May Orchid CactusSingle Red
Epiphytic Orchid Cactus #1


The first orchid cactus flower shown is born on a specimen over four feet tall if the fountaining succulent leaves were held straight up, & it would be twice that width if a long leaf was lifted up from each side & held horizontally. The pot is almost too heavy to move.

I acquired my love of Orchic Cacti from my great-grandmother & I have a handful of them in remembrance of her. She called hers "June Cactuses" & "May Cactuses" based on their bloom times, but she otherwise obtained & traded starts of unnamed old varieties. I seem to have inherited her habit.

The long scalloped leaves have indentations & it is in these that blooms appear only once at each dent. A leaf will not bloom again once every dent has produced a flower. This huge specimen bloomed with extreme fervor in 2001, using up the majority of its dents — dozens of enormous flowers, jaw-dropping amazing, though they had the odor of mothballs which one doesn't notice if there are only a few blooms.

I knew it would not do so many flowers the following year, & indeed it produced only a few for May 2002. But unlike the year before, it broke from its usual habit of blooming only once, & when it was done in May it produced one more unexpected blossom in June, & as soon as that one was worn out, it produced one more for July! In the years since, it has always had a primary bloom-time in May, & a random bloom or two through the eight weeks after.

Ideally one cuts off the bloomed-out leaves & uses them to start new pots of the same orchid cactus. Two or three removed leaves can be potted together to start a new substantial plant; the new leaves it produces will bloom when two years old.

But I loved the height & shape of this parent so much, I couldn't bear to remove the leaves, which will live indefinitely even if not blooming. It produces new leaves each year so that it does always have a few leaves that will flower. Eventually it has too many leaves for one plant & then it's easier to clip a few of the old ones out to start a fresh pot, but I continue to prefer the parent plant foremost.

Continue to
Second Orchid Cactus


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