Orchid Cactus Care and Blooming

orchid cactusVirtues: Orchid cactus is an easy-to-grow houseplant that produces stunning flowers over a period of several weeks in the spring. It tolerates dry air and lapses in watering.

Common name: Orchid cactus

Botanical name: Epiphyllum hybrids

Exposure: Bright light but no direct sun

Season: Spring into summer, for flowers.

Flowers: Showy, large flowers appear from notches in the leaves in spring and into summer. There are many named cultivars that offer a full range of colors.

orchid cactusFoliage: It has long, flattened, narrow stem-like leaves with scalloped edges. Orchid cactus does not have noticeable spines.

Habit: Orchid cactus grow as a clump of flattened leaves that droop and dangle to 20 inches long. Their habit makes a hanging basket their ideal vessel. They can also be potted in a regular container that is placed high on a shelf.

Origins: Tropical rain forests of Central and South America, where they live in treetops. They use their host tree only as physical support.

How to grow orchid cactus: These tree-dwelling epiphytic cacti look best growing in a hanging basket, from which their long, flattened stems can hang down and their impressive flowers can dangle at or just above eye level. Use a light, porous potting mix with excellent drainage, keeping in mind that in the wild these plants grow not in the soil but atop tree branches. Let the soil dry out completely between waterings; when you do water, soak it thoroughly.

To encourage bloom, provide 8 to 12 weeks of cool temperatures in winter (40˚F to 60˚F at night, only slightly warmer in the day) and forgo watering during this time. Begin watering again and bring the plant to a warmer location once the flower buds appear.

Top photo credit: iSkydancer / iStock / Getty Images

Bottom photo credit: Hgalina / iStock / Getty Images

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