If you are one of those people who like planting unusual and exotic plants like outdoor purple succulents that Epiphyllum oxypetalum, also known as Queen of the Night, is exactly what you are looking for. It is often called Night Blooming Cereus. This plant is known for its rare and incredibly beautiful blossom.
The flower itself is indeed magical and very fragrant. It is hard to make this plant bloom, but it is for sure worth an effort. This article will tell you how to take care of this gorgeous plant and how to make it bloom.
What Is Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum or ‘Queen Of The Night’ is one of the most popular and well-known species for epiphyllum worldwide. The motherland of this beautiful plant is Southern Mexico and some areas of South America. It is mainly grown in households, but this plant is known as an epiphytic plant in its natural habitat. It means that Epiphyllum Oxypetalum grows on the surface of other bigger plants.
However, despite this, it is not a sort of parasite. This plant doesn’t draw energy, nutrients, and water from other plants but gets it from the surrounding environment.
The most well-known thing about this plant is its beautiful white flowers that have an incredibly sweet fragrance. Those flowers can be pretty big, but it can be hard to see them. The reason is that they bloom only at night and for a pretty short period of time. Moreover, it is rather hard to make this plant bloom. The rarity of Epiphyllum Oxypetalum flowers and their beauty are the main reasons for their popularity.
Benefits Of Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
This beautiful plant can offer you numerous reasons why you should grow it. Don’t believe it? Let’s take a look at the list of benefits of growing Epiphyllum Oxypetalum.
The plant itself grows pretty fast and doesn’t require much effort. In other words, it won’t take you long to grow a plant from a seed. However, the challenge starts when it comes to making it bloom.
Exotic and Beautiful Flowers
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum flowers are really breathtaking. If you take proper care of this plant, it will reward you with big, tender white flowers. It is an opportunity to see this very rare and magical flower without going to the rainforests of South America.
Reason to Be Proud
As we mentioned before, this plant is hard to make bloom, so if you succeed in it, you have each and every reason to be proud of yourself and your planting skills.
How Does Epiphyllum Oxypetalum Work
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is one of the most incredible indoor flowers that you can place on your windowsill. However, the plant can also be grown outdoors, but in this case, it can be a bit harder to make it grow and bloom as you have less control over the environment.
It is very important to have as much control over the environment as possible when it comes to this cactus, especially if you want to make it bloom. Only when you provide this plant with the required amount of water, nutrients, and energy will reward you with sweet, fragrant flowers. As we mentioned before, it may take you more effort to take care of this plant but believe us, it worth your time as the plant for sure knows how to reward you for your effort.
It is one of the most popular plants around experienced gardeners as it is an opportunity to test their skills.
Pros and Cons of Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
- Epiphyllum Oxypetalum is a fast-growing plant.
- It can be grown outdoors and indoors.
- It is one of the air purifying succulents that benefit your health.
- It has very rare and very beautiful flowers that you can see if you take proper care of.
- Epiphyllum Oxypetalum is hard to take care of.
- It may take you lots of time and effort to make this plant bloom.
- Flowers bloom only for a short time and only at night, so it can be hard to catch them.
Requirement for Growing Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
When it comes to lighting Epiphyllum Oxypetalum prefers bright places, but there should be no direct sunlight as it is not among succulents that tolerate full sunlight. Southern windows are the best option for this plant. While being a cactus family plant, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum doesn’t like a very hot climate, and somewhere around 100℉ (38℃) or above is an ideal temperature for it. The reason is that it is more of a tropical plant than a desert one. Actually, the preferable temperature for this plant ranges from 50 to 90℉ (10-32℃) degrees.
If you place it on a southern window, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum can get about 6 hours of sunlight and the temperature will be good enough to make it comfortable and not burn the plant.
When it comes to the outdoor environment and especially sunlight, it becomes harder to manage it. It especially applies to those plants that are planted right in the ground. However, if it is planted in a container or a pot, you have an option to move it around so you can avoid direct sunlight. Also, it will let you make sure that the temperature is no more than 100℉ (38℃) by placing it in a place with more shadow.
However, when it comes to Epiphyllum Oxypetalum planted right in the ground, you may need to use some extra things like bedsheets, umbrellas, and so on to protect your plants from the direct sunlight.
