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Friday, April 27, 2012

Epi Lady (Apr. 27, 2012)

Hello, I am an Epi lady. No, not the electronic hair removal device that debuted in the late 1980s, promising to remove body hair effortlessly and painlessly. (According to one teen-ager I knew then, there was nothing painless about it. Have you ever accidentally caught your hair in a hair dryer? Nothing painless about that pull, either.) So back to the Epi Lady: me. My new self-appointed nickname refers to my interest in Epiphyllum plants. They came into my consciousness about a year ago. I bought a few cuttings at a sale, and was given a few cuttings by a neighbor. For nearly a year I’ve watched, watered and waited. And now the epi blossoms are here!

Let me stop for just a second and give a little info about Epiphyllum plants. They are also known as the orchid cactus. Their blooms are gorgeous and big, and their leaves have the hardy quality seen in orchid leaves and succulents. Epiphyllum is a genus of epiphytic succulents native to Central America. They have broad, flat leaves and large flowers, which often bloom for only one day.

A few years ago I noticed plants hanging outside houses in my neighborhood. Their  unusual leaves caught my eye because I’d never seen leaves like that: long and bright green, with a scalloped or zigzag edge. Fascinating! But what were they? Could they be related to the succulents I love so much? Their firm, rubbery look suggested they might be. But without a name for them, I didn’t know how to find out more about them.

Then one day, I passed a house a few blocks from mine. I saw ten or twelve of this curious plant hanging in pots from the eaves of the roof. I decided to write the owner a note, asking whether I could speak to him/her about the plants. Don called a day later and said that he’d gotten my note and he’d love to talk with me about epis. He was a friendly man, eager to talk about his favorite plant, and I was just as eager to learn. Behind his gate was a plant paradise! There were hundreds of epis in hanging pots, many different varieties, and the blossoms were various colors. Don’s collection is amazing in its size, its display and because of his passion. This hobby of his started years ago when he inherited someone else’s epis. What has become a major love of epis started inadvertently. And it grew and grew.

Don was kind enough to give me some cuttings from some of his plants. He had labels on most of them and at home, I hung them up in a semi-sunny, mostly shady area. Over the last 11+ months I watched the leaves grow, and new ones form, and I wondered if this would be the year. Don had warned me that epis take a year or two to produce a flower, so I was not banking on seeing any this year. But a few weeks ago two buds popped out of a leaf. The buds seemed to grow daily and I wondered when I’d see their flowers.

Today I was putting coffee grounds on my plants and I looked up and WOW! There were two huge pink blossoms on the epi labeled “Padre.” I was so surprised. Although I knew May and June were their blooming months, I didn’t know how big the buds would get before opening or exactly when this would happen. They’re so pretty and I’m so happy to have them bloom this first year. Tomorrow I’ll stop by Don’s to let him know and to thank him again.   

Most people like flowers, although I realize that not everyone wants to spend their free time gardening. But it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I feel a lot of happiness experiencing the growth and blooming of plants and flowers. You participate in their growth because you nurture them with water and light and coffee grounds and your time and energy. When they bloom under your care, it’s rewarding. They thank you for your care with a prize of colorful blooms. It’s a win-win.

I’ll sign off now. This Epi Lady wants to go smile at her epis…

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