Epiphyllum - abundantly blooming forest cacti
Despite the confusion over the past decades with the name “Christmas cactus,” some of the most recognizable and vibrant forest cacti of the epiphyllum remain universal favorites. Leafless, with flattened stems, amazingly blooming, hybrid epiphyllums with their drooping shoots and delicate flowers do not require particularly difficult care from the owners. Hardy and durable, well taking root in living rooms, they are able to become the brightest plant among blooming succulents in any collection.
Epiphyllum - a description of the plant
Among indoor plants it is difficult to find plants whose name would cause as much controversy and confusion as representatives of the genus Epiphyllum (Epiphyllum) These cacti sometimes disappeared from the shelves, sometimes bored, but in the whole history they never really left the greenhouse-flower scene.
As soon as the name of the epiphyllums was not distorted and not used: the name of this cactus was attributed to Schlumberger, Ripsalidopsis, and almost all zygocactuses. Phyllocactuses were excluded from their ranks and then included. And today, in catalogs, epiphyllums are very often mistakenly confused with Schlumberger, although in fact this plant is quite distinctive.
It is easiest to distinguish epiphyllums from their relatives by flowering. Any attribution of leafless epiphyllums to leaf cacti is a mistake, albeit a common misconception.
Epiphyllums got their name because of the blooming of flowers directly on separate “leaves” - leaf-shaped, flat stems, which are often confused with this cactus with the leaves of other forest epiphytes. Popular nicknames are either flaming, leaf-like, or orchid cacti.
In nature, epiphyllums are distributed throughout the planet within the tropical climate, where they settle as fairly large epiphytes in moist forests on vines and arboreal trees.
Epiphyllums are leafless shrubs with drooping, rather than upright shoots. This is one of the most famous leafless epiphytes and a visiting card of the whole group of abundantly flowering forest cacti. The base of skeletal shoots is gradually lignified, they change shape from flattened to round or triangular.
The height of the epiphyllum ranges from half a meter to 100 cm, the real size of the plant is determined by the length of their shoots. “Breadcrumbs” or compact epiphyllums are not. Their huge flowers and long stems look massive, and the plant itself is quite spreading.
In the development of epiphyllum, a dormant period lasting from November to March, when shoot growth resumes, is pronounced. Without creating the appropriate conditions during this period, the cactus will not bloom.
Leafy shoots of epiphyllum
The stems of epiphyllums are not so actively divided, but the skeletal old shoots produce many new young stems, similar to giant stiff leaves. At first they grow straight and remain quite tender, but gradually bend like linear leaves.
Epiphyllums do not form dense bushes even with age, but the number of stems still increases, as does the rate of their growth. They are very flattened, very rarely - trihedrally flattened, stiff, but still very fleshy, long, either creeping or drooping. A typical dull-bluish medium green color perfectly emphasizes the beauty of the flowers and looks very attractive.
The stems, due to their large size and bends, appear leafy, even despite the filigree wavy or dentate edge typical of all epiphytic cacti. Spines in adult plants do not form.
Epifillums do not let out real leaves, although they remain forest but leafless cacti. But they form aerial roots directly on the stems, which most epiphytic cacti cannot boast of.
Flowering and fruiting of epiphyllums
Epiphyllum blooms very profusely, starting in May and completing its parade closer to the end of summer. Usually this cactus blooms from the third year. Epiphyllums blooming on Christmas day are artificially driven out with a dormant phase shift to correct flowering periods. But typical epiphyllums are summer-flowering plants.
They, unlike many flowering cacti, have been in the budding stage for an amazingly long time. Differing in shape, size (from 3 cm to almost 35 cm) and structure, funnel-shaped flowers of epiphyllum with a sufficiently long tube can be simple or double. But still it seems very large and catchy.
The receptacle is almost the same length as the flower, with a pale color, small green bracts. Epiphyllums have ten thin, pointed, forming an ideal circle or slightly bent back outer perianth lobes. Lanceolate petals with rounded edges are straight, form a funnel-shaped, gradually opening flower.
Despite the fact that the lengths of the inner and outer lobes are the same, even monophonic epiphyllums have the effect of an outer wrapper or outer circle on which lies a gorgeous flower. In the throat are beautifully visible beautiful, arranged in two rows, luminous stamens and a white long pestle.
