Disocactus phyllanthoides: Care and Propagation Guide

The Disocactus phyllanthoides is a succulent that belongs to the Cactaceae family. It is commonly known as the German Empress. It is found in several tropical parts of the world and makes for a popular houseplant.

This plant is known for its thick but flat stems that give way to leaves and pink or white flowers that also produce fruit of green and red colors.

disocactus phyllanthoides

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How to Care for Disocactus phyllanthoides

Disocactus phyllanthoides have prickly stems and can grow beautiful flowers. They bloom in spring or summer.

It is not too difficult to take care of Disocactus phyllanthoides. They are low maintenance and can bloom twice a year in the right weather conditions. Let’s dig deeper into the specifics of caring for Disocactus phyllanthoides.


Disocactus phyllanthoides love sunlight. Make sure to give them a lot of exposure to sunlight, especially during the summer. Ideally, leave them outdoors in the mornings and evenings. Move them to shady areas around noon.

They do not do well in extreme temperatures, so if the weather gets extremely hot or extremely cold, it would be better to move the plant indoors.

If you live in a tropical region, it is possible to grow Disocactus phyllanthoides outdoors. However, a potted plant is always more convenient to care for.

disocactus phyllanthoides care


Water abundantly during the growing period. Always flood the pot completely and make sure the soil is completely soaked. However, let the soil dry before watering again.

Like most cacti, the soak and dry method works best for Disocactus phyllanthoides. Overwatering can seriously harm the plant, so make sure that the plant is not sitting on an excess of water.

Do not water the plant much during the dormant period. You need to encourage the plant to stay dormant during the colder months until the growing period begins.

If the temperatures are falling below 10 degrees Celsius, Disocactus phyllanthoides can stay dry for longer periods of time.


Drainage is very important for Disocactus phyllanthoides. Pebbly or sandy soil provides great drainage and aeration for plants. Disocactus phyllanthoides can be damaged by water retention, so porous soil provides ideal growing conditions by facilitating quick drainage.

Soil mixes with about 40%-50% organic matter are best suited for Disocactus phyllanthoides. The type of pot used is also important.

Unglazed ceramic pots are permeable to water and air. This lets them aid drainage and they help in aeration too. Disocactus phyllanthoides thrive in unglazed ceramic pots.


Disocactus phyllanthoides plants grow slowly. Their shallow roots absorb nutrients along with water. Thus, liquid fertilizers work best for Disocactus phyllanthoides.

Use a nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer once a month during the growing season. You can also use regular cactus fertilizer to aid flowering.

Do not use fertilizer during the dormant season. August or September is usually the last month for fertilizing. Once the dormant seasons ends and spring begins, you can start adding fertilizer to the soil again.

Pests and Diseases

Disocactus phyllanthoides is not susceptible to any serious pests or diseases. Mealybugs might appear on your Disocactus phyllanthoides once in a while, but can be gotten rid of easily with an insecticide.

Make sure to isolate the plant as soon as you see signs of mealybugs like white fluff on the branches, discoloration or fallen needles. Always clear fallen flowers or other organic matter, as they attract a lot of pests while decomposing.

It is rare, but your Disocactus phyllanthoides may become with spider mites if left moist, especially during the summer. Insecticides are effective on spider mites too.

Like most cacti, Disocactus phyllanthoides is vulnerable to root rot. The key to preventing root or stem rot is to make sure the drainage is fast and the soil does not retain water.

disocactus phyllanthoides

How to Propagate Disocactus phyllanthoides

You can use both seeds and cuttings to propagate Disocactus phyllanthoides. If you are planting seeds, make sure to plant them in a good soil mix and place the pot in a partly shaded area.

If you are using cutting to propagate your Disocactus phyllanthoides, cut offshoots or stems with a pair of clean pruning shears or scissors. The cuttings must be at least an inch long.

Let the cuttings dry for a couple of weeks. The stem should have formed calluses at the site of cutting.

Plant the cuttings in the soil. Start watering them after a couple of weeks. They should start taking root soon. Transfer the propagated saplings to a suitable pot once they’re ready.

The temperature should be at a minimum of 22 degrees Celsius. From the time of cutting, your propagated Disocactus phyllanthoides will be ready for repotting in 6 to 12 weeks.