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How To Grow and Care For Disocactus phyllanthoides (German Empress)

Scientific Name

Disocactus phyllanthoides (DC.) Barthlott

Common Names

German Empress, Giant Empress, Pond Lily Cactus


Cactus phyllanthoides (basionym), Cereus phyllanthoides, Epiphyllum phyllanthoides, Nopalxochia phyllanthoides, Phyllocactus phyllanthoides

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Hylocereeae
Genus: Disocactus


Color: Pink
Bloom Time: Mid spring


Disocactus phyllanthoides is an easy to grow jungle cactus with green or reddish stems, up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long or more, branching, primary stems up to 16 inches (40 cm) long, 0.2 inch (6 mm) thick, woody at base, flattened at apex. The secondary stems are flat, lanceolate, acute with coarsely scalloped margins, toothed, up to 12 inches (30 cm) long and up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide. The flowers are funnel-shaped, pink in color, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and up to 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide. The fruits are ellipsoid, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long with low ribs, green at first, later red.

How to Grow and Care

Disocactus should be grown in a rich but still well draining soil. They should be watered regularly and fertilized as well. This is essential for good growth and flowering. Keep relatively dry in winter or when night temperatures remain below 10° C. Disocactus dislike extreme heat and cold, so they are best green-housed during the depth of winter and heat of summer in hot dry climates such as mine. They also prefer shade to sun, and like a little extra humidity in the air. Flowering in spring and summer the flower color varies from white, yellow red or purple depending on species.


Native to Mexico (Hidalgo, Oaxaca).

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