How to Propagate Epiphyllum
Epiphyllum, or orchid cacti, are propagated using leaf clippings. You can purchase epiphyllum leaf cuttings or make them yourself by cutting a healthy leaf from your favorite epiphyllum plant. The succulent leaves should be healthy and thick, and not wrinkly as this is a sign of overwatering. It isn’t difficult to propagate epiphyllum, but there are tricks to it, and a few things you should know before attempting it for the first time yourself.
Step 1 – Prepare Cuttings
Your cuttings should be about 4 inches long, but shorter will do in a pinch. Because orchid cacti are succulent plants, you have to help them develop callouses on the cut ends so they don’t rot when you plant them. What will happen before rot occurs is that gravity will pull the nutrients stored in the leaf down into the dirt, leaving the leaf vulnerable to disease and rot, as well as giving the leaf a hard time pulling up any rooting hormone or nutrients in the soil.
So instead of rushing it, place your cuttings in a cool, dry place for 1 to 2 weeks or until a callous develops on the cut end. Once the callouses are there, the cuttings are ready to plant for propagation.
Step 2 – Prepare Pots
Now you have to get your pots ready. Make half-and-half mix of your cactus mix and potting soil. If you want to take the soil a step further, you can use African violet mix instead of potting soil. Put the combined soils into the terra cotta pots, filling them about ¾ the way up. If you want added drainage you can add oak bark or perlite but this isn’t necessary. The important thing is that the soil is well-drained.
Step 3 – Plant Cuttings
As your pots are ready to take cuttings, you can add your plant cuttings to your soil. Dip the calloused end of your cutting quickly into rooting hormone, and then stick the cuttings into the soil about 1 inch down. Now use your planting stick and push it down into the soil next to the cutting, and use a piece of string to tie it up loosely to the stick to keep it upright.
Don’t water the cutting! Put that water down, right now. You should withhold water for the first week that the cutting is in the soil, because this will force the cutting to start rooting for nourishment. After that week, water very gingerly, so as not to knock the cutting over. It might be a good idea to mist the soil with a spray bottle rather than to just pour water into the soil, because it won’t cause such a disturbance to the cutting.
Within a few weeks, you should have a rooted, fully-propagated epiphyllum cutting, ready for transplantation. Enjoy your new orchid cacti, and the blooms they’ll make for you in the future.