Orchid Cactus: How to Grow Care Guide

Hi Judy
I have a EPIPHYLLUM ORCHID CACTUS I think. I got it over the summer last year from my aunt. I absolutely love it. It bloomed one flower in late August. I was only watering it once a week. I keep her hanging high by a window, but for the past two months I have noticed that the stems are turning like a dry brown, closest to the soil. I have increased the water a little at a time. I’m not sure if its helping. I’m real worried. My aunt loves that plant so much and gave it to me because she knew I feel in love with it and would care for it properly. I’d hate to disappoint her if its something I can fix.
Please help. Thank you!


Red Orchid Cactus

Orchid Cactus

Taking care of these beautiful plants is a bit of a balancing act. They don’t like to be wet especially in the winter, but they also shouldn’t totally dry out.

An Orchid Cactus, scientific name is Epiphyllum, needs to go dormant for about 8-10 weeks during the winter months if you hope to have it bloom the next year. So during the winter, lower the temperature to around 45-50 degrees (if possible), water sparingly, and do not fertilize. Total darkness at night is a plus.

In the spring, move an Orchid Cactus into bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light..

Feed your Orchid Cactus every two weeks from the end of March to November, when it is actively growing, with a plant food high in potassium diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength.

An Orchid Cactus is easily propagated in the spring using 5″ stem cuttings

You should try to re-pot your plant every other year or so (in the Spring and never when it’s blooming), using  a pot just an inch or two larger. These plants bloom more when a little root-bound. Once the buds appear, do not move the plant, if you do your orchid cactus may drop buds and flowers; and keep it away from drafts and heating vents.

As far as the browning on the stems, first make sure the plant isn’t drying out too much or isn’t too wet. When the top 50% of the soil has totally dried out, water well until the water comes out the bottom drip holes in the pot. Second, be sure your Orchid Cactus isn’t near a heating vent. The hot air can damage the stems. If your plant is browning and brittle much more on one side than another and is near a window, be sure there is no cold draft blowing on it.