Starting a plant from a cutting
"Epies" are easily grown from cuttings. Just follow these simple steps-
1. Obtain a cutting approximately 6-8 inches long. If desired, apply root promoting hormone to the end to be planted.
2. Cure the cutting in a cool, dry, dark place for at least ten days to let a callus form over the cut.
3. Use a relatively small pot, no larger than 4 inches across. Epies like to be slightly rootbound.
4. When planting, hold the cutting in the empty pot with two or more areoles below the soil line. Add potting mix around the cutting till the cutting can stand on its own. Do not compress the mix.
5. WITHHOLD WATER for two weeks. (Optional - mist the cutting every few days. Don't soak the soil.) Once the cutting begins to root and shows some new growth, begin to water. From then on, never let the mix become bone dry. Let water run out of the drain holes every time you water. Continue misting, if you choose. Though epies are members of the cactus family, their needs differ from those of desert cacti
Cultural instructions for epiphyllums
- LIGHT- No direct midday sun. 75% shade is preferable. Early morning or late afternoon sun is okay.
- COLD - Protect epies from frost.
- SOIL- Loose, fast draining & slightly acid, with 1/3 coarse material to resist compacting.
- WATER- Keep roots slightly moist but never soggy.
- FERTILIZER - Avoid high nitrogen fertilizer. Use balanced plant food, (10-10-10), at half strength, monthly, beginning in June, or in June only if using time release type. In November use 0-10-10 to harden new growth, and again in February to stimulate budding. Do not fertilize in Winter.
- FLOWERS bloom in a year or two, usually February through June for most varieties.
- LABEL cuttings by name. Put a name tag in your epi's pot so you'll know its name years from now.
PESTS and DISEASES can sometimes attack your plants.
- Snails love to eat epiphyllum branches and can do a great deal of damage in a short period of time. The best prevention is to keep your pots up off of the ground. Hang your plants in baskets to keep snails away.
- Scale looks like brown flecks on the branches. If you can easily scrape brown flakes off with your fingernail, it is scale, a very small insect pest, and not a disease. Scale can be removed with an alcohol-soaked q-tip, but is likely to return quickly. For better control, use a systemic insecticide like Bonide. If you are using a systemic insecticide, keep your pets away from your plant and don't harvest the fruit for consumption.
- Mealybugs are sometimes seen on the branches or in the soil. Control in the same manner as for scale. Repotting with fresh soil may be helpful in controlling scale and/or mealybug.
- Spotting of the branches or branch dieback is most often due to keeping the soil too wet (ie watering too frequently.) The offending pathogens may be bacterial, fungal or even viral. Do not water your plant until the soil is nearly dry, but not "bone dry." A soil moisture meter will help to eliminate guesswork. Watering should be done early in the day to allow branches to dry before nightfall. Water remaining on the branches for extended periods of time, particularly when the air is cold, will result in unsightly black spots which permanently mar the branch and sometimes Brown spotting known as "rust" can occur for the same reason. If you notice spotting on the branches or excessing branch dieback, carefully remove your plant from the pot and examine the roots to see if they are healthy. If not you will need to repot with fresh mix, and keep the plant on the dry side, (but not bone dry) until the plant sends out new branches and roots. Be sure to remove any diseased branches so they don't infect neighboring plants. Alternatively, you can restart a new plant from healthy cuttings and discard the old, unhealthy root ball.
- VIral diseases are more difficult to treat. The only clue to the presence of virus is usually in the appearance of the flowers. If you notice flowers with a flame-like appearance in color distribution, your plant is likely infected with Cactus Virus X. This can sometimes affect the overall vigor of the entire plant, and the virus can spread to other plants in your collection. For this reason, using sterilized cutting tools between plants is a must. You can flame sterilize your shears or wipe with alcohol (less effective). The only sure-fire cure for cactus virus is to discard any affected plants. Some people claim to have some success in controlling cactus virus by watering affected plants with a weak aspirin solution. Others do not feel the cactus virus is a serious issue, and enjoy the unusual blossoms the virus produces. It is an individual decision as to how to treat virus-infected plants.
- Sunburn and frostbite look similar. With too much direct midday sun or too much time in temparatures below freezing, the branches will become scarred with white scabby material, or may even die outright. Protect your plants from direct midday sun and below freezing temperatures.
- Pests and diseases can be definitively diagnosed through your local agricultural extension, usually at no charge to you. Click here to locate your local service.
- For more extensive culture information, see "Culture Tips", which are keyed to the season, in the Bulletin (the quarterly newsletter of the ESA).