Epiphyllum - Epicactus
Epiphyllum – Epicactus

Grown for the brilliant flowers Epiphyllum are group of a epiphytic cacti species, commonly called Epicactus or simply ‘Epis’ and sometimes ‘Orchid Cactus’.

Most famous for the ‘Queen of the Night’ or ‘Night Blooming Cerus’ (Epiphyllum oxypetalum, although many varieties are well worth growing.

Most Epiphyllums offered for sale are hybrids, grown for larger and more colorful flowers.

So if you have a patio with good strong filtered light, and would like some of the most brilliant flowers you can imagine then Epiphyllum may well be the plant for you.

Plants are offered for sale online as cuttings, a good sized cutting will be 8 – 10 inches long. You can also buy rooted cuttings which is a great way to start a collection.

However this is actually the species from which other cacti are crossed with to produce what we commonly refer to as Epicactus. Disocactus phyllanthoides is one species widely used in creating these hybrids.Originally found in the tropical to sub tropical forest areas of Central and South America.

Easy to grow, and a favourite in California where they thrive in warm conditions, these are a tough plant and produce amazing flowers. Many growers choose hanging baskets to display these plants.


When growing Epiphyllum (epicactus) it is best remembered that in their original habitat they grow without much direct sun, ‘filtered light’ or ‘dappled shade’ is required. Many growers use shade cloth 70%.

Potting mix and basic care

  • Epiphyllum require moisture during the warmer months however they need to be protected from getting to wet in colder months.
  • Water well and then let the soil mix almost dry before watering again.
  • Constant watering causes fungal and root problems.
  • A free draining potting mix is essential.
  • Container size is important
  • Remember not to use really large containers for small plants, using containers that are to big for the plant tends to cause flowering problems as plants spend energy on growing roots, epicactus flower best when a little ‘pot bound’

Moving containers or hanging baskets around is another factor with plant health. Epiphyllum like a ‘constant’ climate.

If you move them they need to go into a similar climate. So same light and temperature. If you move them to a different area, with different light they tend to sulk, and even drop flower buds. However they will recover.

  • Watering
    This is one of the tricks in ensuring that the flower buds do not drop.
    Only water a little during bud development, overwatering can cause bud drop.
  • Fertilizer
    Fertilizing Epiphyllum requires a slow release fertilizer or a liquid seaweed based fertilizer.

Epiphyllum cuttings

Epiphyllum Varieties

It is the colorful hybrids that are widely offered, the color range is from white through pinks and Orange to Red and Purple.
A few species are highly sought after including

  • Epiphyllum oxypetalum. Queen of the Night or Dutchman’s Pipe.
  • Epiphyllum anguliger gigantea. Also known as the fishbone cactus.
  • Epiphyllum caudatum. A rarely offered white flowering species.
  • Epiphyllum pumilum. White flowering with smaller flowers than E. oxypetalum.
  • Epiphyllum crenatum. A white flowering species widely used in hybridisation.

Propagation From Cuttings

Growing Epiphyllum from cuttings is simple, once you have a good specimen you can easily propagate it.

  1. Cuttings are best taken during the warmer months and allowed to harden or ‘callous’ for a few weeks in a cool dry shaded position.
  2. Once they have hardened up Epiphyllum are ready to plant up into pots or containers.
  3. Use small pots at first and pot up as the plant grows, this will help with flower formation.
Plants and cutting are available for sale from the following specialist growers.

MATTSLANDSCAPE.COM – email Matt@Mattslandscape.com
32005 Avenida Evita San Juan Capistrano, Ca., U.S.A. 92675
Mail order worldwide nursery offering 1000s of Epiphyllum, Dragon fruit, Echinopsis, Schlumbergera, Cacti Epiphytes and various cacti of all kinds.