Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Night Blooming Cereus Cactus

I have several large Night Blooming Cereus cactus which I keep in the greenhouse through the winter. In the summer I set them outside in partial shade. They typically bloom 3 or 4 times each summer and it's not unusual for one to throw a bloom in the fall after I have taken them into the greenhouse. Even though I keep them near the back door where I can easily step out and see them, I often forget to look and next morning all that remains  of their stunning beauty and fragrance is mush. When bloom time is getting close the flowers which grow straight develop a crook so that the open bloom points to the side or up instead of down. This characteristic not only alerts me to the coming flower but also may the source of one of it's common names, Dutchman's Pipe Cactus. The scientific name is Epiphyllum oxypetalum. Another common name is Queen of the Night, which it certainly is.
 Away from it's home range in Mexico,and Latin and South America it never sets seed and altho I have read that it is sterile, I suspect that the right moth or other pollinator is not on hand to do the job. It can be readily propagated from a leaf or stem cutting. Put the cutting in a soilless light  mixture, and water frequently til rooted. This plant  is called a cactus and care should be taken not to overwater. Give bright light, but not full sun. The Plant should be grown in a pot that appears too small, in other words, under pot.  My plants which are perhaps 6 feet tall have to be propped or tied up to remain upright. These plants grow naturally in the bits of organic matter caught in the crotches of trees and branches, so they do not need a lot of soil. If yours is not blooming, too much root room may be the culprit.

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