Epiphyllum is the genus commonly called “Orchid Cactus.” That common name comes from the appearance of the plant when not blooming (cactus-like) and the beautiful flowers (not really orchid-like, but very pretty). This genus of about 20 species is in the Cactaceae family, so it truly is a cactus. It is found in Central America.
The plant itself has a growth habit similar to my Stapelia, with long, lanky stems – which I guess are technically the leaves of a cactus. Epiphyllums also bloom from the end of long cascading stems. However, the stems of the Stapelia have more bulk to them, whereas Epiphyllums are slender with a central vein that is a little thicker. But this plant is not grown for its green stems. It is grown for it’s beautiful blooms. Take a look!
One of the most widely recognized Epiphyllums has a pure white bloom and has some spidery petals. It is called Queen of the Night and is supposed to bloom primarily during the dark house. Epiphyllum blooms are very short-lived (just one day), so we were very lucky to see a couple dozen blooms of different colors at the Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle.
Like the Fuschias, many of the Epiphyllums on display were colorful hybrids, which are commonly kept as houseplants. From what I’ve read, this genus is a pretty easy houseplant. It has the inherent trait of other cacti, being drought hardy, while also growing well in part shade.
Next time I have a chance to buy an affordable Epiphyllum, I’ll be happy to take one home!