Information About Night Blooming Cereus

Information On Night Blooming Cereus Peruvianus

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Night blooming cereus is a cactus that is native to Arizona and the Sonora Desert. Most can be grown as houseplants too. Get more information in this article and learn about this interesting cactus plant.

Night Blooming Cereus

Epi, as she is affectionately called, gave us our first bloom June 24, 2005

Hi junglegoin,
Just a note on the Entry Page that your photo is listed under. "Night Blooming Cereus - Cereus"
The nickname "Epi" comes from the genus "Epiphyllum", so that would put this plant under the "Epiphyllum" genus and not the "Cereus" genus. (although there may have been some of the Epiphyllum species that were at one time in past considered to be a 'Cereus', they have now been classified as Epiphyllums)
There are also *dozens* of Ceroid type of species of cacti that bloom at night.
(I know. the 'Night Blooming Cereus' name is just a generic term and can be misleading)
You will probably find the appropriate entry page for your plant photo in this search link:

This has been corrected.

This message was edited Dec 26, 2005 11:34 AM

Love your nightbloomer! We have three pots in various years of growth. One does produce blossoms, but hasn't yet this year.

I love your night blooming cereus. The bloom is beautiful.
Mine. was doing just great. I moved it to a new spot because it was getting so big and now it is getting big black spots on the leaves. I don't know if it does not like the new spot or if that was just a coincidence that it happened about a week after I moved it. I have it in a container. I did not change the container when I moved it.

Growing Basics

In all but the warmest regions, grow night-blooming cereus as a houseplant. Give it a spot outdoors for summer with filtered light or morning sun. Protect plants from hot afternoon sun, which can burn leaves. Plants produce lots of new growth in spring and summer. Water regularly, but allow soil to dry out between waterings. Tuck plants into soil that drains well, such as cactus mix or soilless container mix. Fertilize plants every 10 to 14 days with water soluble plant food (10-10-10 works fine).

Night Blooming Cereus Flower Buds

Night blooming cereus forms flower buds on older leaves. Giving plants bright light is a key to getting flower buds to form.

Photo by: Julie Martens Forney

A night-blooming cereus produces pencil-like stems and flattened stems, which most people refer to as leaves. Those leaves that have been around at least two active growing seasons are the ones that develop flower buds, which form in the scalloped indentations along the leaf edge. Plants typically blossom in summer and/or fall. Four things help trigger flower bud formation:

  • Bright light (but not too bright, as noted above)
  • Regular fertilizer after moving plants outside for summer
  • Keeping plants slightly rootbound
  • Proper winter treatment (see below)

Night Blooming Cereus Buds Ready To Open

The flower buds on a night blooming cereus enlarge and become puffy the night they will open. Bracts surrounding the bud turn pinkish and curl like wispy hairs.

Photo by: Julie Martens Forney

After flower buds appear, they slowly enlarge. A few days before opening, the flower stem bends, so the blossom is parallel to the ground. The day of blooming, flower buds swell, petals are clearly visible, and outer bracts appear plump and wavy.

Faded Night Blooming Cereus Blooms

Night blooming cereus flowers close shortly after dawn arrives.

Photo by: Julie Martens Forney

Night-blooming cereus opens its flowers after dark, usually between 8 and 9 p.m. Buds open slowly, releasing fragrance from the first moment, and are usually fully unfurled about midnight. With dawn’s first light, flowers close. Faded blooms dry and drop naturally from plants, or you can gently break flower stems to remove them.

To preserve an open flower for daytime enjoyment, place the stem in water in the fridge. It will remain open—complete with perfume—the next day.

Nighttime Flowers

We are used to looking at flowers during daylight. Blooming black-eyed susans or hollyhocks with their parabolic dish-shaped flowers are hard to miss. Though many flowers attract diurnal pollinators such as bees, flies, butterflies and hummingbirds, there are those flowers whose allegiance is to the night and the pollinators that flit about in the darkness. These are the plants of the moonbeam garden whose flowers unfurl as darkness approaches and then close up shop with the morning's light. These plants often attract moths, nighttime insects and even bats as pollinators.

Depending upon where one lives, there are a host of night-bloomers that could be fit into a nighttime garden. Datura, moonflowers, Indian tobacco, four o'clocks, blazing stars, catchflies, night blooming jasmine, night gladiolus, dragon fruit, night-blooming cereus and Lady of the night, these are just some of those plants whose flowers bloom at night.

The group of evening primroses (Oenothera) is another source of night blooming flowers. These flowers slowly unfurl their petals, sometimes during the day, and produce scents that attract night-flying moths and insects. Sphinx moths, also known as hummingbird moths, which resemble small hummingbirds, may visit these flowers in search of nectar, as well lay their eggs on the plants. The greenish caterpillars resemble a tomato hornworm, for the hornworms are close relatives of the sphinx moth. The larvae feed on the primrose's leaves before going underground to pupate.

Besides the primrose, there is the snowball or sand verbena (Abronia fragrans) with its cluster of tubular white flowers that form a snowball shape when all the flowers open. The verbena attracts sphinx moths in a similar fashion, with sweet aroma and nectar rewards, but sometimes an early morning butterfly may feed on the flower's nectar prior to closing time.

