Pfeiffera bolivianum - Coypright: Pilea Plant Shop
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We'd recommend situating your Lepismium in a location that offers a good amount of indirect light. Although a splash of direct sun won't hurt the plant too much, you can easily fall in the trap of sun-scorch with those not acclimated to the harsh rays. A location within three metres of a north, east or west-facing window, or below a skylight window is ideal. If yours is seated in a relatively shady area of the house, be sure to dust the foliage regularly and keep the soil on the dry side to counteract root rot.
Always allow the top half of the soil dry out in between irrigations, reducing this further in the autumn and winter. It's always better to under-water a Lepismium than over-do it due to the tendency of basal rot. Over-watering symptoms include yellowing older leaves that soon drop off, mouldy soil, little to no growth and shrivelling foliage. These are common with too much soil moisture, an improper soil medium or too low light -scroll down to 'Common Issues' for more information. Under-watering symptoms, on the other hand, include little to no new growth, a much-needed transplant and drying or shrivelling leaves.
Average room humidity is enough to occupy Lepismium; however, as the heaters begin to be switched back on, introduce a pebble tray to counteract the risk of dry air.
Supplement monthly using a 'Houseplant' or 'Cactus' labelled fertiliser. Providing too nutritious soil will result in leggy growth in the summer, along with chemical root burn.
Whilst the plant is budding or in bloom, swap for a potassium-based feed, for example, tomato food, to prolong the flowering process in the late spring. Never directly apply an RTU (ready to use) feed without a pre-water first, as this will result in root burn and yellowed leaves.
Mould or mushrooms developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of 'Cactus & Succulent' compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.
Root rot is a big issue with symptoms including yellow lower leaves, stunted or softened growth - often accompanied by stem collapse. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect its root systems. Yellow roots translate to good health, however, brown and mushy sections with soggy soil is the result of over-watering. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.
A brown, rotten base is also another byproduct of over-watering. If the majority of the trunk has rotted over, stem cuttings must be taken to save the remaining section of the plant. Scroll down to ‘Propagation’ for more information!
Too much sunlight will cause a red tinge to the foliage. Although Lepismium are best grown in locations offering just a few hours of sun, prolonged periods on non-acclimated specimens will lead to sun-scorch. If yours is a newly-purchased plant, build its tolerance to the sharp rays by increasing the amount of receivable light per week by an hour.
A lack of flowers is caused by immaturity or an insufficient dormancy period served in the winter months. Specimens will only flower once they reach maturity - which can take in the region of three to six years from a leaf cutting. Also, locations that offer near-similar temperatures all year round won't allow the plant to go dormant, resulting in poor spring growth. To achieve bud development, situate in a location that offers nighttime temperatures of around 12°C (54°F) with fewer waters. The combination of both cooler temperatures and dry soil during the colder months will help season the plant, thus leading to a better chance of flowers in the future.
The true name of Lepismium bolivianum is Pfeiffera bolivianum, penned initially by Britton & Rose in the early 20th century. It was then transferred into the latter genus by D.R. Hunt around a hundred years later, honouring German botanist, Ludwig Pfeiffer. Lepismium comes from the Greek word for 'scale' which refers to the scale-like portion below the areole.
10° - 26°C (50° - 78°F)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃ (54℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
Up to 1m in vine length and 30cm in width, with maturity taking up to eight years.
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean utensils or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via seed or leaf/stem cuttings. To learn about the essentials with sowing seeds, be sure to click on this link - Seed Propagation Tips.
Lepismium will flower once matured in the summer with rosette-shaped blooms, sporting either pink or white appearances. Each flower will take several days to develop along the phylloclades, lasting up to a week once opened. They'll produce slightly toxic berries if pollination is successful.
Repot every two years in spring using a 'Cactus' labelled potting mix and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Lepismium are far better potbound for several years due to the heightened risk of root rot and repotting-issues (like transplant shock), so only repot if you feel it's wholly necessary - restricted root growth will also increase the chance of blooms, too.
Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those situated in a darker location, introduce an extra amount of perlite and grit into the deeper portion of the pot to downplay over-watering risks. Click on this link for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.
Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!
Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, whitefly, scale & vine weevils. Typical diseases associated with Lepismium are root or leaf rot, leaf-spot disease & powdery mildew. For more information on how to address any of these issues, click on this link - Identifying Common Houseplant Diseases
Lepismium are classified as non-poisonous. If large quantities of the plant are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur.
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