Orchid cacti got their name because their flowers are just as beautiful as many orchids. But these Central and South American rainforest plants can be a lot easier to grow. Called epiphytes or epiphyllums, the orchid cactus makes a good houseplant for those who enjoy lovely flowers in their homes and gardens. They bloom from April through July and like being outside when the temperature is above 55 degrees and below 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Then when they bloom, you can bring them indoors so you and your friends and family can admire them.
Plant your orchid cactus in a mixture of a good quality potting soil mixed with a bit of sand, Perlite or shredded bark.
Keep your orchid cactus indoors in the winter, or in an outdoor area where the temperature never drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If winter temperatures are too high, these plants will not bloom in the spring and summer.
Place a saucer filled with pebbles under your potted orchid cactus. When you water it, the water will collect in the saucer and give the plant humidity it needs, but will prevent the root system from becoming or staying waterlogged.
Check the humidity by keeping a simple, inexpensive humidity meter near your plant. Orchid cacti like a humidity of between 50 and 80 percent, so if it drops below 50 percent, mist your plant with a fine spray of water.
Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer that has an N-P-K ratio of 5-1-4. You can use this fertilizer every time you water if you want, because it is a diluted solution and will not harm your plant in any way.
Pinch off any new leaves you see developing along with flower buds, starting in April. Doing this will help to give the flowers more space so they will grow as large as possible.
Things You Will Need
- Orchid cactus
- Sand, Perlite or shredded bark (optional)
- Correct temperature and humidity
- Humidity meter
- 5-1-4 fertilizer
- An orchid cactus will begin to bloom when it is 1 to 4 years old.
- Orchid cacti can become dinner for certain insect pests. If you see aphids, mealy bugs, or spider mites, spray your plant with an insecticidal soap. If snails or slugs are present, scatter diatomaceous earth or iron phosphate granules around your plant.