Orchid Cactus ( Epiphyllum oxypetallum ) aka Night blooming cactus

And a spineless cactus she is! This cactus will grow to as tall as 3′ and have 2′ long branches that produce stems and flowers. Although the flat stems look like leaves they are not leaves.

This is the most popular of the houseplants I put outside each summer, I’ve given away cuttings to probably all 100+ houses in the neighborhood.

This can grow as a hanging plant, lots of sun, more water than most cactus, it’s a tropical cactus. I water it about as much as a typical house plant. It can be grown in less than full sun but will bloom more in full sun.

I’ve also seen them upright. Put a thick stake in the middle, with some horizontal pieces at the top. Train the young shoots to grow up the stake and let the branches grow across then fall off the horizontal pieces. It’ll look like an umbrella.

These plants can be mounted and grown with just a small amount of moss around the roots.

Keep the temperature above 40’F. If the temperatures are going below 40’F I take several cuttings and start them inside to put back out in the spring.

If you are having trouble getting yours to bloom try to place it some where a bit chilly for a couple of weeks. Perhaps in a garage or basement near a window or door so it still receives light. Do not let it freeze! Chilly – not cold is what you want.

The flower is heavily scented, opens at night and lasts only one evening.

I’m told they are addictive and looking at the pictures at the link above and below I can see why. If you look online you can find several cuttings for sale cheap with flowers from white to yellow to pinks and reds

String of Pearls ( Asteraceae Senecio rowleyanus)

This is the first String of Pearls I’ve owned in a very long time. The flowers caught my eye, it’s the first one I’d seen in flower. Flowering takes place in the winter. The flowers have a sweet cinnamon scent.

This makes a great house plant despite liking lots of light. The brighter the window the better, mine is in direct afternoon sun and very happy. When the light is right the plant will flower in the winter and the pearls will be close together on the strand, too little light and you’ll see larger gaps between the pearls (leaves).

They are a succulent so be careful not to over water them, especially in the winter months. Treat it as you would a cactus only watering it when the top of the soil is very dry.

It is fairly hardy temperature wise and can handle temperatures occasionally down to 10’F, far lower than any indoor location is likely to get.

Every part of this plant is toxic.

It is a vine, so it is easy to make plants to share, just snip off a bit of a strand, remove pearls so that three or more nodes can be placed in soil and keep moist until it roots. Because it is a succulent let the cuttings dry over night before planting.

The strings will grow 2′-3′ easily and if happy 6′-8′, a bit of trimming will keep the plant lush and prevent it from getting too stringy.

This plant does well in a cactus potting mix.

Native to South Africa

Asteraceae is the sunflower/aster family of plants

Hens and chicks (Sempervivum)

Sempervivum originated in Europe and western Asia. In Rome they were planted on the roofs of homes. It was believed they would prevent witches from landing on your roof. Today they are gaining popularity in water wise gardens.

Leaves are small to conserve water, flowers can be quite showy to attract pollinators.

Plant in full sun.

Plant in well drained sandy soil.

In time these will have pink, yellow or white star shaped flowers. After flowering the rosette will die but babies will come up from the ground where the rosette was located.

There are over 40 different varieties.

Note: Did not survive the 3 months of 100’F and no rain of the summer of 2011

Stonecrop ( Sedum stonecrop )

There are over 400 species of sedum. These are succulent perennials and annuals and I purchased them as filler in the water wise bee and butterfly garden. They work best as borders or between stones. They do not do so well as a ground cover for a large area.

Rapid growers 3″-8″ tall, prune after flowering to keep them from getting leggy.

Full sun to light shade.

Good soil, well drained, they will rot if left sitting in water.

Propagate from seed or cuttings.

Stem and root root – leaves and stems darken and shrivel, leaves drop, lower stems may be covered in white strands which develop brown pellets. Cause is wet soil, improve drainage.

Did not survive the extreme heat and drought of the summer of 2011

Bric brac vine aka zigzag cactus (Cryptocereus anthonyanus )

I picked this up a year ago May at Smith and Hawkins. It is a fast grower and sold often as a hanging plant. It grew, and it grew and was too large to bring inside come winter so I left it to fend for itself. It survived the winter.

Then on the garden club garden tour I saw one potted up and growing up a trellis. How cool thought I. So I cut a branch off the monstrosity and planted it near the front door. As you can see it’s already growing strong a couple of months later. It also found the garage wall and has started its climb. I’m hoping it’ll cover a good portion of the wall before long.

I’ve had this in full sun and just afternoon sun. It’s thrived in both locations. I’ve totally ignored it in the winter and forgot to water it, still it grew.

It will survive a mild Houston winter, it did not survive the several hard frosts we had last winter. 40’F is the lowest suggested temperatures.

It is rumored to flower, I’ve yet to see one. Flowers will open only at night, for one night, and are very fragrant.

It is an epiphytic plant, you can grow it in soil or in orchid bark, use which ever pleases you. In its natural habitat it grows on trees with aerial roots. I haven’t tried that yet.

It can be trained up something or allowed to hang down something, which ever pleases you.

Propagation is easy, cut off about 4″ of a branch and stick in in some dirt.

So far I’ve not had a single problem with this plant, except that it stubbornly refuses to bloom inside or out. It’s a great climber for a cactus garden.


It is a fast grower and should fill this basket in no time. One branch broke off and we have it rooting in another pot. To propagate, take a small piece of stem, place it in soil, keep moist until you see new growth.

This plant loves light, put it in your brightest window. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.