Epiphyllum oxypetalum - Dutchman's-Pipe Cactus

Epiphyllum oxypetalum - Dutchman's-Pipe Cactus - Cactaceae

Epiphyllum oxypetalum, or Dutchman's-Pipe Cactus, is a large epiphytic cactus native from Mexico to Brazil. In nature, the plants can reach up to 20 feet (6.1 m) in height. The dark green branches are lanceolate, acuminate to 3 feet (0.9 m) in length and 4-5 inches (10-12 cm) wide and obliquely crenate. It is the most common Epiphyllum in cultivation today. They are very easy to grow and when in bloom they are very showy.

Blooming: In the greenhouse, our plants bloom in late spring to early summer. The nocturnal white flowers are very fragrant and large. Individual flowers can be up to 11 inches (27.9 cm) long and 5 inches (12.7 cm) wide. Flowers open in late evening and close by sunrise.

Culture: Epiphyllum oxypetalum need full sun to partial shade with a moist, well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part coarse sand to 1 part small pine bark added to ensure good drainage. The plants are watered on a daily basis and the soil mix is never allowed to dry out thoroughly. We fertilize the plants on a monthly basis with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label. As the soil mix breaks down, the roots of the plant can suffer from too much water and lack of air around the root mass. It is a very good idea to repot the plants every 2 years to keep the plants healthy. During the winter months in the greenhouse, water is somewhat restricted, but the soil mix is never allowed to dry completely. Fertilizer is withheld during this period.

Propagation: Epiphyllum oxypetalum is propagated by stem cutting, division of larger plants, and from seed when available.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum was featured as Plant of the Week July 13-19, 2007.

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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.