Epiphytes

Notes:

  • -- indicates plants commonly available in nurseries and/or garden centers in south Florida

  • © indicates Florida native plants

  • water drop indicates plants that can tolerate wet soils or occasional flooding. 

    Click on linked scientific names for photos and/or more information.

Common name
Scientific name

Size

Light

Comments

water dropBird’s nest anthurium --

Anthurium salviniae
(Link is to related species)

60

Partial to full shade

Large, herbaceous shrub or epiphyte consisting of majestic cluster of long, erect, tropical-looking leaves with wavy margins. Flowers relatively insignificant. Other bird’s nest anthuriums also drought tolerant.

Lady-of-the-night --

Brassavola nodosa

Photo

15-18”

Bright, filtered light

Epiphytic orchid with short, slender stems concealed by tubular sheaths. Gray-green leaves usually erect, very fleshy, grooved on upper surface, and semi-cylindrical. Flowers long-lived, fragrant at night, 3.5-6” across, and vary from pale green or yellowish to nearly pure white.

Orchid --

Cattleya skinneri

Culture Sheet

20”

Bright, filtered light

Stout, erect epiphyte with stiff, leathery leaves at top of each pseudobulb. Erect inflorescence emerges after several months of cool dry rest. Flowers are funnel-shaped tubes up to 3.5” across, typically evenly colored rose-purple. Numerous hybrids exist; all are drought tolerant.

Purple shell orchid --

Encyclia cochleata

Culture Sheet

18”

Bright, filtered light

Epiphytic orchid with leathery, strap-like leaves. Flowers are dark purple blotches on the back of greenish-yellow, twisted sepals and petals.

Butterfly orchid ©

Encyclia tampensis

18”

Bright, filtered light

Rare, epiphytic orchid native to the Everglades. Flowers small, with greenish-red sepals and narrow, tubular, white/pink petals.

Night blooming cereus --

Hylocereus undatus (1.79MB pdf)

30’

Full sun to partial shade

Epiphytic, vining cactus with outstanding, scented, night- blooming flowers. Requires sturdy tree or strong pergola for support. Produces edible fruit.

Staghorn fern --

Platycerium bifurcatum

3-6’

Light to full shade

Epiphytic fern with large, flattened fronds growing out of large, smooth scales that wrap around trees or other structures, forming a large ‘nest’. Other Platycerium also drought tolerant.

Resurrection fern --©

Polypodium polypodioides

6”

Light to full shade

Epiphytic fern that grows by rhizomes. Fronds deeply incised, green when wet and unfurled, but gray-scaly when dry.  Plant gets its name for its ability to ‘come back to life’ after being dried up. Will cover branches and trunks of trees. Also known as Pleopeltis polypodioides.

Mistletoe cactus

Rhipsalis baccifera

6’

Light to full shade

Hanging epiphytic cactus with stems to 6’ long. Bears flowers and ‘berries’.

Orchid --

Schomburgkia tibicinus

1-6’

Bright, filtered light

Epiphytic orchid with impressive 6’ flower stalks. Flowers range from brownish-orange to magenta. Must be kept dry once new growth is fully developed.

Spanish moss

Tillandsia usneoides

1-5’

Bright, filtered light

Weeping, hanging, gray-green epiphyte with tiny, narrow leaves and inconspicuous green flowers. Dries up during drought, but springs back to life when rain returns. Ball moss, T. recurvata, also drought tolerant.

Air plants --

Tillandsia spp.

2”-5’

Bright, filtered light

Hundreds of varieties, all having stiff, erect, linear, gray-green leaves. Thick-leaf varieties more drought tolerant. All water and nutrients taken up through leaves. Roots used as wire-like anchors. Flowers on long stalks above foliage, often brightly colored. Some are native species.