From zero to six: epiphyllums move in

Ten days ago, I didn't have a single epiphyllum. Now I have half a dozen. That's how quickly things can change in our garden!

Priscilla, a new plant friend here in town, asked me if I wanted some epiphyllum cuttings since she hadn't seen any epiphyllum photos on my blog. At first, I was a bit hesitant, not wanting more plants I'd have to bring inside for the winter. But when she told me that hers have been fine outside, I immediately said yes. (Priscilla's experience with overwintering epiphyllums outside in Davis have since been confirmed by another local plant friend.)

I planted the epiphyllum cuttings from Priscilla in coir-lined metal baskets and hung them from branches on the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) in the backyard:

Epiphyllums are said to bloom best when root-bound so I went with 8" baskets and put two hybrids in each basket

From spring through fall, they'll receive fairly bright light but no direct sun. In the winter, they'll be in full sun at least during part of the day, but at that time of the year, any extra warmth will be appreciated.

Commonly called orchid cacti, epiphyllums (or epis for short) are epiphytic cacti native to Central America. There are untold named cultivars and hybrids, both within the genus Epiphyllum proper and with related genera in the cactus tribe Hylocereeae, including Disocactus (not to be confused with Discocactus, a genus of squat cacti from South America) and Selenicereus. In fact, epiphyllum hybrids often have more genes from other genera than from Epiphyllum

The Epiphyllum Society of America (ESA) is the International Registration Authority (IRA) for all epiphytic cacti hybrids of the Hylocereeae tribe. The ESA has a page with useful information on epi culture, including how to start cuttings. also has a wealth of information as well as photos of hundreds of named hybrids.

The plants my cuttings originally came from used to belong to my friend Priscilla's late mother, who kept detailed records of her plant purchases. Priscilla shared the pertinent information with me so now I know what hybrids/cultivars I have and what their provenance is. How cool is that?

Except for the first, all the photos (and notes) below are Priscilla's.

'Queen of the Night'
Came as a cutting in the 1950s from Priscilla's maternal grandmother (the plant in the photo above is from Stephen and Gary's East Bay garden)

“Very pale pink with slightly darker center. Cascading growth. Blooming later than other epis. Hybridizer Ed Stephens. Purchased 1983.”

'Queen Anne'
“White petals with faint yellow edges and yellow back petals. Purchased 1983. Hybridizer F. & O. Barr.”

'King Midas'
“Label damaged, only King remains but it does look like the photo in Epiphyllum Society catalog. Purchased 2003 CSUF [California State University Fullerton] plant sale.”

'Radiant Fire'
“This one was tagged as Radiant Fire, but it doesn't look like the one listed with the Epiphyllum Society of America. Purchased 1998 Cal State University Fullerton plant sale.”

'Reflected Glory' (bottom two flowers)

'Radiant Fire' and 'King Midas'

Ensemble shot

As is the case with many other cacti, epiphyllum flowers don't last long. The all-white species and hybrids seem to be the most short-lived, lasting maybe a day. Purple and red flowers sometimes last a couple of days; I have no idea why.

I'm a complete newbie when it comes to epiphyllums, but I guess I'll learn through trial and error.

UPDATE: A couple of days after writing this post, I was gifted a large clump of epiphyllum by friends who were getting for a move to another state. I put it in a 12-inch wire basket and it's now hanging from our chaste tree as well:

Red-flowering epi from Megan and Matti of Far Out Flora

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  1. Down the rabbit hole! What a lovely generous gift to get you into a whole new genus to collect. King Midas is gorgeous.

    1. I love pass-along plants. It makes me happy having pieces of other people's gardens in my own.

  2. You do need to keep expanding the boundaries of your succulent collection ;) I'll be interested to see how yours do. I have three in my lath house that I've been planning to move outside under the laurel hedge for the last year. Only one ('Queen of the Night') has bloomed thus far and I missed the single flower when it was at its peak.

  3. Recently just watched a video of a collector of epis from California. Plants hung everywhere in her garden and the bloom show was quite spectacular. Another collectable plant for you.

    1. When not in flower, epis are kinda dull, but I have them hanging in our chaste tree so they don't call too much attention to themselves.

  4. I had one since forever--it came with the house my Mom & Dad bought in '72 and I ended up with it after they passed into the great beyond. Got rid of it a couple years ago. We were both tired of each other.

    The LA Arb had the best display method--as I remember--a tall (15') chain link enclosure with shade cloth over top and the many plants arrayed in baskets hung on the chain link from down low up pretty high. So out of flower which is most of the time an orderly and ornamental cascade of foliage, like that French guy's vertical wall gardens, and in flower easy to enjoy the show. Sherman Gardens has them in a row in baskets on an out-of-the-way shaded stuccoed masonry wall, also orderly and ornamental greening up a plain wall. That's the trick, I guess, because they are out of flower 50 weeks a year...


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