by Karen R. chaves
(West Melbourne, FL)
A friend living in Melbourne Beach, FL gave me a cutting from a plant growing in her yard.
It sprouts very unusual flowers from the edges of its leaves during the summer...the plant is currently about 2 feet tall, has a woody stem, and grows very slowly.
It started producing flowers a year ago...once they sprout from the leaf edges, the flowers grow very rapidly.
At their peak, they turn upward on their long stalk...last about a week, then fall off. Any ideas?
You bet, Karen - I know exactly what this is! These gorgeous flowers (and the not so gorgeous plants they sprout from) are Epiphyllum, or Orchid Cactus.
They thrive in warm climates, and originate high in the treetops in jungles, so hanging baskets in humid and sunny areas where they can be given dappled shade for the summer is their perfect situation.
The flowers are short lived, but so spectacular in all shades of pink, red and purple with frills, doubles and other forms being produced from seed all the time.
These are one of those plants that can really get their hooks in you, and become an extreme obsession.
I worked for a couple who owned a little seasonal greenhouse in Dawson Creek, B.C. They hybridized Epiphyllum for a year round hobby, and they ended up with thousands of different ones, and seeing them in bloom in the many greenhouses was really something to see.
You can see more about these interesting plants here.