The epiphyllum oxypetalum, also known as the “Queen of the Night” cactus, is a plant that lasts all year long. It can grow up to 10 feet tall and can be found worldwide.
It grows in hardiness zones 10 and 11, and it’s a plant that grows on other plants for support because it doesn’t have enough space on its own.
This is a unique plant because it only blooms for one night. When you wake up, your home will smell sweet.
There are some things you can do to help you grow this plant. When it grows, it doesn’t take long to bloom.
Here are some flowering cactus that you can grow at home, like this one.
Growing Queen Of The Night Cactus
In the Epiphyllum family, the orchid cactus, or queen of the night cactus, epiphyllum oxypetalum, is one of the most popular plants.
As the common name implies, this species features large, fragrant white flowers that bloom only at night. Native to Mexico and South America, these long-lasting cacti are found in the driest parts of Mexico and South America.
They grow best in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 through 12.
These cacti can be grown as houseplants in cooler climates. The foliage that you see from the plant is made up of modified stems that can store water in dry weather.
People don’t want to give this plant too much sunlight, especially in the hottest parts of the day.
A place in your home that gets a lot of indirect sunlight is an excellent place to grow it. 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit is the best range for it to work.
It would help if you kept low temperatures and areas with vents where it can find drafts away from, so they don’t get cold.
Contrary to what most people think, not all cacti can grow in full, direct sunlight.
The queen of the night cactus likes to be in the shade at least some of the time.
If you live in the wild, these cacti are called epiphytes. This means that these plants grow on other plants in the wild, but they don’t hurt or eat them.
Knowing this and knowing that the queen of the night likes partial shade, it’s best to plant them under large shrubs. This will help support your cactus as it grows. It will also protect it from the sun.
Well-drained, airy soil is what this plant needs to thrive. I like to mix a little perlite with a few handfuls of orchid bark to make a slightly acidic mix.
In addition, it will also grow well in sandy soil, peat moss, and pine bark because these soil types are good at letting water drain away from the roots.
This plant does not need a lot of space in the pot. It grows better when it is root-bound.
Queen of the night likes soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. This is where it grows best. Every month from the spring through fall, fertilize your plants to help them grow.
Make sure you use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen. Having too much nitrogen can make your cactus grow more extensive, making it less likely to flower.
If you don’t want to use traditional fertilizer, you can use simple compost to help the soil. Since, in the wild, these cacti are very good at turning organic matter, like leaves that have been thrown away by birds or the bodies of dead insects, into nutrients, this works well.
The Queen of the night cactus should be about half of the soil dry out between waterings for cacti. This is how they should be grown. Because root rot, caused by over-watering, can be awful for plants in dark rooms, it’s essential only to water them when they’re mostly dry.
When the plant is budding or in bloom, use lukewarm water to avoid shocking its delicate root systems with too much water.
Symptoms of under-watering include little to no new growth, a vital transplant, and dried leaves. Yellow leaves that soon fall off and little to no growth are signs of over-watering. Root rot is another. These can happen if the soil is too wet, the soil medium isn’t suitable, or there is a lot of shade.
If the foliage near the soil line turns brown and mushy, root rot has likely. Take stem cuttings from natural plants by following the steps in “Propagation”.
Due to their origins in the tropics of southern Mexico, maintaining a constant level of humidity should be a priority during cultivation.
During the winter, add a humidity tray or mist the foliage to compensate for the drying air caused by operating radiators. In the summer, artificial humidifiers are unnecessary.
Feeding the Plant
There is a liquid plant food from Schultz that you can use to start. Dried banana peels have been in our garden for a long time, and in the next year, we found that a plant that hadn’t bloomed at all started to bloom in a way that we’d never seen before.
It’s good to use banana peels with other fertilizers because they don’t have nitrogen.
Dehydrators can be used to make dried banana peels. You can also bake them in the oven at a low temperature to make them.
Fertilize every four weeks during the growing season, then every six weeks in the autumn and winter. Although a ‘Houseplant’ fertilizer will suffice, we recommend using a feed labelled ‘Cactus’ as it will provide the essential thirteen nutrients required for this species to grow.
While the plant is budding or blooming, switch to a potassium-based feed, such as ‘Tomato’ food, to prolong the spring flowering process.
You should never apply an RTU (Ready to Use) feed without first soaking the roots and leaves in water. This will cause the roots to burn and the leaves to yellow.
Queen of the night is particularly susceptible to fungal leaf spots in the spring. Affected cactus leaves will develop fuzzy, mould-like patches. Regrettably, this condition can be challenging to treat.
If only a few defects are discovered, fungicide spray may be beneficial. However, if the cactus is covered in spots, it may be best to cut a healthy portion of the cactus and start a new plant at least a few feet away from the original plant from the clipping.
When you first plant your queen of the night cactus, you’ll want to choose a location that receives some shade during the day. Allow it to become acclimated to its new shaded habitat.
Additionally, the temperature should be greater than 55 degrees Fahrenheit when the flower is first planted.
While bright, indirect light is preferable, a splash of morning sun won’t hurt. You must avoid positions with more than two hours of direct sunlight due to their susceptibility to sun scorch.