Large epiphyllum flowers bloom very quickly, holding on to the plant for only 2-3 days. But a large number of buds allows the cactus to bloom continuously and such a fragility of the general flowering is almost imperceptible.
Almost all epiphyllums are quite fragrant and pleasantly surprise not only with their beauty of the structure, but also with the intensity of a refreshingly sweet smell.
The color scheme of epiphyllums includes all the classic “cactus” shades - from bright scarlet, with which the flowering of epiphyllums is usually associated, to white, cream, orange, pink, purple and even lilac varieties. Red-colored epiphyllums seem to be engulfed by a blooming fire, but even with a different color, the effects of color waves, a cascade, cloud or flame are preserved.
Unlike the stems, the ovary and tube of the epiphyllum are covered with thorns and hairs. Fruiting from the epiphyllum can be achieved only by artificial pollination of plants. Edible, very beautiful, bright red fruits adorn a cactus no less than its flowers.
Types and varieties of epiphyllum
Species epiphyllums in room collections are not found today. Despite the presence of almost 20 species in the genus Epiphyllum, cultivated species of species growing in Central and South America are rarely used.
The number of species epiphyllums still encountered include:
- Epiphyllum acuminate (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) - a beautiful view with the ability to grow up to 2 m linear dark green, flat shoots and snow-white flowers, similar to terry stars and slightly reminiscent of edelweiss. This epiphyllum is famous for its aroma.
- Epiphyllum serrated (Epiphyllum crenatum) - a spectacular, well-scrubbing cactus with shoots up to 1 m high, forming bushes of almost the same diameter. The mid-green color of the flat shoots is combined with a bright, beautiful jagged edge and abundant flowering, creating a cascade effect.
But still, most of the plants that can be purchased are hybrid varieties obtained by crossing these species with various ceres. They boast improved characteristics, mainly - much more abundant flowering and greater compactness. But the most important thing is the ability to bloom not only at night, like their wild relatives, but also to show off luxurious flowers in the daytime.
Very often, epiphyllum hybrids are labeled synonymously - as phylloctactus (Phyllocactus).
Conventionally, epiphyllums are divided into ampelous, with shoots hanging down, forming cascades and bush, with more direct, drooping shoots only with age. The latter are divided into tall and undersized, with the “dwarfs" almost crowding out their large counterparts.
Epiphyllums are always chosen for flowering - color shade, size and structure of flowers, which differ in different varieties. The best varieties of epiphyllum are yellow-flowered Reward and George french, dark yellow King midas, green Nicoleyellow with fancyly twisted petals Queen annepink Meadow Rosepurple pink Wendychanging color from pink to purple variety Impellopink-fawn Madras ribbonorange-purple variety Pegasus, red-pink grade Space rocket and so forth
Growing conditions for indoor epiphyllums
Light-loving, but not sun-loving, epiphyllum would be one of the easiest cacti to grow, if not for the requirements for a cool winter. Lighting and resting temperatures are critical to the flowering of this cactus.
Lighting and placement
Unlike many very capricious to bright lighting during the flowering period of cacti, the epiphyllum fully justifies its forest status, it grows well and blooms in any bright place or light partial shade. It does not tolerate direct sunlight on the southern windows (and it is always better to protect it from midday rays), but it is not necessary to place epiphyllums on the windowsill only.
During the flowering period, it is unacceptable to reduce lighting, rearrange plants further from the window (but it can be increased at the stage of budding). In winter, lighting is best adjusted to maintain familiar conditions.
Temperature and ventilation
During the period of active growth, epiphyllums remain one of the most heat-loving cacti. They are good at room temperatures, but they are not afraid of heat, provided that they are properly watered.
The dormancy period of epiphyllums should be carried out in cool, in the temperature range from 10 to 15 degrees. A sharp transition is undesirable, if desired, the temperature is gradually lowered in the fall. Cool wintering is one of the main conditions for flowering. But without reducing watering, success will be difficult.
Epiphyllums are big lovers of fresh air, they can die indoors without regular ventilation. If the weather permits, this cactus will prefer to completely ventilate or move to an open balcony, terrace, garden shaded area protected from rain in the floor in the garden.
Epiphyllum, which spent the summer in the garden, traditionally blooms more plentifully than their counterparts left in the rooms during the hottest season, and they grow much faster.
Epifillum care at home
This is not a cactus that is difficult to care for, which surprises with its moisture lovingness. He prefers fairly frequent watering during a period of active growth and will not refuse even modest, but frequent top dressing. Provided that the conditions for the resting period are correctly selected, growing epiphyllum will be easy even for beginner growers.
