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Lady of the Night Epiphyllum oxypetalum

Previously known as:

  • Cereus greggii
  • Cereus latifrons
  • Cereus oxypetalus
  • Cereus pottsii
  • Epiphyllum acuminatum
  • Epiphyllum grande
  • Epiphyllum latifrons
  • Epiphyllum purpussi
  • Phyllocactus acuminatus
  • Phyllocactus grandis
  • Phyllocactus latifrons
  • Phyllocactus oxypetalus
  • Phyllocactus purpusii
Phonetic Spelling
ep-ih-FE-lum ks-ee-PET-al-um
Description

Queen of the Night is a night-blooming, tropical epiphyte to lithophyte, an organism that grows on the surface of another plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from rain, the air and debris collecting on the organism.  This member of the cactus family is the most cultivated species in the genus.  It has huge, showy, very fragrant white flowers that open only once, at night and are typically only last that one night.  If pollinated, the flowers are followed by 5" long, oblong, purple/red fruits.

This cactus grows in a rainforest setting rather than a hot dry location so will need more water than most cacti. In its native habitat, it is usually found growing on trees, but it can easily be grown in a pot. There are no true leaves, but flattened stems that can be easily rooted. A mature plant can produce flowers from spring through mid-summer.

Give this plant a well-drained average succulent/cactus soil mix in partial shade or bright, indirect light. Soak the soil completely when watering and water frequently, letting the top of the soil dry out between watering. Bring inside when temperatures cool to mid 30s and cut down on watering during the winter to 1-2 times per month.

It can be grown as an outdoor tropical plant in zones 10 and 11.  In cooler zones it can be placed outdoors during the summer months, then brought in as the temperatures drop.  

Growing up to 10' tall and 3' wide, when growing in a container, ensure that the plant remains stable in its container.  Should it become top-heavy, trimming the long stems back can serve as a solution as well as repotting into a larger or heavier container.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No significant problems

VIDEO Created by Laura Barth for "Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti", a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#weeping#fragrant#arching#evergreen#fragrant flowers#houseplant#perennials#white flowers#succulent#epiphytic#climbing#hanging baskets#disease resistant#bats#nighttime garden#large flowers#night-flowering#long lifespan#edible fruits#cactus#indoor#humidity tolerant#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#tropical#container plant#hsc#hsc-c#greenhouse plant#nocturnal
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#weeping#fragrant#arching#evergreen#fragrant flowers#houseplant#perennials#white flowers#succulent#epiphytic#climbing#hanging baskets#disease resistant#bats#nighttime garden#large flowers#night-flowering#long lifespan#edible fruits#cactus#indoor#humidity tolerant#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#tropical#container plant#hsc#hsc-c#greenhouse plant#nocturnal
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Epiphyllum
    Species:
    oxypetalum
    Family:
    Cactaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used in herbal medicine esp. in Asia and Idia
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    S. Mexico, Central America
    Wildlife Value:
    Large flowers pollinated by bats.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Easy to Grow
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Edibility:
    The fruits are edible.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Succulent
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Climbing
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Weeping
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10b, 10a, 11b, 11a, 12b, 12a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    A bright magenta fruit similar to pitaya/dragonfruit. The inner flesh is white and contains small black seeds. It is oblong and angled, up to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. Fruits are rarely produced.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Radial
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Huge, showy, white flowers with fragrant blooms. The sepals may be yellowish or pinkish. They grow on long floral tubes that emerge from the cladode margins. They bloom only at night annually for only one night, each flower lasting a few hours.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Fleshy
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    No true leaves but flattened stems with crenate and wavy margins. See stem information.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    What appears to be leaves are cladodes, long, flattened stems that function like a leaf. They are eliptic with undulate or crenate margins. The stems can reach lengths of up to 20 feet long. The flowers grow from the margins of these stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Hanging Baskets
    Houseplants
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Design Feature:
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bats
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases
    Heat
    Humidity