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Disocactus phyllanthoides (German Empress)

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Scientific Name

Disocactus phyllanthoides (DC.) Barthlott

Common Names

German Empress, Giant Empress, Pond Lily Cactus

Synonyms

Cactus phyllanthoides (basionym), Cereus phyllanthoides, Epiphyllum phyllanthoides, Nopalxochia phyllanthoides, Phyllocactus phyllanthoides

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Hylocereeae
Genus: Disocactus

Description

Disocactus phyllanthoides is a freely-branching epiphytic cactus with green or reddish stems that grow up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long. The primary stems are up to 16 inches (40 cm) long and 0.25 inch (0.6 cm) thick, woody at the base and flattened at the apex. The secondary stems are flat, lanceolate, acute with coarsely scalloped margins, toothed, up to 12 inches (30 cm) long and up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Flowers are pink, funnel-shaped, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and up to 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide. Ellipsoid fruits are up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long and slowly ripen from green to red.

Photo via kuentz.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Many of the cultivated plants known as Epiphyllum hybrids are derived from crosses between species of Disocactus (rather than Epiphyllum) and other genera in the Hylocereeae.

Disocactus should be grown in a rich but still well-draining soil. They should be watered regularly and fertilized as well. This is essential for good growth and flowering. During the growing period, the plants need frequent watering. The waterings should be rather abundant so that the soil becomes completely soaked, but let dry between watering. Keep relatively dry in winter or when night temperatures remain below 50 °F (10 °C).

These cacti dislike extreme heat and cold, so they are best green-housed during the depth of winter and heat of summer in hot dry climates. They also prefer shade to sun and like a little extra humidity in the air.

Disocactus can be reproduced both by seeds and cuttings.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Disocactus.

Origin

Disocactus phyllanthoides is native to Mexico (Puebla, Veracruz).

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