How to Grow and Care for a Queen of the Night Plant

The Queen of the Night, Epiphyllum oxypetalum, is a cactus that rarely blooms, and when it does, only at night. Known also as the night-blooming cereus, this is a fast-growing and long-living spineless cactus. It stands erect and then sprawls.

It’s the most cultivated species of Epiphyllum, grown as an epiphytic houseplant. Epiphytic or lithophytic organisms use other surfaces as a base for growth and support. The queen of the night plant has a scented white bloom that lasts only one night.

How Does a Queen of the Night Bloom Look Like?

The queen’s flower is a marvelous beauty of sweet-smelling splendor. Many gardeners try to make this cactus bloom. A white flower tinged with yellow that has a star-like or spider-shaped appearance. While fragrant, the queen of the night’s flower is delicate and has between 20 and 35 linear petals.

It’s a game of hide-and-seek to catch the queen’s bloom, which adds to the magical specialness. From around eight to ten pm, the flower starts to open. It can achieve full bloom by between midnight and three in the morning.

The queen’s bloom, while spectacular, is a tough event to cultivate. A well-groomed plant will need a controlled environment. This includes the right temperature even in the winter months.

Blooms can get encouraged. One strategy is putting the queen of the night plant through a winter cooling process. During this time, the plant should keep at temperatures of around 40°F.

Some fertilizers have formulations to encourage the queen’s bloom.

How to Take Care of a Queen of the Night Plant

While an indoor plant, the queen of the night plant, can be grown outdoors, Epiphyllum oxypetalum can thrive in any environment. That’s as long as it receives the fullest care. Your reward will be the occasional and nocturnal sweet-smelling bloom.

This thrill of watching the queen bloom is what has made the cactus a gardener’s staple. In the outdoors, this perennial plant thrives in hardy zones of South America, México. It’s also found in parts of the southern US. If you live in a temperate area, grow this cactus as an indoor houseplant.

Planting the Queen of the Night Plant

The queen of the night plant prefers shade. That’s true since not all cacti thrive in desert-like, full direct light conditions. While not parasitic, Epiphyllum oxypetalum grows on other plants as epiphytes. I like to grow mine in hanging pots with trellis or stake supports.

I have the queen of the night plants using branches of frangipani as support. It’s interesting to see them flower at the same time. You can mix them in with cape angels, begonias, camellias, liriope, and tropical Rhodos. Al, ensuring there’s filtered light reaching the cactus.

With this knowledge, it would be wise to plant your night-blooming cereus under the shade. It also does well under larger shrubs. These provide the filtered light that the queen prefers. They also give your cactus support for growth.

Soil Requirements for the Queen of the Night Plant

Epiphyllum oxypetalum grows well in soil with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Soil should also be a bit acidic. From late winter through to early fall, you can give her low nitrogen fertilizer. This increases the plant’s size while ensuring that large numbers of buds will flower.

You can use vegetative material compost in place of fertilizer. This acts to replenish your queen of the night plant’s soil. The cactus converts organic matter well. Bird droppings, dead insects, and fallen leaves provide nutrients in the wild.

Use a potting soil with good draining capabilities, which works as the best mix for this cactus. I usually create my potting mixture using equal parts of ground fir bark and peat moss. This acts as a base for most tropical and low-watered plants.

A similar mix employs this base mix with another part of coarse builder sand. I mix this in the ratio of two to one until well combined. Use coarse sand instead of fine sand as the latter eliminates binding. This makes your potting mix hard to drain.

You can also add one part of pumice or perlite or a part of fir bark and orchid chips for each pot of queen plant. Pumice loosens up the potting mix, so it’s well-draining. These materials can get sourced online or at your local gardening store.

Care and Watering Of Your Queen of the Night Plant

When caring for a cactus plant, the rule of thumb is to water it only if the soil is near dry. Like many of her species, the queen of the night plant should get watered once in a fortnight. Carry this on from spring through to autumn.

Water this night bloomer once only every four or six weeks during the winter. Temperature preferences for this plant range from 50° to 90° F at a 50% humidity level. Mist this cactus every once in a week if the conditions are dry.

Watering should be thorough. Ensure that the soil is well-draining to prevent root rot. Select pots with holes for drainage and water mature plants less than younger ones.

The queen of the night plant thrives well in high humidity. Place a saucer of water next to the plant during hot summer days. The same applied to the winter when you’re using artificial heating.

Lighting Requirements for the Queen of the Night Plant

The queen of the night blooms only at night, and each time, with only one spectacular flower. This happens from around eight o’clock through to after midnight when it’s in full bloom. A flower can stay open until mid-morning the next day but usually wilts off within 12 hours.

Ensure that your queen of the night blooms by giving her indirect or filtered sunlight. This is especially true when you’ve planted it as a houseplant. A south-facing window placement allows this cactus to get at least six hours of light. That’s three in the morning, and three in the late afternoon, which are quite enough.