The ideal location is within three metres of a north, east, or west-facing window or beneath a skylight window.
The stunning white blooms of the queen of the night cactus open only at night, typically after 8 p.m., and may remain open until approximately 10 a.m. the following morning.
Each flower blooms for one night only. Thus, while the queen of the night flowers all summer, only one flower will be open on any given night.
If you’re growing a queen of the night cactus, it’s good to check for available flowers each night to avoid missing the magnificent blooms.
When your queen of the night grows, you will see many long shoots coming from it. These are long stalks that are meant to hold on to trees so that they can grow together in the wild.
A plant has small root-like structures on its stems or stolons. These help the plant hold on to other plants and stay in place. This lets the plant move around the trees’ leaves in search of better light
Up to 1m in height and 1m in width, with maturity taking up to eight years.
When the Flowers Bloom
As previously stated in this guide, this plant’s flowers bloom only at night. They will be open for a single evening, most likely around 8 p.m. The following morning, around 6 a.m., the flower will have finished blooming, and if you do not check each night to see if a bloom is ready, you are likely to miss it.
The flowers bloom in the spring and summer and can reach a diameter of nine inches when fully opened.
How to Make the Queen Of The Night Cactus Bloom
If you want this plant to bloom, you will have to be patient and work hard. Whether or not the plant gets enough light is very important. As long as you have the right amount of indirect sunlight, any place will work.
Keep the plant in a small pot, so it doesn’t have too much room to grow. To help your plant grow, the next thing you need to do is give it a dose of fertilizer between January and October.
Pruning & Maintenance
Remove leaves that are yellow or dying and plant debris to make it easier for plants to grow. It would help if you always used clean tools or shears when pruning so that you don’t spread bacteria and fungal diseases.
Never cut through yellowed tissue, as this can result in additional damage from diseases or bacterial infections.
Make clean incisions, as excessively damaged wounds may shock the plant, resulting in weakened growth and a downturn in health.
Watering and Care
Queen of the Night, like the majority of cacti, does not require frequent watering. Indeed, excessive watering can result in the rot of the cactus’s roots, which is fatal.
Water the queen of the night once every two weeks from spring to fall. You can reduce watering to approximately once every four to six weeks during the winter.
Ensure that the soil around your cactus is arid before watering. If the soil is moist, avoid adding additional water.
Temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and at least 50% humidity are ideal for the queen of the night.
This cactus should be misted once a week in addition to regular watering in arid conditions. Queen of the night should not be exposed to temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in the cactus’s death.
Care by time to time
|Time of Year||Care Requirements|
|January & February||Resting/Dormancy Period. Reduce irrigations and fertilisation.|
|March||End of Resting/Dormancy Period. Increase waters and feed using a ‘Houseplant’ labelled fertiliser every four waters.|
|April||Pre-Flowering Period. Use a ‘Tomato’ labelled feed every four waters during this period. Water once the top third of the soil dries out.|
|May & June||Flowering Period. Maintain moist soil and fortnightly potassium-based feeds.|
|July||End of the Flowering Period. Gradually decrease both water and fertiliser intake in the soil. Remove spent flowers as they wilt.|
|August & September||Water once the top third of the soil dries out. Supplement using ‘Houseplant’ labelled feed every six waters.|
|October – December||Resting/Dormancy Period. Reduce irrigations and fertilisation.|
How to Propagate the Queen of the Night Cactus
This plant is straightforward to propagate. You can start a new plant from a leaf cutting. You should dip its tip in a rooting hormone to aid in rooting, and the portion cut should be approximately four to six inches long.
Allow two weeks for the cutting to dry out in a cool, dark place before planting it in the soil to begin growing.
Once the plant is in the soil, do not water it for a week to ten days.
Soil Propagation of Leaf Cuttings
- Select the appropriate leaves. The best plants show no signs of damage, pests, or diseases and have attached small wire roots. These are the best candidates. Cuttings that lack sources will still root, but propagation will take longer.
- Carefully prune the entire leaf from the plant and cut it into several sideways sections. If you’re unsure how to propagate the leaves, refer to the image below.
- Prepare the container and the soil. You can achieve excellent moisture retention and drainage balance by using a well-draining potting mix, such as ‘Cactus & Succulent’ compost. If you have any shallow and wide containers, such as a Bonsai container, now is the time to use them. Tropical cactus cutting propagation does not require a deep soil bed, so avoid using huge pots. In this instance, both terracotta and plastic pots are acceptable.
- Position the cuttings ABOVE the moist soil. Allowing the plant and its wound to callus (dry out and harden) expedites the rooting process and helps prevent rot. For a week, keep the cuttings on top of moist soil, misting the soil and foliage on alternate days.
- Make sure there is enough light and that the temperature stays above 18°C (64°F).
- Then, submerge the bottom third of the cuttings in the soil. Take care not to set it too deeply, as this could result in ‘Blackleg’ (the rotting of its base).