One classic genus of plants in the nighttime garden are the Yuccas (Yucca). Members of the Agave Family, their flowers open in at night and attract a particular species of moth, called the yucca or pronuba moth. The female of this species gathers a small ball of pollen in her mouth and pollinates a receptive yucca plant, then deposits her eggs in the base of the yucca's ovary. As the fruit develops, the larvae feed upon the maturing seeds. These small ½" long moths are easy to view at night as they crawl over and into the yucca's bell-shaped flowers.

Some of the night-blooming plants might be potted ones growing inside or others planted out in the garden. My friends have a night-blooming cereus (Peniocereus) that has put on quite the indoor show this summer. Their time lapse photography of the flowers opening is truly a marvel. These plants also grow in the wild and their ephemeral blooms last but a day.

A visit to the local nursery or stroll through the wilds will reveal a variety of night-blooming plants. Many have a strong, sweet scent designed to attract pollinators we humans get the benefit of nighttime flowers and sweet aromas with these "moon bloomers."

About Damian Fagan

About Damian Fagan

Damian is contributing writer to Dave's Garden. He is a freelance writer, hiking guide, gardener and wreath-maker living in Central Oregon. He has published several books including Pacific Northwest Wildflowers and Canyon Country Wildflowers with Globe Pequot Press.

Epiphyllum (Night Blooming Cereus) Photos and Information


Ask a Question Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

Question: What is This Plant? (Night Blooming Cereus)

I am trying to find out what type of plant this is. I started it from a leaf that fell off my sister's plant. Her long stems are about 8' tall that was started 5 years ago.
Here is a picture, not sure if I got the full effect of the leaves that are thick and other leaves grow off of them. Also the stems get very long then a group of leaves start again.


It is not large enough or clear enough to tell what it is,good luck.

It might be a night blooming cereus.

Looks like a night blooming cerus to me.

it is an orchid cactus,
some of them bloom at night white and yellow
and I have one that blooms during the day which is bright pink

Without any possible mistake this is a Broad-Leafed Epiphyllum popular name is Queen of the Night, because the flowers open at night, the most beautiful flowers for their colour : orange or pink or pure yellow or white and the most incredible fragrance.

It is a night blooming cerus plant, it is in the succulent family and only blooms once a year, but it is beautiful.

I have one too, had it for more than a decade & it has never bloomed. I knew it was a succulent, but never knew the proper name.

It is a night blooming cereus. Interesting enough, in Puerto Rico it is referred to as lady of the night, because it flowers open at night and by morning it's closed. I have one that blooms in white. They are beautiful.

Question: Advice For Night Blooming Cereus?

I have a Queen of the Night/Baby in the Manger that just bloomed tonight/morning. I have never seen that before. Awesome! My question is do you think if I cut the bloom before it closes I can keep the smell and if so how? It smells so good.


It has been my experience that you cannot keep the scent of the bloom. I have tried several methods, including placing the freshly cut bloom in the cold and dark of the refrigerator. I did this because I wanted to show the bloom to a friend later in the day. In the refrigerator, the bloom still closes within 3-4 hours and loses it's scent. What a shame.


Share on ThriftyFun Check out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this page.

Night Blooming Cereus

Look at this night blooming cactus (cereus). It began with two sprigs from my best friend, Eddie, who propagated it for me. Two years and an abundant amount of leaves/cacti, it bloomed! I photographed the cactus when the bud first appeared and continued taking the photos until the one, the absolute one bloom came. I'd like to see others' pictures.

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Lisa says

Hi I’m happy to see this topic is also on others minds!, I live in fl. And started thinking of growing nite bloomers with scent back in may/ jumne, my moonflowers didn’t grow ( I had them to l8ng before planting I guess, my four o clocks just started to bloom!! Pretty yellow & pink ones so far!, I really want some moonfl. , & nite Jasmine once again, so will be investigating when’s the best time here for moonflowers, pics. Look Beautiful of them, thank you for sharing with tips & ideas!



Mary says

Where do I find night blooming flowers

Kat says

Martha Hardison says

Thank you sooooooooooooo much for this insight. I have some four-o’clocks blooming that I got from a 92-year old friends’ yard, and have never gone out to smell them. I did not know they had a smell!! but I can assure you will be going out to smell them to night.

Linda E Allmond says

Do these night blooming flowers require sun during the day, or the moon at night? Will they grow under a very large Cedrus deodara pine?

Lee Ann Samons says

Any ideas why my moonflowers vines haven’t started blooming here at the end of August?

Dawn says

They are known to wait until late summer or fall to bloom so it’s “possible” that due to the time you planted it’s just not ready yet. The other problem could be if it is getting too much shade, they don’t bloom well unless they’re in full sunlight. If you don’t have one of those two conditions, I’m tapped out and maybe someone else has some ideas!

JJ says

I just want to make sure you know what datura is and what it can do. As beautiful as it is, I would never advertise it as a garden addition.

JJ, I am well aware of the medicinal and folkloric use of datura throughout the world. That is a different subject, and one that I would not intentionally broach here, as use of datura should be strictly overseen by a professional. To avoid its use in the garden because of its history would be a shame. The variety that grows in my garden wild, Jimson weed, is an important companion plant and beautiful to boot. It grows in both my food garden and in those areas, such as I’m writing about above, that are strictly for beauty’s sake and not for eating.

About Matt & Betsy

Matt and Betsy are passionate about living naturally and building a like-minded community focused on the sustainable lifestyle.

DIY Natural is about rediscovering the traditional value of doing things yourself, doing them naturally, and enjoying the benefits. Welcome to the movement! (read more)

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