The queen can withstand temperatures up to 100° F, but above that, she will die. Although she’s part of the cactus family, the queen of the night is a tropical plant. When it gets too hot, a moveable outdoor plant can move indoors. This will promote successful blooming results.

When your Epiphyllum oxypetalum is in the outdoors, things can get a bit sticky. If you’ve planted the queen on the ground, you’ll need to improvise ways that shield her from the direct midday sun. You can use other plants, an umbrella, or bedsheets to ensure she’s not scorched.

A container plant is easier to manage in this aspect as all you’ve got to do is move your queen to a shaded location. When planting it on the ground, select shade areas such as under tree canopies or larger shrubs.

Propagating the Queen of the Night Plant

To propagate and root the queen of the night, use leaf cuttings. You can cut a few mature leaves of at least four to six inches long. Let the cuttings sit in a cool, dry place for a couple of days. This is until calluses form on them, as these prevent the leaves from rotting when planted.

You can dip the leaf cuttings in rooting hormone. This speeds up the propagation process. Prepare your well-draining potting mix and place it in a medium-sized container. Ensure that this pot has drain holes.

Place the cutting into the soil with the cut end down. Water it once a week while keeping away from direct sun.

Allow the cuttings to sit in the soil until roots form, and you can give them light tugs to check their progress. Rooting should take anywhere between two or three weeks. After this, you should move the cactus to a well-lit but shaded area.

Repotting a queen of the night plant cutting that’s propagated can be after a few years of being in the same pot. Allow some time after repotting to give the roots enough recovery time. This is before resuming the regular schedule for watering.

What You Need to Know about the Queen of the Night Plan

How Often Does Queen of the Night Bloom?

To grasp the extraordinary fragrance produced by the rare blooming queen plant, you’ll have to stay up late. Shaped like a water lily, the majestic nocturnal, Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a party season attraction.

This plant is perfect for a hanging pot, from which the spineless branches swoop down to drape in preparation for the bloom. When this happens, jasmine-scented, white flowers with narrow petals adorn their buds.

The queen loves low or filtered light, such as morning sunshine. Her green leaves will turn yellow with disapproval if you expose her to the afternoon heat.

The flowers are enormous, sometimes up to 9 inches in diameter. They’re believed to hold medicinal values in some cultures and attract bats, who are the natural pollinators in a wild setting. Each bud blooms once, at night during the spring and the summer.

This night-blooming cereus is not difficult to grow, a classic hand-me-down plant. With easy-to-root cuttings, you shouldn’t get surprised to find a queen that’s passed down for generations.

Is the Queen of the Night Plant Frost Tolerant?

Temperatures below 35°F are not suitable for the queen of the night plant. While inside the house, ensure the night-blooming plant stays away from drafty vents. The same applies to windows.

Bring the potted cactus indoors when the temperatures drop below 40°F.

What if yours is a ground-planted, outdoor queen? You can offer protection against the coldest moments of winter. Cover it with a frost cloth or an old blanket, ensuring that the material doesn’t touch the leaves.

You can erect a support structure around which to wrap the cloth or sheet. Do this in the late afternoon until the following morning.

Is the Queen of the Night Poisonous or Toxic?

No known poisonous effects can be derived from the queen of the night plat. Its flower has supposed healing effects. It gets used in native healing rituals by Amazonian tribes. They believe the flower’s mystical nocturnal bloom is an act of the gods.

There are different needs for propagation and growth than other succulent cacti. But the queen of the night is challenging and appealing. Once her requirements get taken into consideration, your queen’s maintenance is easy. You may get rewarded with scented blooms.

Special Considerations When Growing the Queen of the Night Plant

An essential consideration for the wellbeing of your queen plant is watering. Another is lighting. During the cold season, temperatures below 35° F will kill the queen of the night plant.

This cactus is susceptible to springtime fungal leaf-spot. It can develop fuzzy mold-like blotches on its leaves. A difficult affliction, this disease can respond to fungicide spray.

If your queen gets covered in patches, it’s best to cut off the infected leaves and start a new shoot. Ensure that an offspring gets transplanted feet away from the afflicted parent plant.

Getting her to bloom might prove difficult and will take a bit of elbow grease, plus patience on your part. You can feed her low nitrogen fertilizer or liquid plant food. This will stimulate flowering.

I have used dried banana peels for years as home-formulated compost. These have always helped me enjoy exotic nighttime blooms.

Banana peels have little nitrogen, and you can prepare them by drying or baking at low heat. They complement any flowering fertilizer. This compost will turn a non-bloomer into an eager flowerer.

Conclusion

The queen of the night plant can grow up to 10 ft. long and have a 3-foot leaf spread. She loves the shaded light and isn’t fussy about soil conditions. That’s as long as they’re well-drained. The soil should also be low in nitrogen and have high organic material content.

A native of the Mexican and Guatemalan arid areas, the queen of the night plant is disease resistant. You can propagate her leaves to create offspring. If you fertilize her well, she’ll come through with awesome nocturnal blooms.

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