Watering and humidity
Despite belonging to cacti, the epiphyllum is very afraid of drying out the substrate and during the period of active growth it needs to be irrigated so that the substrate is stably medium moist.
Watering is carried out with a small amount of water, but often trying to let the 2nd – 3rd upper centimeters of soil dry in containers. Abundant watering increases the risk of waterlogging and rotting of the roots and is less tolerated by this plant than moderate, but more frequent.
The transition to a dormant period with very rare irrigation, supporting only turgor stems, irrigation, sharply different from irrigation during active growth, should be smooth for epiphyllums. Reduce watering after cessation of feeding, gradually reducing their frequency and amount of water.
At any time of the year, watering should be carried out carefully, without soaking the stems and immediately draining the water from the pallets.
In addition to the usual such procedures, epiphyllums need regular hygiene measures. Dust must be removed from the surface of their shoots, non-blooming shoots will not refuse to strangle or immerse in water for 2-3 hours.
This cactus tolerates and loves spraying, which is carried out during the operation of heating systems and very dry air in the summer. But for epiphyllums, it is necessary to use finely dispersed “foggy” nozzles.
Fertilizing and fertilizer composition
No matter how actively the epiphyllum blooms, it remains sensitive to the excess fertilizer plant. Top dressing is carried out only during the period of active growth, completing them back in August for the normal preparation of the cactus for wintering. Top dressing can be carried out with a standard frequency, but reducing the concentration of fertilizers by 2-3 times, or more rarely - 1 time per month. For epiphyllums, top dressing is carried out only by the liquid method and only after watering.
Special fertilizers are preferred for cacti and succulents, which in the summer can be alternated with organic top dressing.
Epiphyllum pruning and shaping
On this forest cactus, pruning is only sanitary. Damaged, elongated and non-blooming, dry, as well as deformed shoots, are usually removed completely in the spring, stimulating the growth of new flowering branches. Partial pruning of "leaves" usually still leads to their gradual death.
Transplant, containers and substrate
Epiphyllums love stable conditions and tolerate transplantation very poorly. It is carried out only when the plant has nowhere to grow, annually replacing only the top contaminated soil layer.
Oddly enough, it is better to transplant this plant not at usual times, but after flowering: adaptation to the dormant period allows you to get more abundant flowering. But a transplant in February for epiphyllums is quite acceptable.
Epiphyllums, unlike many cacti, love humus-rich soils. They will prefer to grow in slightly acidic, high-quality, drained substrates, a little coarser than ordinary substrates for succulents, although they are quite suitable for epiphyllums.
In addition to binding sand, the substrate should contain acidifying peat, sphagnum, horn shavings, and wood ash. If the soil is mixed independently, then for epiphyllum in equal parts combine leaf, humus and sod soil.
Epiphyllums require accuracy, because the bushes are not easy to hold. When planting, it is impossible to deepen the plant, leaving the previous level of location. After transplantation, epiphyllums should not be fed. If they are carried out after flowering, then top dressing is included in care only in the spring. If the transplant is unplanned - not earlier than 5-6 weeks after this procedure.
Diseases, pests and problems in growing epiphyllum
This is not the most enduring of cacti. Epiphyllums often suffer from spider mites, aphids and scale insects. Moreover, the aphid adores blooming epiphyllums and most of all threatens them when carried out to fresh air. To protect plants, it is necessary to combine treatment with pests by bio- or conventional insecticides, and adjust the conditions of detention, increasing humidity and conducting hygiene procedures.
Of the diseases on epiphyllums, rot most often occurs, and even then, provided that they are kept in cold and system overflow. You can deal with them only by transplantation with the removal of damaged parts.
The main method for the propagation of epiphyllums remains cuttings. From seeds, this plant is practically not grown at home.
Cuttings of epiphyllum are cut from strong, young and intact shoots. Usually the stems are cut into fragments of 4-6 cm, processing the sections with charcoal and leaving them to dry for 2-3 days, until a dense film forms at the place of the section. Aging in a growth promoter speeds up the rooting process.
Cuttings are rooted in sand, best in large or river, preliminarily calcining it, under a cap or film, keeping the soil moisture light and stable. With a large amount of planting material, rooting can also be carried out in water, deepening the lower sections by 1-1.5 cm.