Advanced Growers Blooming and Growing Page
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Epis have some basic principles to make them bloom, I listed them below.
1) BIG ENOUGH TO BLOOM -They need to be big enough to bloom,so you can easily know if your plant is ready i have examples below pictured of 3 Epis at different growth stages from cuttings. A 1 year old (FAR LEFT), 2-3yrs (MIDDLE PLANT) and a large plant 3-4 yrs from a cuttings (FAR RIGHT). The one on the far left is not ready to bloom-too small. The middle one might bloom with high doses of bloom fertilizer, but the energy it takes to bloom may leave it depleted and it might not recover well if at all after blooming. The Large plant far right is ready to bloom but it might need a little encouragement. So below i give details of what you need to do for that encouragement to make it bloom. I guarantee if your plant is as big as the plant pictured far right and you follow these directions in fertilizer dosages and time/schedule in the season it will bloom.
2) ROOTBOUND -The Epi at the right in the picture has several plants of the same variety in the container to give it cramped roots. Adding bone-meal in your soil mix will help develop a expansive root system like this on has.
3) BRIGHT LIGHT -Epis can grow great in 50 percent shade or even more but itís not enough to make them bloom. The edge of the patio cover where a little full sun for an hour or two will make most bloom or 30 percent shade.
4) HARDENING OFF -Hardening off is when the second year stems are sort of thick skinned and not tender like new first year growth, having them outside on winter evenings in a frost free area helps with this. Not absolute necessity but it can help for blooms, at least 2nd year growth and older is required.
5) BLOOM FERTILIZER -This is the most important along with bright light and if applied correctly will make almost all bloom, just be sure there ready. I will discuss this in the most detail of all 6 below, focusing on pushing blooms.
6) NOT TOO MUCH WATER AS BUDS DEVELOP -Be careful not to over water once buds develop, this will cause them to drop and fall off, also donít move the plants with buds to another location with less light, that too will cause bud drop.
For plants that are smaller than the one on the far right stay with (0-10-10)or close a equivalent as mentioned on the Main Epi Growing page, as there not ready yet for pushing with higher formulas yet.
EPI MYTH OF MOVING PLANTS WILL MAKE THE BUDS FALL OFF.Well thats only half true. Sure if you move them and brush against something,sure the buds could be knocked off, or if you move it to a location with less light or allot of direct sun its unacustomed too. But should you carefully move a plant to a location with simular light intensity it will be fine. Some buds will fall off, but it will do that even if you did not move it.It takes allot of energy to make just one bloom and if theres several on one stem the plant will shed some it feels it cannot support. Its normal and nothing to worry about. Of coarse why move them. Sometimes if there in the way of a project going, a move to another house, cleaning or whatever you might need too. Temporarily moving a blooming sized plant, then putting it back in the same spot turned of coarse with the same face out towards the light it previously, had wont hurt it at all.
This picture above shows from left a one year old from cuttings, 2 year old in middle (could bloom but i dont want it too,not ready), 4 year old thats mature far right, i also have a close up below of the buds if you scroll down.
BLOOM FERTILIZER/PUSHING BLOOMS-HIGH FORMULA -comes in many forms granular and liquid or (water-soluble/foliar) this is the best type to use along with a pump sprayer. The brand of fertilizer you use matters little only the 3 numbers you see on every fertilizers label. The numbers stand for this in order (thereís an example of one type of formula is below)
5-50-17 The first number 5 is nitrogen you want this zero or very low, under 10 best. The plant will get all the nitrogen it needs from the soil mix you gave it so itís not really needed at this time. The second number 50 is phosphorous you want this high or over 20. The last number is potassium this can be under 20. So the middle number is what you want high. What do this numbers mean? There just the percentage of each macro nutrient 5% nitrogen, 50% phosphorous and 17 % potassium. Thatís a total of 72%. Whatís the other 28%? Well if its liquid probably just water. If its granular maybe gypsum which is inert like caulk, itís in the drywalls of your house. It doesnít matter really but the higher the numbers the more your getting for the volume versus cost of the product. These formulas will all push blooms.
5-50-17, 11-54-4, 6-40-10 etc. Now that we have the right kind of fertilizer in mind lets move on to when to apply so you can get some blooms like this! .
AL BUSTAN PICTURED BLOOMING ABOVE IN MAY 09
WHEN TO APPLY BLOOM FERTILIZER -Remember in the main growing page how semi-dormancy was mentioned. Epis donít grow much Nov. to almost end of Feb. until spring arrives, but beggining in mid to end of January while still semi-dormant and following each fertilizers suggested mix rates with water, apply bloom fertilizer mentioned above in 10 days to 2 week intervals. The plants on the first three or four applications might not show any signs of buds, but to get buds you have to gradually build that second number up in the plant. If you follow this schedule in January up to mid or end of March you will notice several buds develop. Lightly water in the fertilizer after each application,rinse it off the stems no heavy watering of the soil mix unless very dry. Continue applying as buds develop and stop once the buds open around mid April to June. Each variety starts buds and bloom at slightly different times, some are early some late. A few are off-season bloomers and could bloom in December but theres not many of those. Once buds do appear and are semi-developed be careful not to water too much this will cause many of the buds to drop or fall off.In fact if its overcast dont water, wait until its sunny enough for any residual moisture or water on the buds and stems to evaporate quikly. What tends to happen when the buds get soaked is they get mushy then bacteria sets in and the plant just lets it fall off. Remember the buds are big and theres many large moisture filled petals in there already extra moisture is not needed.
Keep in mind the formulas I mentioned above are very high so after blooming repot each plant soon after to replenish the huge amount of energy it takes to produce the very large and vividly colored blooms.
Below is a close up of a few stems on the 4 yr old pictured above.Notice how buds tend to develop first on the tips and then work there way back towards the base of the stem, this plant should have its first bloom open by mid to late April and its last in the last week of June. After blooming it will be repotted.
More Advanced Epiphyllum Growing Pages
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Notes; I will add more links to advanced growers pages/info here in the future and discuss micro nutrients in detail as there very important especially before and after blooming.