Epiphyllum anguliger

Family: Cactaceae

Countries: Americas, Mexico, North America

Epiphyllum anguliger is quite an extraordinary looking cactus!  This plant is also known as the Fishbone Cactus, the Rick Rack Cactus, and the Zig Zag Cactus, due to their absolutely marvellous leaves that display a mesmerisingly wavy, zig zag form.  I adore them!

It’s not only this plant’s leaves that are unusual.  Epiphyllum anguliger plants are epiphytic.  Rather than growing in the soil, or in the sand – which is where we think of most cacti growing, these epiphytic cacti grow at the top of trees, in the deciduous tropical forests of Mexico.  They’re not parasitic plants – Epiphyllum anguliger plants don’t take any sustenance from the plants they grow upon; they simply use their host plant to gain a better position in the forest.  Their host trees raise the plants up, which creates improved air circulation around the plants and their roots.

Although Epiphyllum anguliger plants grow as epiphytes in the wild, in cultivation these cacti are usually grown as potted plants.  If you’re potting up a Epiphyllum anguliger plant you’ll need a gritty, free draining, peat-free compost.  To make your own growing media, blend a mix of sharp sand, grit, and sterilised loam or potting compost (aim for around 65-75% grit and sand and the rest loam and peat-free potting compost), or purchase a speciality cactus compost if you prefer.  Choose a container with a hole at the bottom for drainage.  Select a pot that’s not too big – it’s better to slightly under-pot this cactus, than to over-pot it.  Next, find a piece of broken pot to cover the drainage hole, to make sure your compost doesn’t wash out of the bottom of your planter.  Ensure that your compost mix is open, loose, and free draining, so that water runs straight through the compost, over your Epiphyllum anguliger plant’s roots and out the bottom of your plant’s pot – you don’t want any water to sit in the bottom of your plant’s pot.

These are tender plants – their minimum night-time temperature is around 10C (50F).  Epiphyllum anguliger grow very well as houseplants, they thrive in a humid environment, so these plants do well when they’re grouped with other plants.  They also enjoy being misted or grown on a tray of pebbles, that’s topped up with water to raise humidity levels.  Avoid growing Epiphyllum anguliger above a radiator or near an open fire, stove, oven, or heater, as these products dry the air.  Epiphyllum anguliger flourish in a warm humid environment, in a location that enjoys bright, indirect light.

I’m afraid that this is another plant that flourishes in the illusive conditions of bright but indirect light.  What does that mean?  You’re looking for a location that’s neither too bright nor too dark.  If your home is very light and bright, Epiphyllum anguliger plants will flourish in an area away from harsh or direct light; so you’re looking for an area that offers light and bright conditions with soft lighting.  Avoid a location that’s lit up by afternoon sunshine, as the sun is more intense in the afternoon.  Whereas if your home is very dark and shaded, your Epiphyllum anguliger plant will be happy near an East facing windowsill or on a partly shaded windowsill.  Brighter light helps to encourage the plants to flower, but too intense a light will scorch this plant’s beautiful leaves.

When you’re watering your Epiphyllum anguliger plant, allow your plant’s compost to dry out before you water your plant again.  These plants do not want to sit in water, but they do appreciate a light mist of rainwater, deionised water, or reverse osmosis water, which will raise the humidity levels around the plant.

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