Epiphyllum crenatum (also known as Disocactus crenatus and crenate orchid cactus) is a lovely succulent and produces beautiful white fragrant blooms. It’s ideally suited to growing in a hanging basket and can be grown outdoors in a protected spot or indoors near a nice bright window.
The plant has long fleshy green stems similar to other Epiphyllums (orchid cactus plants). The flowers are quite large and a lovely creamy white with very pale yellow centers. It can grow to a height of 36 inches and will spread to about 24 inches. You can control its growth habit by giving it a light prune after it has finished flowering.
If you have a balcony garden and you’re also growing vegetables, hang this Epiphyllum near your vegetables as it’s very good at attracting bees and other pollinators.
How to Plant and Grow Epiphyllum crenatum
This Epiphyllum is easy to grow and requires very little care once established. However, if you do give it some extra care, it will reward you with an abundance of sweetly fragrant flowers in spring.
How to Propagate Epiphyllum crenatum
You can easily propagate new plants from your own specimen by using stem cuttings. This is also an ideal way to prune your plant and keep its nice shape.
The best time to take stem cuttings is in late spring or after the plant has finished flowering. Once you have the cuttings, make sure that you let them dry out a little so that a callus forms on the cut ends of the stem.
When you see the ends of the stem callusing, you can then put these stems into a pot or plant tray filled with quality potting mix that you’ve added some perlite to. To help your stems to root faster, you can dip the ends in rooting hormone but this is not necessary.
Keep the soil moist but not wet, or add a little extra humidity by covering the plants with a cloche or plastic bag. It’s important not to overwater your cuttings to prevent them from rotting. With a little practice, you should be able to get this right in no time.
Once roots have started to form, you can take off the cloche and give your young plants a little extra light. But remember to keep them out of direct sunlight until they are well established.
Care and Maintenance
This is one Epiphyllum variety that doesn’t mind a little neglect as long as you don’t let it dry out completely and the temperature and humidity are in the right range.
Like most Epiphyllums, this variety likes a nice rich soil that is free-draining. You can use a cactus mix if you wish but you should add some additional organic matter to retain a little more moisture.
This Epiphyllum variety is not too fussy when it comes to water requirements, however, you shouldn’t let the soil dry out completely. Like other Epis, water around once a week during the warmer months and then cut this back to once every two or three weeks in winter.
The best time to fertilize your Epiphyllum crenatum is in the spring just before the flowers start to form. The added nutrients at this time will ensure that the plant rewards you with lots of lovely blooms.
Epiphyllum crenatum can be grown in full sun or part-shade. If you give the plant a little more sunlight in early spring, it will happily produce more flower buds for you.
In the warmer months, be sure to give your plant some shade from the hot afternoon sun. This should be fairly easy to achieve if you’re growing your Epiphyllum in a hanging basket.
Temperature and Humidity
The ideal temperature range for growing Epiphyllum crenatum is around 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant is not frost tolerant and growth will be hindered at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
This Epiphyllum will also benefit from a little extra humidity. Therefore, if you’re growing it inside, it can be helpful to give the stems a light misting every few days.
Epiphyllum crenatum tends to get a bit leggy if left unchecked. Therefore, a regular yearly prune will help to keep it in check. The best time to do this is just after the plant has finished flowering.
However, if you notice that the stems are getting a little out of hand, it won’t harm the plant if you clip them back a little at other times of the year.
Pest and diseases
Luckily, Epiphyllum crenatum is not prone to many diseases or pest attacks. In fact, it’s one of the easiest Epiphyllums to grow.
You might have the odd problem with common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, or scale. But, as you probably know, these are fairly easy to control.
You can either wash them off under running water if your plant is small enough or wipe off the leaves with a damp cloth that’s been dipped in neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Epiphyllum crenatum ‘Beavertail’ is one of the easiest Epiphyllum species to grow. It can handle a little neglect as long as the growing conditions are right. However, if you give the plant a little extra care, it will reward you with glorious fragrant blooms in the spring.
Check more orchid cactus varieties you can grow.
*Photo by 阿橋 HQ | Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) with permission.