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How to Grow and Take Care of Epiphyllum Oxypetalum

How to Grow and Take Care of Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a plant belonging to the Cactaceae family. It is known for its beautiful, fragrant, white-colored flowers. Gardenerdy provides information on growing epiphyllum oxypetalum, focusing on its light, water, and soil requirements.
Smita Pandit
Last Updated: Apr 28, 2018
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is an epiphyte, which means that it grows on other plants. However, it uses the other plant only for support, and not as a source of nutrition like parasites.
Native to Mexico and regions of Central and South America, Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a fast-growing plant that belongs to the Cactaceae family. The genus Epiphyllum comprises 19 species, and the species within this genus are sometimes commonly referred to as orchid cacti. Epiphyllum oxypetalum is one of the popular species under this genus. It is also known by other names such as the Dutchman's pipe cactus, queen of the night, etc. It produces large, white-colored flowers that bloom for a single night. Though it is referred to as nightblooming Cereus, as it is blooms for a single night like the other flowering cacti belonging to the Cereeae tribe, it is not related to the Cereus genus. To watch it in its full glory, all you need to do is provide this succulent plant with the ideal growing conditions. The following sections provide information on how to grow Epiphyllum oxypetalum, along with instructions on caring for this plant.
About Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum Flower
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum Flower
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum Bud
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum Bud
Genus: Epiphyllum
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Order: Caryophyllales
Scientific name: Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Also Called: Queen of the night, Dutchman's pipe
Plant Type: Perennial
Height: 10 feet
Leaf Type: Succulent
Flower Color: White
Flower Size: 11 inches in length and 5 inches in width
Flowering Season: Late spring, Early summer, Mid summer, Late Summer
Maintenance Category: Low
USDA hardiness zone : 10-11
Soil: Well-drained, slightly-moist
Soil Type: Slightly acidic, with soil pH within 5.5 to 6.5
Light Requirements: Bright, indirect light or partial shade
Watering Requirement: Average watering needs
Propagation: By dividing herbaceous stem cuttings or rhizomes
Foliage Color: Green
How to Grow Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
To be able to watch this flowering plant bloom, you must acquaint yourself with the conditions in which this plant grows best. Here are some instructions, ranging from the selection of the planting site, watering needs, to the preferred soil type for this plant.
Orchid cactus
Epiphyllum cactus flower
Light and Temperature Requirements
It must be noted that Epiphyllum oxypetalum prefers bright, indirect light. It doesn't grow well in direct sun. So, you could place it around a south-facing window, where the plant can get indirect light for at least 6 hours in a day. This plant doesn't tolerate temperatures above 100°F. Being a tropical plant, it prefers temperature within the range of 50 to 90°F. It does best in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 11. Therefore, it should not be exposed to temperatures below 35°F. It is advisable to bring the plant indoors, if the temperature falls below 40°F. Make sure that the plant is not kept around cooling or heating vents, as exposure to cold or hot drafts can cause a fluctuation in temperature.
Soil Type and Fertilizer
Choosing the right soil type is extremely important. In case of this night-blooming plant, it is advisable to use soil that is slightly acidic. You can use a potting medium that has peat moss, sand, and pine bark in the ratio of 2:1:1. Also, make sure that the soil is well-drained. This plant will grow better if it is slightly root-bound. The soil can be amended by applying a fertilizer. You can use organic matter to replenish the soil, or apply a balanced 20-20-20 liquid houseplant fertilizer or a fertilizer that contains less nitrogen. Apply the fertilizer once a month from spring through fall. Dilute the fertilizer to ensure that the plant doesn't get excess nitrogen. Excess nitrogen can cause the stems to grow, while reducing the number of blooms. Application of fertilizer can be avoided during winter and late fall.
Water the Epiphyllum oxypetalum plant regularly during summer. From spring through fall, water the plant every two weeks. Water the plant thoroughly until water drains from the bottom of the pot. Allow the soil to become slightly dry before you water the plant again. At the same time, excessive watering can cause damage to the root, making the plant susceptible to root rot. During summer, when the temperature becomes higher than 70°F, you can increase humidity by placing a water container around the plant or using a humidity tray. This plant will do well in 50% humidity. Reduce the frequency of watering during winter. Mature plants can survive even if they are watered sparingly during winter.
Due to the low rate of germination of the Epiphyllum oxypetalum seeds, it is advisable to propagate it through cuttings during spring or summer. Don't take the cuttings right after the flowering season. Take the cuttings about 2-3 weeks after the flowering season ends. All you need to do is take a 6-inch long cutting from the plant. It is advisable to make the cut at an angle so that you can identify which end needs to buried into the soil. Wrap the cutting and store it till the angled end becomes hard or thickened. Thereafter, place the cutting with the angled edge into the potting mixture. You can use a commercial potting mix that is meant for cacti. Dampen the potting mix. Place the plant in a bright spot, but make sure that it doesn't receive direct sunlight. Water only when the soil becomes dry. Don't go on a watering spree. Once the plant gets established, you can water it once a week during the growing season.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is susceptible to fungal leaf spot or black rot disease. The presence of black or brown spots on the leaves is often indicative of fungal leaf spot. Mealy bugs, aphids, slugs, mites, etc., are other pests that can cause damage to the plant. Excess watering can also cause damage to the roots. So, make sure that you place the plant in an appropriate location. Applying a strong stream of water can help wash off mealybugs and mites. However, keep the soil covered while spraying. This is to ensure that the soil doesn't get waterlogged. Sticky traps can also be used for getting rid of gnats. Application of organic insecticides can help control pest-related problems.
Gardening enthusiasts who are more inclined to grow flowering plants should think about growing the queen of the night flower. You will surely get a lot of joy from watching this flower bloom. Do provide the plant with the right type of soil, light, and other requirements, so as to get a chance to watch it bloom.