- Avoid patting down the surrounding soil to assist with support. Because the ideal soil conditions are fluffy and oxygenated, compacting the soil results in root suffocation, which results in root rot. Consolidate (not compact) the soil by tapping the pot’s side. If assistance is required, use a small stick or cane, but avoid condensing it.
- Aftercare – Maintain an even moisture level in the soil by allowing the top third to dry between waterings. This is where it should be: in a warm and humid room but not too close to a window. It should be out of direct sunlight. Treat it like any other houseplant as soon as it’s been in the soil for a few months or so.
Repotting Queen of the night cactus
They’re far better off remaining potbound for several years due to the increased risk of root rot and repotting-related issues (such as transplant shock), so only repot when necessary – restricted root growth also increases the likelihood of blooms.
Hydrate the plant for 24 hours before tinkering with the roots to avoid transplant shock. If the pot is located in a darker area, add an amount of perlite and grit to the deeper portion of the pot to minimize the risk of over-watering.
Bonus Tip – Where to Buy
We found a couple of Queen of Night Cactus on Amazon!
Annual Flowers & Dormancy Care
It is challenging to get a Queen of the Night Cactus to flower due to its rarity. A specimen will bloom only when it reaches maturity, which in some cases can take up to six years.
Due to this, we have created a term to assist you – SHORT.
Dry soil, cooler temperatures, and longer nights contribute to improved flowers the following season.
Repotting is not required but may harm the chances of survival due to transplant shock and stress.
Autumn and winter are the best times to take these steps so that the plants can hibernate their best.
Assure that the location is bright with little to no direct sunlight. While winter rays are unlikely to harm the plant, take care not to succumb to sun scorch and severe dehydration.
When it’s dark, don’t use artificial lighting or go to places where the temperature is more than 18°C (64°F).
You should reduce soil moisture to a point where at least three-quarters of it are no longer wet. It is essential to keep them on the drier side of life, as they will believe that difficult times are ahead and will thus need to pass on their genes to the next generation.
Feeds on Occasion
One or two feeds are utilizing the ‘Cactus & Succulent’ category. Supplementation with fertilizer is sufficient, as excessively fertile soil reduces the likelihood of summer blooms.
Everything Must Be Reduced
This one serves as a reminder to minimize everything, most notably the temperature.
This is the most critical step; lower the temperature by approximately 5°C compared to summer or place it in a room between 13o – 16°C (56o – 61°F). Because this species only responds to places where the temperature changes by about 5°C every day, you’ll be at a significant disadvantage if the temperature stays the same all year.
It could kill the plants or make their leaves turn yellow at the very least if the temperature goes above the minimum.
Common Problems & Solutions with Queen of the Night Cactus
Root rot is a significant problem, characterized by yellow lower leaves, stunted or softened growth, and frequent stem collapse. Remove the plant from the pot and examine the root systems. Yellow roots mean good health, but brown and mushy parts with wet soil are caused by over-watering.
When you over-water your plants, you can also end up with brown, rotten soil at the bottom of your plants. If the majority of the trunk has rotted away, it is necessary to take stem cuttings to save the surviving section of the plant. For more information, scroll down to ‘Propagation’!
Yellowing leaves in the middle or a base that isn’t covered in leaves are signs that too much water has been allowed to stay on the foliage of small, compact plants.
It’s OK to water from the top, but it’s better to avoid rotting foliage from the bottom up. For those with their heads buried in the soil, this method and increased light levels will help to improve growing conditions.
Getting vine cuttings and putting them in the ground when the stems are more than 5cm long will make the plant look bushy.
Remove yellowed or rotten debris immediately, as they can harbor both bacterial and fungal diseases that can spread to other parts of the plant.
The extreme woodiness is a common symptom of Queen of the Night Cacti. It may result from excessive sunlight exposure in some cases, but it will inevitably occur as your specimen matures!
People who aren’t good at gardening sometimes have a leaf or stem cuttings that don’t work. The most common causes are damaged wounds or vines that are too small.
All tropical cacti can be grown quickly, but some people still have a hard time with it. If the vine is too big, it won’t be able to root. If the leaves or vine are damaged, it won’t be able to grow. Scroll down to the ‘Propagation’ section of this article for additional information on how to take vines.
Excessive sunlight will give the foliage a reddish hue. Although Queen of the Night Cacti thrives in locations with only a few hours of direct sunlight, prolonged exposure to unacclimated specimens will result in sun scorch. If you have a newly purchased plant, gradually increase the amount of light, it receives each week by an hour.
There aren’t any flowers because the plants aren’t old enough or haven’t had enough time to rest during the winter. Specimens will only bloom after they have reached maturity, taking between three and six years from a leaf cutting.
Additionally, locations with near-constant temperatures throughout the year prevent the plant from dormant, resulting in inadequate spring growth. To promote bud development, choose a location with nighttime temperatures around 12°C (54°F) and little water.
The plant needs both cooler temperatures and dry soil to get ready for the next growing season in the winter. This means a better chance of the plant flowering in the future.
Just use lukewarm water, and if using tap water, allow at least 24 hours before applying. When you put cold tap water in a pot of tropical cacti right away, it will not only iron out the roots but could also make them yellow and stunt their growth.