How to Plant and Care for Fern Leaf Cactus

How to Plant and Care for Fern Leaf Cactus

The fern leaf cactus, also known as the fern leaf orchid cactus or the Selenicereus chrysocardium, is an epiphytic jungle cactus native to Mexico. It is also known as the “fern leaf orchid cactus.” The “leaves” (which are really stems) grow up and out of the pot, cascading down over the edge and providing a magnificent aesthetic effect.

It is a fast-growing plant (much like my ric racs), and it has the potential to grow to be quite large. Several feeds apart, to be exact. In fact, because of its amazing breadth, it was difficult for me to get a nice vertical shot of it. And it isn’t even a fully developed plant at this point.

A near relative of several of the other plants I’ve talked about, such as the night-blooming cereus, ric rac/fishbone cactus, and the curly orchid cactus, is the fern leaf cactus (also known as the fern leaf cactus). Can you tell that this sort of plant appeals to me?

Fern Leaf Cactus Care

The amount of light required by Fern Leaf Cactus

To begin, let’s discuss fern leaf cactus care and illumination. When growing outdoors, bright indirect light is preferred, but the fern-leaf cactus may tolerate dappled direct sunshine and shade under certain conditions. Indoors, I want to grow mine in our bedroom under grow lights, next to one of my ric-rac cactuses, which I already have.

I have it on my covered patio, which is perfect for the summer. However, since it is located on the edge of the patio and receives some direct sunlight, I keep it under a table. The tips of the leaves, on the other hand, have a little golden tint to them.

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Fern Leaf Cactus Growing guides

I’m not sure whether this is due to the fact that it is fresh, lighter growth that hasn’t darkened yet, or if it is due to the fact that it is receiving too much sunlight. For the most part, the plant seems content, so I’ll probably leave it alone till September to do its thing as it pleases me.

Giving this plant too much direct sunlight, on the other hand, is a no-no. Remember that this is a jungle cactus, which means that in its natural habitat, it is likely to be growing beneath a deep canopy that prevents it from receiving much sunlight.

Water and soil requirements

Despite the fact that it is a jungle cactus, it is still considered a cactus. To put it another way, you should wait until the soil is fully dry before watering the plant again. Outside, I pretty much let nature take care of itself. In the winter, I’ll water it at the same time I water my ric racs, which is around once a month.

Fern Leaf Cactus Growing indoor

One technique to prevent overwatering your fern-leaf cactus is to provide it with the right soil conditions. Mine is growing in a succulent soil mixture. If you’re using a typical indoor potting mix, add an additional handful of perlite to aid with drainage if necessary.

Make certain that it is potted with a plant with a drainage hole in order to prevent overwatering. It’s true that I have a guide on how to plant succulents and cacti in pots without drainage holes, but it’s not the recommended method of growing these plants. For this tropical gent, it’s either drainage or bust.

Fern Leaf Cactus Plant

The fern leaf cactus fertilizer requirements

I’ve talked in the past about using diluted houseplant fertilizer for my plants, but this year I’ve opted to forego that approach and instead use worm castings to fertilize them. In addition, I repot the majority of my plants in the spring of each year with new soil, and that soil generally contains slow-release fertilizer to start the season off well.

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Adding worm castings to your soil is a fantastic idea since they are loaded with minerals and helpful microorganisms. They also contribute to the improvement of the soil’s condition and the preservation of its health. When repotting, I just sprinkle a handful of it into the soil mixture. We’ll see how things turn out this season.

Fern Leaf Cactus treatment

Temperature and humidity requirements

If you live in USDA zones 10 or 11, your fern-leaf cactus will most likely be able to be grown outdoors all year round. I’m a long way from those climate zones, so I’ll have to move my houseplants indoors in the autumn. It is not cold-hardy and will succumb to the elements.

The only time I put my houseplants outside is when the nighttime temperature is regularly 55 degrees or above. Afterwards, when the temperatures begin to drop again in the autumn, it’s time to go back inside.

As a jungle cactus, this plant thrives in high humidity, making it an excellent choice for summer gardening in a variety of climates. If you want to keep the plant inside, you may want to consider using a humidifier or misting it. If you’re in the mood to be lazy, it is quite tolerant of average home humidity levels, which is ideal.

How to care for Fern Leaf Cactus

How to grow fern leaf cactus from a cutting

Selenicereus chrysocardium is a very simple plant to grow from seed. You may reproduce it by taking stem cuttings, which is similar to how you would propagate other succulents or cacti. If you want to watch root growth, I recommend roots in moist sphagnum moss and perlite or water rather than straight in soil, where you can’t see much.

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Instead of going through all of the trouble of propagating the fern leaf cactus and other plants like it (such as the ric rac, curtly orchid, and night-blooming cereus), you may just put your cutting straight into the soil. To plant it, I’d wait a day or two for the cut end to callus over before doing so.

Without waiting for the cut end to callus over, you run the danger of too much moisture going into the cutting, which may result in rotting of the cutting. Similarly, propagating succulents, prickly pear cactus pads, and rooting snake plant cuttings are all methods of propagation. However, I’ll admit that I’m generally impatient and will simply go ahead and plant right away, taking the risk.

In order to propagate cuttings of Selenicereus chrysocardium, the following procedures must be followed:

  • Take a cutting that is at least 6 inches in length to start with. Alternatively, you may just select a naturally occurring area on the plant to cut. In this case, the precise duration isn’t very significant.
  • Allowing the cutting callus to heal for approximately a day can assist in avoiding rotting of the wound.
  • Plant in a succulent soil that drains well while remaining moist and humid to promote root growth.Tug at the wound to determine whether or not roots have grown after many weeks.
  • Additionally, you may opt to dip the cut end of your cutting in rooting hormone before planting it to help jump start the growth cycle. It’s also important to grow this plant in the spring or summer, when the weather is pleasant and warm.