Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Orchid Cactus, Strap Cactus
Disocactus ackermannii

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Disocactus (dy-soh-KAK-tus) (Info)
Species: ackermannii (ak-er-MAN-ee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Epiphyllum ackermannii
Synonym:Phyllocactus weingartii
Synonym:Nopalxochia ackermanni
Synonym:Phyllocactus ackermanni
Synonym:Disocactus ackermannii var. ackermannii

One vendor has this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Cactus and Succulents

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 30 photos.
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9 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive B_bessii On Apr 23, 2012, B_bessii from Chico, CA wrote:

I obtained my current E. ackermannii from my high school home-room advisor, Dr. Kilburn, Watsonville High School, 1968. He and his neighbor, Mr. Menke maintained a large collection close to the beach at Rio Del Mar in Aptos, California. It is my understanding that Ackerman was a plant biologist and collector who found the species and brought them back with him to Germany where he did the first hybridizing of the New World tropical cactus. I would enjoy seeing a historical photographic record of both of the species used to produce E. ackermannii. That would be Disocactus achermannii and one other, as well as E. ackermannii. This may offer us a more definitive perspective for determining the true first hybrid, Epiphillum ackermannii.

Positive JBerger On Dec 14, 2011, JBerger from Wrightstown, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

I had a similiar orchid cactus willed to me by a woman who never labeled her plants. Unfortunately I am unable to give my old plant a true identification that I feel comfortable with when using it to advertise and sell this plant. For those people who come to me for the Disocactus ackermannii, I will say it could be, but I honestly don't know. I think it is better to admit you are not sure than to say positively it is what you merely think it is.

It is a wonderful, beautiful plant, and what does it matter to the plant lover what you call it as long as you are happy with it. A collector on the other hand could have a problem with that. Either way I recommend the plant to anyone. It is a joy to watch grow and a beauty when blooming.

Positive laurajs On Jul 14, 2010, laurajs from Troy, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

My mother has grown this plant for decades; the original was my grandmother's before that. The large, flat stems are covered with saucer-sized red blooms which last several days each, total blooming time is over a week, since her large plants have 20-40 blooms in various stages. She has started numerous plants from cuttings to give to friends and family.
She also has acquired two other varieties, one has large sunset-colored flowers, and the other has pink daffodil-shaped flowers which begin small and grow larger.
My mother has them on porches in the summer where they bloom; and brings them inside to the basement in the fall. By late spring, they have set buds, and she brings them up to the porch once again.
I had difficulty with mine setting buds until I read that they require temperatures under 55 degrees for at least a month. (I had assumed that light was the key like a Christmas cactus, but that did not work.) Old Pennsylvania farmhouses supplied 55 degree temps in the winter without even trying!
This winter, my plant got brown spots and scale. I guess I have not inherited the orchid cactus green thumb gene!

Positive spaceman_spiff On May 5, 2010, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've had my plant about 5 years now. Last year was the first time it had ever bloomed, but only had 2 or 3 flowers. But WOW were they awesome! This year it had about 17 flowers! Just incredible. It has been blooming the past week or so, and the last blooms just finished a couple days ago. (Each flower lasted 2 or 3 days). I'm going to post a couple of pictures in the Photos section.

(In the mean time, I have another plant that's blooming for the first time this year, but with only one flower, and it has just started to open tonight. I'm assuming it will last 2 or 3 days as well. The flower looks identical to the red ones, but this one's pink).

UPDATE, May 10th: Just added pics of the pink one in bloom. (Flower also lasted 3 days).

Positive woodyplant On Jan 16, 2010, woodyplant from Nelson, BC (Zone 4b) wrote:

this plant is growing just inside the south side window ,and not far from a heat vent.
I would like to know how and when to trim the long parts off and how short to make them without stopping it from flowering. I just love the flowers .

Positive BayAreaTropics On May 26, 2008, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

I have had one for many years and can say it's one of the best orchid cacti to own out of the thousands out there. Easily hardy to a zone 9b. As far as leaf shape..sometimes they are like Hylocereus and chunky and sometimes flat like the typical Epi's -and you can have both shapes at the same time if a change in lighting happens. It does seem also to be influenced by how crowded the plant is in it's pot.Underplanted gives you the chunky Hylocereus parentage. A day bloomer.One thing i have been told is that the berries that form after flowering are sweet and edible,again the Hylocereus DNA. I never knew that and now that its blooming in late May,I will get back to you when i can taste them after they ripen...

Positive grannieD On Jul 19, 2006, grannieD from Epworth, GA wrote:

I have had this plant Strap Cactus for more than ten years.

It usually blooms in July outside and I have also had it bloom indoors in late winter.

The plants buds from the long strap like leaves and then blooms late evening, lasting about three days.

grannieD mountains of Georgia

Neutral Xenomorf On Jul 4, 2005, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

A hybrid of Epiphyllum and Heliocereus, this has a bright red fower over 3 inches long that stays open for several days.
Epiphyllums And Disocactus have "leaf-like" stems, but no leaves (foliage).
Propagation is from woody stem cuttings, not leaves since there are no leaves.
More synonyms of this plant are Epiphyllum ackermanni & Cactus ackermannii.

Positive zapyon On May 15, 2005, zapyon from Cologne
Germany wrote:

Actually, I find it quite daring to determine your plant as Disocactus ackermannii based on information on the internet. Especially, since the species has been used as parent to many "Epiphyllum" hybrids.

D. ackermannii is a day bloomer. It may still be true that the flowers tend to open in the afternoon or evening. But they will bloom for several days (usually 3). Species that are put in the Epiphyllum genus today are all night bloomers. Think "Queen of the Night" (not the Selenicereus, the "real" one, the E. oxypetalum; common names are not unique, unlike botanical names), Epiphyllum anguliger (Zigzag Cactus), Epiphyllum chrysocardium (Fern Cactus), etc.

In our family we have several old plants that might be the species Epiphyllum ackermannii. But I am not sure either, as I have not yet found a way to determine it safely. I guess, this may be almost impossible without the help of a specialist. And maybe even a specialist can't determine it safely without genetic evaluation, because there is an incredible number of hybrids.

Anyway: the plants are all very easy to grow and their flowers a highlight in every home (or in a garden: they love hanging in a tree during summer in Germany, though winters are, of course, too cold).

Positive darius On Nov 18, 2003, darius from So.App.Mtns.
United States (Zone 5b) wrote:

This rather plain-looking Epi has a wonderful red flower, worth the wait. It blooms at night like Epiphyllum Oxypetalum (Night Blooming Cereus, or Queen of the Night) but the bloom lasts longer. Foliage looks very much like Epi Oxypetallum but has small spines.

Update 2004: This bloomed in daylight this year. I'm still not certain I have it properly identified, though. However, it's the closest I could find on the Internet.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Seward, Alaska
Nelson, British Columbia
Aptos, California
Brentwood, California
Chico, California
Fountain Valley, California
Hayward, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
Ellington, Connecticut
Sherman, Connecticut
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Boston, Massachusetts
Wrightstown, New Jersey
Troy, Pennsylvania
Wayne, Pennsylvania
York Haven, Pennsylvania

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