Hi Master Gardener,
I recently received and rooted these beautiful Epiphyllum Oxypetalum stems. May I ask how to properly grow, bloom and fruit these new plants in Toronto’s weather condition? Also, how long do they take to mature before flowering and fruiting?
Many thanks for your valuable information and guidance.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your query.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum commonly referred to as Queen of the Night or Orchid cactus is a native to the tropical jungles of Mexico and South America. This plant in it’s native habitat is a perennial and can grow upwards to 10’ tall. However in colder regions such as ours they are grown as indoor houseplants. These cacti like orchids and bromeliads are epiphytic. Epiphytes attach their roots to the surface of other plants and can receive it’s moisture and nutrients either from the air, rain, water or from debris accumulating around it.
Being epiphytic plants, these plants need a very loose, slightly acidic ( pH between 5.5 and 6.5) well draining potting mix. The Epiphyllum Society of America recommends using a camelia or azalea potting mix, to which you would add perlite and bark.
This plant does best when receiving indirect sun ( morning or afternoon sun). They do need some sunlight, though, or the flowers will not be able to bloom properly so a north facing window will not do. An east or west facing window would be an ideal location.
Like most succulents, this plant does not require a lot of water. In fact, over-watering can cause the roots to rot, which can be fatal. In general, you should allow the top inch or two of soil dry out before adding more water. Also, the plant should never sit in standing water.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum typically blooms in Spring or Summer. For best blooming, a low nitrogen fertilizer such as (2-7-7) can be applied once a month from spring through fall. Too much nitrogen can cause the overall size of your cactus to increase while decreasing the number of flowers it produces. Like always, make sure to read the directions on the package for proper dilution.
As the name implies the flowers of this plant will only bloom at night and each flower will be open for a single night. So be sure to check for open flowers every night so as not to miss these large fragrant blooms.
While proper lighting is always the number one key when it comes to getting this plant to flower another way to encourage blooming is to keep the plant somewhat potbound. Don’t be discouraged if your plant has not flowered. It can take anywhere from 3-6 years for this plant to begin flowering but once it starts sit back and enjoy their spectacular blooms.