12 Types of Epiphyllum Cacti [With Pictures]

Epiphyllums are beautiful and rewarding plants to care for, especially when they bloom and produce exotic-looking flowers. They are not particularly difficult plants to care for, but there are a few things to keep in mind when caring for an Epiphyllum. The following is the ultimate guide to Epiphyllum care:

What Does Epiphyllum Mean?

Epiphyllum is a type of epiphytic cactus, as the name may have already suggested. This means that this type of cactus tends to grow on other plants to get physical support but is not a parasitic plant.

They can frequently be found growing naturally in Central America, though they certainly have been propagated in other parts of the world. They are sometimes also called orchid cacti because of the exotic-looking flowers that sprout from the leaves.

Is Epiphyllum a Succulent?

An Epiphyllum is a type of cactus, so it will technically also be characterized as a succulent. Epiphyllums do not need watering more than once a week because they have an elaborate water storage system that can see them through prolonged periods of drought.

There is a fine difference between cacti and succulents. While cacti can withstand high temperatures and can also bloom in bright sunlight, a succulent is any plant that stores water in its leaves, stems and roots. So, while all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti.

Types of Epiphyllum Cacti

Epiphyllum anguliger

epiphyllum anguliger

Epiphyllum crenatum

epiphyllum crenatum

Epiphyllum crenatum (Crenate Orchid cactus) is a very popular and well-known species with robust stems, leaf-like in appearance and has notched or scalloped margins. The outsize white, very fragrant flowers opening at night are exceptional in its genus for the longer duration of blooming the following days. It is free flowering and beautiful.

Epiphyllum cv. Fruhlingsgold

epiphyllum cv. fruhlingsgold

Epiphyllum cv. Fruhlingsgold is a small to medium Epiphyllum hybrid with funnelform flowers. Narrow yellow petals with darker yellow outer petals and has a medium to the intense scent of lemon. It is a profuse fragrant bloomer.

This variety can have a dozen or more buds on just one stem, if all are left on the stem to become mature blooms they will be smaller 5-7.5 cm in diameter and possibly lighter in color. If only one or two on a stem they can be up to 10-18 cm in diameter on average.

Epiphyllum floribundum

epiphyllum floribundum

Epiphyllum hookeri hookeri

epiphyllum hookeri hookeri

Epiphyllum hookeri

epiphyllum hookeri

Epiphyllum laui

epiphyllum laui

Epiphyllum lepidocarpum

epiphyllum lepidocarpum

Epiphyllum oxypetalum


Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a stout epiphytic or lithophytic, spineless cactus 3 meters long or more, much-branched with aerial roots. This species has long been cultivated and has always been a great favorite on account of the ease with which it is grown and the abundance of large white flowers it furnishes. These begin to open in the early evening and are perfect at about midnight.

It is the most commonly grown of the Epiphyllum species. E. oxypetalum is closely related to Epiphyllum thomasianum and Epiphyllum pumilum, but quite distinct.

Epiphyllum phyllanthus

epiphyllum phyllanthus

Epiphyllum phyllanthus is a much-branched epiphytic cactus, with thin and leaf-like stems segments, sometimes 3-winged. The flowers are slender and scented, up to 30 cm long, white in color, nocturnal and sweetly scented, the flower tube is greatly elongated (much longer than the limb).

The epiphytic, leafless aspect of these plants makes them hard to confuse with other cactus species.

Epiphyllum pumilum

epiphyllum pumilum

Epiphyllum thomasianum

epiphyllum thomasianum

How Do You Care for Epiphyllum?

Caring for Epiphyllum is all about maintaining the right balance between water, light and nutrition. You do not need to water Epiphyllum more than once a week, especially if the climate is temperate or humid.

If the plant has been kept indoors, make sure to put it by a window where it can get enough bright, albeit indirect sunlight. This light is important as this is how the plant will carry out photosynthesis and generate its food and nutrition.

Since this type of plant also does not require too much water, you should be careful about using commercial fertilizers that are too strong. You will not be able to water and dilute these fertilizers down and will risk fertilizer burn.

Other than that, be sure to maintain the right balance in the Epiphyllum’s environment. Give it ample natural light, fresh air and just the right amount of water. Epiphyllum, like most other succulents, does not require a lot of management as long as you are doing the basic things right.

How Do You Propagate Epiphyllum?

Epiphyllum are best propagated through cuttings of a healthy leaf from its stem. If you already have a parent plant that you wish to propagate, you can even take multiple cuttings.

Then plant the cuttings in a shallow pot with a drainage hole. You will need a special soil mix for this type of cactus as regular soil will not drain water in the way a cactus needs. Water the soil just so it is damp, but not wet.

The next step is to simply allow the cuttings to take root and grow. Do not overwater the cuttings. Like any other cactus or succulent, Epiphyllum also require watering only once a week. Also, ensure the plant gets just the right amount of light but not intense afternoon heat that may scorch the leaves.

Does Epiphyllum Like Humidity?

Since Epiphyllum are most frequently found in Central America, they are generally regarded as rainforest cacti and not desert plants. Therefore, they are used to a certain degree of humidity.

In fact, if the weather is too arid and dry, then there is a chance that the Epiphyllum will not thrive as well. It is important for the soil to be damp and hold moisture, while also draining effectively without allowing the water to accumulate at the bottom.

Read also:
How often do you have to water a cactus?

Does Epiphyllum Like the Sun?

does epiphyllum like the sun

Cacti in general like the morning sun over the full blast of the afternoon heat. It certainly needs a lot of natural light but it is best when the light is filtered so that the scorching heat does not char the leaves or dehydrate the cactus too much. So if you are caring for an epiphyllum, find a spot that is more or less in the shade, but which gets plenty of sun before noon.

How Long Does It Take for Epiphyllum to Bloom?

If you have propagated the cactus from a cutting, it can easily take up to three years to finally start blooming flowers. The cutting will take some time to sprout branches and develop into a new plant by itself.

Once the plant begins to flower, they will bloom annually around springtime and the flowers are likely to stay until the beginning of summer. Some types of Epiphyllum may bloom only for one night and wither by noon the next day. If the plant is already rooted, it may bloom in less than three years.