I was recently at Red Butte Garden, my local botanical garden. I was bowled over by a flower I’d never seen before. It was part of the collection of cactus and succulents in the main building which cascade down one wall of the main staircase. The flowers were 7 to 8″ across, and truly spectacular. I managed to locate a plant tag on one of them, which identified it as a Epiphyllum “Purple Haze”.
This was my first encounter with an epiphyllum (ep-eh-FILL-um, not ep-eh-FILE-um) before, so I had to look it up. Apparently this is what is considered hybrid epiphyllum, rather than the true species. At any rate, it’s an epiphytic cactus originating in Central America. It sort of reminds me of a Christmas Cactus on steroids.
I emailed the horticulturist at Red Butte to see if she could tell me where I could purchase a plant, or if they might have any cuttings available. I didn’t hear back for a few days, and in the meantime, had no luck finding anything locally. One place did have some epiphyllums, but a different variety (not in bloom or bud, and with no indication of what the flowers look like), and they were quite expensive. I was able to find only one place online that had cuttings of ”Purple Haze”, but I knew fresh cuttings would take a couple of years to produce blooms. I also wasn’t sure about ordering from that specific company.
Instead, I ended up ordering two plants which are a 4″ potted plant size (but will be shipped bare root). One is Diego Rivera, an eye-popping red/orange/pink flower, and the other is Shirley Aline, which is pink/salmon/orange.
A few days later, I got an email back from Red Butte Garden. Their plants were a donation, so they couldn’t give me a source other than the one place I found online, which they said they’d never ordered from. But she said they might have some potted cuttings, and said she’d have someone follow up with me on it. Sure enough, I got another email the next day, telling me that they had 2 plants in 6″ pots, both in bud. And cheap! I could get both plants for less than it would cost me to order just a single cutting online. She said she’d even throw in some fresh cuttings from a yellow one that was also a donation – it’s the first year it has bloomed, and she said it’s gorgeous.
So of course, I ran up there and bought them. Heaven knows what I’ll do with all of these plants, because they’re big. And will get even bigger. Here’s what I came home with – they’re bigger than they look – about half of each plant is not shown in the photo. It’s a foot from the bottom of the pot to the top of the flower, and that flower is 7″ across.
Here’s another photo of the plant on the right, with a yardstick for scale. It’s about 2 feet tall from the ground:
The buds make me think of pods from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. (The 1956 movie, or the book. Don’t even mention that awful Donald Sutherland version to me.)
Or “The Little Shop of Horrors”. I almost expect the bud to rise up and say “Feed me, Seymour!” And so, I have named one of the plants Audrey. And the other, of course, will be Jimi. A little “Purple Haze“, anyone?