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What are Epiphytic Cacti?


Forget what comes to mind when you imagine a cactus, because Epiphytic Cacti do not grow in sand nor do they have large spikes.

Epiphytic Cacti are members of the Cactus family (Cactaceae), native to South and Central American rainforests, at altitudes ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet (900 to 1,500 m).

Unlike most cacti, which live in arid, desert conditions, Epiphytic Cacti growing in rainforests may receive up to 157 inches (400 cm) of rainfall annually.

They are called epiphytic because they grow on other plants, although they are not parasites. With their roots, they anchor themselves in the crotches of tree branches, where organic matter tends to collect and decompose. This light, loose medium allows water and oxygen to reach the plants' roots, which absorb the water and dissolved nutrients.

Various species of Epiphytic Cacti with interesting foliage and spectacular blooms are currently available on the market. Schlumbergera (Christmas Cacti and Thanksgiving Cacti) cultivars are easy to find and come in a wide range of colors. Hatiora (Easter Cacti) cultivars are increasingly popular, as are cultivars of Epiphyllum (Orchid Cacti). Their names generally refer to the season when they bloom.

Epiphytic Cacti

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There are many different species of Epiphytic Cacti and they all thrive under essentially the same growing conditions. Look for the following genera: Rhipsalis, Selenicereus, Disocactus, Hylocereus and Weberocereus.

Understanding what makes Epiphytic Cacti special will help you make the best decisions concerning their care. They need well-draining medium with lots of air space and thrive as houseplants because of their relatively low lighting requirements. Unlike Desert Cacti, Epiphytic Cacti should be kept damp, but not soaking wet. Allowing them to dry slightly between waterings is also acceptable.



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