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 that grow up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long or more. The branching, primary stems are up to 16 inches (40 cm) long, 0.2 inches (6 mm) thick, woody at the base and flattened at the 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.

Disocactus phyllanthoides - German Empress
Photo via pinterest.com

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.

Disocactus can be reproduced both by seeds and cuttings. See more at How to Grow and Care for Disocactus.


Native to Mexico (Hidalgo, Oaxaca).


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