I was given my Epiphyllum oxypetalum or Queen of the Night cactus many years ago when my friend moved to another state. It limped along for a while in my living room and then I moved it to the sunroom. I’ve had it for years and I finally saw it bloom for the first time and I was so excited! It is a beautiful night-blooming cactus and it smells like heaven! I didn’t invite anyone over to watch it open, but many people do. Maybe next time.
The pictures below are of the bud. You can see how it originates from the edge of the flattened stem of the plant. No, those aren’t leaves but flattened stems. It is hard to believe the small place where the stem of the flower meets the stem of the plant could hold up the flower which is HUGE, but it does. My flower measured 9″ across.
Time to open
I kept checking on it every day. The bud started out pointing down towards the floor and as it got closer to bloom time, it started curving upwards. I’m sure it does that so the flower can be facing upwards when its pollinators come to visit. This plant needs to be pollinated to produce its fruit so it won’t be producing fruit in your home. When the white started showing, it knew it would flower that night and it did.
As soon as it started getting dark, it started to open and I wish I had done a time-lapse of it, but maybe next time. There is one more flower bud developing.
What is pollinating this flower?
So why does this flower open at night? There surely aren’t any bees hanging around to pollinate it after dark. Because they open at night, the pollinator must be active at night, right?. What is active at night that could pollinate the flowers? Creatures that come out at night include moths, but also bats. Yes, bats are one of the pollinators of these flowers and then they remember where the flowers were because they know they will find their red, juicy fruit there later. These plants are naturally found in Mexico and parts of South America. I found an article that cited that it was discovered by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle, a Swiss botanist, in 1828, but not sure that is a fact.
Where to Place Your Plant
Because this plant scrambles up and through other plants in its natural habitat, I grow mine in a large container and have a couple of bamboo stakes to hold it up. It did attempt to grow up into the shade cloths of my sunroom, but I took it down. I moved it to a brighter area and it loves it, producing two blooms this year. It had one last year, but I missed it as it was behind the plant stand and I found the dried-up flower later. I was bummed, to say the least. Though it is an understory plant in the jungle, it does climb up other plants toward the light. I think a west or south window would work fine in your home to encourage blooms.
How it attracts pollinators
Not only is it beautiful, but the flower also smells good. It needs to make sure it attracts as many pollinators as it can in the short time it blooms. Flowers are all about getting pollinated and making more of themselves by developing seeds and by any way needed to ensure it gets done. It also helps to be white because it practically glows in the dark. So if the pollinators don’t see it glowing in the dark as they fly by, the smell should lure them in to check it out.
I’m not sure why it took so long to bloom, but I suspect it didn’t have enough light. Many blooming plants prefer to be snug in their pot to bloom, as well. It is in quite a large pot and may have needed to fill the pot with roots. Usually, a cold period helps, too. My plant is in the corner of my sunroom away from the space heater so I think it probably gets a bit chilly in the winter. Because of the temperature, I don’t give it much water then, either. So when it warms up in the spring and I give it more water, it is triggered to bloom.
By the next morning, it had closed and deflated like a popped balloon. I can’t wait until it blooms again!
Do you have a night-blooming cactus? Has it bloomed for you? Did you have a flower party with friends? Let me know in the comments.
Have a great week, plant friends!
Is that the same plant as a night blooming crereus?
They have called it that in the past but the botanical name is Epiphyllum. I think they may have changed the name. That seems to happen a lot these days.
We recently have several blooms this month of August & September, 2021. We have 5 hanging pots. It’s spectacular to watch them from beginning to end. Started from a small green bud and eventually opening up to a majestic white fragrant flower that lasted for a night. We hand pollinated few flowers and yet to see if it is successful. We have everything in photo and time lapse from opening to its closing.
That is so cool! I wanted to do a time lapse on the last one, went out to dinner, and forgot. Maybe next time. They are spectacular!
Thanks for your post and I am waiting anxiously for mine to bloom! Very similar stories that I got it from a friend 18 years ago and saw a flower bud last year but missed it since I went travel. Now just last Saturday I noticed the flower bud but have not bloomed yet.
I hope you were able to see it bloom!
Hi Lisa, congratulations on your bloom! I, like you, was given a cutting from a friend to who mailed it to me across the country. It sat and looked at me for a full year, and just recently I was blessed with a bud! I am anxiously awaiting the ‘birth’. My question is how long it took from the time you first noticed a bud to the time it actually opened. My ‘bud’ is now almost 5 inches long and it’s been growing steadily for almost two weeks. I have no idea when to expect it! I am going out of town next week and I would be heartbroken if I missed it! thanks!
Hi Mary, I am not observant enough to know when it started so not sure how long it takes. It does take a while. It will start turning white, but the true clue to let you know it is about to bloom is that the bud curves upwards. Then you know it will happen that night or the next. Hope that helps and I hope you don’t miss it!
My plants first bloom is opening tonight! So happy it’s happening on girls night. Wine, bachelors in paradise, and a flower party. Thanks for the info!
That is awesome! Cheers! Lisa
Hey, mine bloomed last night n this morning i spotted its still blooming, i don’t know why, but its so lovely to enjoy the sight of it❤️❤️
That’s awesome!!! You are lucky. It was hard to take pictures of it in the dark! lol
I moved mine from my courtyard garden to the common apartment block garden this year and two blooms are about to open ( I’m in Sydney). I have planned a party with the apartment block residents so your indicators for when it will open are vety helpful. I plan to serve the French cocktail Kir Royale!
Hi Deborah, I think that is absolutely amazing! I love it! I hope your party was fun! Lisa
Your posting was so helpful! I was able to use it as a guide and saw mine bloom for the first time!
Thank you 🌸
I’m so glad you saw it bloom! I have two more buds and I am so excited to see and smell it again!
I have had my “Queen” for 7 long years. I finally saw the bud last week!! Your information helped me tremendously! I want to know if it’s okay to have a lamp on as it blooms for the video. Thank you!!
I’m glad I could help. It is fine if you have the light on. I had mine on while I was filming.
Once they bloom what do you do with deflated flowers?
I just cut them off. They are pretty unattractive and turn brown.