Saturday, January 3, 2009

Night-Blooming Cereus

If you like unusual plants, then here is one for you. The Night-Blooming Cereus is a cactus that can grow as much as 16 feet. It produces a large white flower that is highly scented. It smells like vanilla. The flower opens late at night and by morning has closed and dies. Plan to stay awake till late for the blooming of this plant. It is worth the wait!
The bud is very strange looking and when it looks like the one in the above picture, you know that it will be opening that evening. Move the plant in an area where you will be able to observe the plant. You only get one chance to see the bloom. I have been disappointed several times to find that I missed the show!

The bloom is between 7 to 10 inches long and only grows on established plants. If you know someone who has this plant, it can be easily propagated.
Night-Blooming Cereus (S. grandiflorus) grows best from spring to fall with night temperatures between 60-65 and day temperatures between 70 to 85. In the winter, temperatures between 50 to 55 at night and under 65 during the day. Higher temperatures in winter prevent bud formation. The plant can be planted in a mixture of 2 parts peat moss, 1 part commercial potting soil and 1 part sharp sand or perlite. Keep the soil medium evenly moist and fertilize every two weeks from spring to late summer with a low nitrogen house plant fertilizer diluted to half strength. During the summer move the plant outside and mist it each week. For rest of the year, keep the plant fairly dry and do not fertilize it. The Night-Blooming Cereus is not that attractive when it is not in bloom, but it will make up for it when it does bloom.
The Creative Gardener


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