Orchid cactus never blooms

bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)December 19, 2013

I have an orchid cactus that's over five years old. It grows like a weed but never blooms. It's in bright light in an unheated sun room. I don't water starting mid-autumn. The rest of the year it's fed and watered well and is very healthy. My Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti are right nearby and get similar treatment and they bloom every year no problem. If it doesn't bloom this year, it's headed for the trash heap! It's supposed to have a gorgeous reddish flower. It's an Epiphyllum hybrid called "Unforgettable", but I think this one will be easy to forget once I throw it away. What a waste of time and money! i think growers and sellers of these things should be honest and tell people that they will only bloom under perfect greenhouse conditions instead of ripping us off. Opinions?

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You might need a twelve hour day of light. In my time zone that happens in July.
You can try artificial lights to coax it, but I'm unsure if that will work or not, I have also heard of people denying the plant of light for a short period of time. Then putting the plant back to its normal place it resides. I think the latter seems sort of cruel to do, so I would personally have a hard time trying that.
Good luck, hope others post too.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 1:03AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Some need a no nitrogen fertilizer once a month at 1/4 dilution in winter and in a unlit room with good natural light. I have heard that nighttime lights gets it off its natural light dark cycle and impedes bud formation. I don't know if this is true.They say this is important in late winter early spring. In spring and summer, I then fertilize with a more balanced fertilizer at 1/4 - 1/2 dilution every other watering. It is outside in the summer under an oak tree.

Some orchid cactus have a big bloom flush in the spring so they need to form their buds jun the winter , thus the need for some fertilizer in the winter. They do like fertilizer. not strong fertilizer but they like it.

What soil is it in?

This post was edited by wantonamara on Fri, Dec 20, 13 at 14:04

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:02AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

A loose, friable soil, lots of organics, same as my Christmas cactus. I know that the Christmas cactus are also sensitive to artificial light, and that it can impede bud formation, but the orchid cactus is right next to it on a plant shelf, so since the Christmas cactus blooms, I am guessing the light isn't a problem.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 1:58PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Bill -- have you tried the Epi forum?

I don't know about the water withholding, could that be the problem? You said you withhold water staring mid-autumn (you didn't say 'til when, I bet that's what's wrong). I doubt that plants can set bloom while water is being withheld.

For Xmas cactus & TC, the recommendation to withhold water is for AFTER the bloom period, not before.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 2:51PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Thanks. I don't see and Epi forum here. Do you know of one somewhere on the web?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 11:37AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi again,

I had thought Epi Forum was on GW. Perhaps it's been dscontinued? I really don't know; maybe post same question at Houseplants or Container Forums in case anyone there knows? Hope you find 'em.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 1:03PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

There is a place called EpiForums with a couple thousand members. They are are closed to lurking so you have to join to see the posts. I am not a member but know of its existence. Dec. 19th is the last thread so it seems active.

Here is a link that might be useful: EpiForums

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 3:15PM
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I have had one for 7yrs and no bloom yet. The lady I traded told me what it was and said it only blooms every couple of years at night but I've had trouble with my memory since so I'm trying to figure it out to how could u throw itAWAY it has stuck with u all this time. It's our fault they aren't blooming we have to figure what they need.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 6:08PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

BB81, it's easy to throw it away. You take it to the trash can and drop it in. I can't waste time on non-productive plants. I enjoy gardening for the rewards of beautiful flowers or foliage, and the plants are to give me some pleasure. This one isn't doing that. It certainly doesn't have gorgeous foliage or striking form. It's only saving grace would have been the flowers, so without them, it's pointless to have it. There are so many other plants that respond to my care with gorgeous leaves such as my Maranta, interesting form like my Oxalis with triangular leaves and year-round flowers, my Meyer lemon with fragrant blooms and fruit every year, Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise) with the gorgeous tropical blooms, and so many more. So why keep something that still requires the same care as others, but gives nothing in return? I garden for pleasure and this thing provides none.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 6:34PM
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Bill , I have several orchid cactus and mine bloom every year,but I'm in S.Calif and mine live outside year round.I don't baby them at all in fact they thrive on neglect,at least mine do.

Let me see if I can find some pics for you.Here they are and it looks like you and I had this discussion before.


What state do you live in??

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 8:14PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I live in Rhode Island.

Anyway, I've pretty much decided to trash this plant. I'll leave it until spring, when I bring my houseplants out for summer. Or maybe I'll put it out for the summer and see what happens, but l won't bother to bring it back indoors for the winter with my other houseplants. I want plants that give me some pleasure or reward for my efforts, there are so many that perform well for me, but this thing does nothing for me. Why wasted my time and effort? But thanks for the information. BTW, I had sent info in that other thread about the yellow ones. Did you ever find them?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 9:52AM
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No I never did find a yellow one,truth is I kinda forgot about it.
I agree though with wasting your time on things that don't bloom like you think they should.I had that experience with the rick rack cactus.I babied that sucker for years,talked to it,sang to it cursed at it and threatened it.Then when it did bloom,i didn't like it much,so I just gave or threw it away.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 8:42PM
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Bill - check out this website: http://www.epiforums.com/
I have been a member for several years. The people on here are very knowledgable about epies. Perhaps there is someone on either Gardenweb or Epiforums that would be willing to trade you for a plant you might enjoy more rather than your trashing it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Patty zone 5

Hi Bill,
I live further north than you do and have a red epi that will bloom when I put it outside for the spring and summer. It is in a hanging pot under a tree canopy that provides dappled shade (honey locust tree).
Try that before you toss it if you haven't already had it outside for the summer.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 1:31PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Thanks Fleurkat and Patty. I'll try both suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 6:53AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Fleurkat, I checked out the epiforum.com, but there are no posts nor news, etc. I don't think it's active at all. But thanks!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 10:54AM
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Hello....I'm wanting to get some orchid cactus straps to start a new plant. I had a nice one (it even bloomed), given to me by a (now deceased) dear friend. It died when we moved from Kansas. If anyone has some to share, I'd be glad to pay. Thank you for your consideration......Carol

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:46AM
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FYI if is doesn't work out and you do end up getting rid of it:

Here is a link that might be useful: Looking for epiphytic cacti

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:49AM
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