Epiphyllum Plant Care: Tips For Growing Epiphyllum Cactus

Look into growing some of the ten species of epiphyllum, or orchid cactus. Find them in garden centers or online, and grow them in much the same way you’d grow an orchid.

Pink Epiphyllum Plant
(Image credit: barbaraaaa)

Quick Facts:

Botanical name: Epiphyllum spp. 

Height: 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 cm)

Spread: 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 cm)

Sun exposure: Filtered sun

Soil requirements: Loose, well-drained

Hardiness zones: 10 to 12

When to plant: Year-round indoors

Epiphyllum is a genus of flowering epiphytes native to Central and South America. Also known as orchid cactus, these plants produce brilliant blooms and grow on trees as air plants. In North America, it only makes sense to grow Epiphyllum as a houseplant, like you would an orchid.

Epiphyllum Varieties

There are ten species of Epiphyllum and many hybrids. Some of the types you might find for sale in garden centers or online include:

Epiphyllum oxypetalum Also known as Queen of the Night, this species produces big white flowers that bloom at night.

Epiphyllum chrysocardium This species has toothed leaves and produces white flowers.

Epiphyllum hookeri This is a subspecies prized for its wavy foliage.

“Clown” This is a hybrid cultivar often referred to as Epiphyllum with white and pink blooms.

“George French” This pretty variety produces cheery yellow flowers.

Orchid Cactus Care

Provide the right conditions for an Epiphyllum plant and it will thrive as an unusual houseplant.


Epiphyllum grow in the filtered light of jungle trees. Provide partial shade or filtered and indirect light. Plants can tolerate some direct morning light.


Do not let Epiphyllum roots and potting mix dry out entirely. On the other hand, overwatering is a surefire way to kill it. Water when the top third of the mix is dry.

Temperature & Humidity

Epiphyllum grow in hot conditions. They will not tolerate freezing or lower temperatures. However, to force blooms in early winter, let them sit somewhere with cooler temperatures (50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 10 to 16 Celsius) for a few weeks.


As an air plant, orchid cactus should not be grown in soil. A cactus or succulent mix is a good choice.


Use a balanced, liquid fertilizer regularly through the growing season. At the start of flowering in late fall or early winter, switch to a 2-10-10 fertilizer.

Problems, Pests & Diseases

If grown indoors, pests are not an issue with Epiphyllum. Watch out for slug and snail damage if grown outside. Rot and fungal diseases are common issues associated with overwatering.

How to Plant Epiphyllum

Epiphyllum is best grown in containers indoors in most locations. Use a container that drains very well and a potting mix that is very loose and will drain. While Epiphyllum love moisture, too much is deadly.


Stems of Epiphyllum plants can get long. You can trim them back to maintain a certain size. Pruning the stems will also create new shoots and a fuller plant. Remove flowers after they have faded.

Orchid Cactus Propagation

Epiphyllum are easy to propagate by cuttings. Remove a stem and cut it into sections. To minimize the risk of rot, let the cuttings sit in a cool, dry spot for a few days. Place the cuttings in the potting mix to root. Mist the cuttings only for the first two weeks, then begin to water them lightly.


Repot an orchid cactus when the roots begin to show in the bottom of the container. Choose a new pot that is just a little bigger than the original.


When growing Epiphyllum as houseplants, they need less care in winter. Reduce watering and fertilizer.

How to Make Epiphyllum Flower

Epiphyllum need a cool period to flower in winter. At the start of winter, place your plant in cooler part of the house, like a basement or even the garage, for a couple of weeks. Avoid locations that will be colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 Celsius). They also prefer to be slightly rootbound to flower.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Do Epiphyllum Bloom?

Epiphyllum bloom in the winter and spring, depending on the species. Look for flowers between November and June.

How Long Do Epiphyllum Flowers Last?

Depending on the species and conditions, an Epiphyllum’s flowers might bloom for a few days or a week. They last longer in cooler temperatures.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.