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HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF THIS INTERESTING PLANT?
As every gardener knows, seeds are the commonest means of reproduction in flowering plants. Seed production is basically a sexual process, involving the union of sperm and egg cells before the seeds are finally formed.
The Epiphyllum Hybrid readily crosses with one another by the transportation of pollen from the anthers of the flower of the pollen parent to the stigmas of the flower of the seed parent. A cotton swab is a great tool to accomplish this task. When the stigma is ready to be pollinated (receptive), it is usually fully expanded and often becomes sticky. A seed pod (or apple) will form at the base of the flower and will begin to enlarge until (in most cases) it turns reddish in color. At this point, one may cut the apple open and extract the seed for planting. The result of this process will be a NEW Epiphyllum Hybrid. How exciting.
For the purpose of this discussion, the care of this plant, we will turn our attention to the propagation of the Epiphyllum by cuttings. This is the only way we are able to transport a "like kind" hybrid cutting from one person to another, as I am sure you understand that the crossing of one hybrid with another, will result in a new flower.
The strong branches of the Epiphyllum do not wilt or dry out rapidly when cut. They will remain fresh and succulent for weeks and it is for this reason that we say they are easily transported. After you have acquired a cutting, you might consider dipping the cutting in "Rootone" or other similar material that will assist in the development of roots. Products such as "Rootone" are available under several trade names. In general, powders are the best for amateur use. We suggest that you follow the manufacturers' instructions.
The cutting should be allowed to dry in a cool place, from one to two weeks before planting. This drying out permits the branch to callous, thereby preventing the possibility of rot when planted and watered. We suggest a cutting from 6" to 12" in length, but most growers prefer to sell rooted cuttings or small established plants. This method of purchase, from a grower, will save the impatient amateur at least a year in blooming time. Your potting mix should be slightly damp (but never soggy) when you install the new cutting. Tie the cutting loosely to a stake for support and withhold water for several weeks, then start watering gradually. Keep the soil moist but, as we have said, NEVER SOGGY. At the same time, never allow your new cutting to become completely dry.
You might find some of our information to be complicated or worrisome, but we assure you that the Epiphyllum is a very sturdy plant and will survive even under some most unfavorable growing conditions, so not to worry.
We suggest that your potting mix be "loose" with enough coarse material to keep it from compacting. The are as many mix suggestions as there are recipes for a chocolate cake but we suggest that you use a commercial potting mix low in nitrogen to start. You will develop your own mix as time and experience prevails.
After your cutting has been in the original mix for about a year and has produced new growth, you may want to start feeding the plant some food, no stronger that 8-8-8. Repot as the plant becomes root-bound in a larger container.
The Epiphyllum loves filtered sunshine and enjoys humidity. They will grow almost anywhere but like lath or saran cover or even in a tree. A nice sunny window will do fine when they must be grown indoors.
Pests are few, but if noticed on the plant or buds, utilize the applicable insecticide as described in the manufacturers' instructions.
We have told you that the Epiphyllum will thrive with neglect, but if given a little love and care, they will provide blossoms that are breath-taking and very spectacular.