.
Maintain a constant temperature of 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at all times to keep the orchid cactus happy and healthy. Provide nightly winter temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to encourage a dormant period.
Mist orchid cactus twice per day using a spray bottle filled with tepid water to raise the relative humidity. Spray once in the early morning and again at noon to allow excess moisture to evaporate before evening.
Water orchid cactus plants only when the top 1½ inches of soil are completely dry, about once a week. Apply the water directly to the soil to reduce the risk of disease. Reduce frequency to once every two weeks during winter.
Feed orchid cactus once per month from spring to fall using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK Fertilize. Apply a low nitrogen 0-10-10 NPK fertilizer twice per year, once in February and again in November to induce blooming. Follow the manufacturer's directions for applying fertilizer.