It’s not like the plant cannot completely stand some rather cold weather, but temperatures below 35℉ (1.7℃) can damage your Epiphyllum Oxypetalum significantly. Of course, if you have it planted in a pot, you can always bring it inside to protect it from cold weather. However, you still need to make sure there are no drafty areas as it can be rather hard for your plant. Actually, you should consider bringing your Epiphyllum Oxypetalum inside as soon as the temperature drops to 40℉ (4.5℃).
Speaking of those flowers planted right in the ground, you need to cover them when it gets cold to protect them. For this purpose, you can use an old blanket or frost cloths. Don’t forget to use some support structure to ensure that the cover doesn’t touch the plant directly, as it can damage your cactus.
When it comes to choosing soil, you should give preference to high-quality draining soil for potted plants. You can always ask a shop assistant in your local gardening store for some piece of advice.
As an option, you can make DIY succulent soil with excellent water-draining capacity. To do it, you need to combine equal parts of arts peat moss and ground fir bark to make a base for future soil. After it, you need to add one part of coarse sand to two parts of your base mixture. Make sure to mix everything properly. Also, keep in mind that you need to use coarse sand as fine one can make your mixture muddy.
One way to make good soil is to mix two parts of a regular potting soil with one orchid chip and one part of pumice. The last one will help you to loosen up the soil so the water can drain properly. All these ingredients you can easily find in your local garden store or order online.
Make sure to water your plant before the soil is completely dry. If the soil is too dry, the roots of your cactus will have no opportunity to develop and can damage a plant itself. As we mentioned before, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum is more of a tropical plant, so it requires some moisture regularly.
If you water your cactus properly, its roots will be developing and growing much better. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to water every 20 minutes as too much water may have the opposite effect. That is why you need to make sure that water is drained properly.
During the summer, it is better to water your Epiphyllum Oxypetalum every seven days. During spring and fall periods, you can reduce it to one watering every 10-14 days, while during the winter, it will be enough to water it once every 14-21 days. Also, keep in mind that younger plants need to be watered more often than older ones.
When it comes to fertilization, there are actually several options that are suitable for Epiphyllum Oxypetalum. You can either use some organic matter or 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer designed for houseplants or choose any fertilizer with low nitrogen content. Don’t forget to dilute your fertilizer to make sure there is no excess nitrogen.
It is better to start using fertilizer in the spring and take a break after the fall. During the growing period, you need to fertilize your cactus every 28 days or after 4 waterings. You can reduce it to one fertilization per 6 waterings during the spring and fall.
Also, keep in mind that it is better to give preference to fertilizers that are designed specifically for cactuses. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot use other options. Moreover, it is better to change your fertilizer during the blooming period and prefer potassium-based options. Finally, make sure to pre-water the plant before using fertilizer to avoid damaging roots and burning leaves.
Common Issues With Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
As we mentioned before, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum is not an easy plant to grow and there are several issues you may face on the way. Below, we described each of those issues to provide you with a better understanding of them.
When it comes to Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, one of the biggest issues is roots rotting. If you observe such symptoms as softened growth, stem collapse, and yellow bottom leaves, there is a big chance that the roots of your plant rot. In this case, you need to take your plant out of a pot and take a good look at the roots. If they are mushy and have brown color while the soil around them is soggy, it means that the plant is over-watered and the roots started to rot.
Failed Leaf or Stem Cuttings
Amateur gardeners often have issues with failed leaf and/or stem cutting. As a result, they damage their plants or leave too small vines that impact the growth of a plant. While it is not so hard to propagate tropical cacti, there are still many people who struggle with it. It usually leads to numerous issues as the size of vines influences the growth of the plant. Also, damaged leaves can significantly reduce the chances of rooting.
Exposure to Too Much Sunlight
If you leave your plant under the sunlight for too long, the leaves may become slightly red. While Queen of the Night Cacti prefers areas with a few hours of sunlight but non-acclimated, young plants can get sun-scorch even if you leave it for a little longer than two hours under the sunlight. You need to increase the amount of sunlight gradually to built its tolerance to the lighting.
Lack of Flowers
Your plant may lack flowers because of its immaturity or a dormancy period during the winter months. Your plant may need about 3-6 years to reach maturity so it can bloom. Also, your plant may have issues with blooming because of the environment. For example, if there is relatively the same temperature all year round, your plant cannot go dormant and as a result, it gets exhausted and becomes harder to bloom.
To help your plant develop a bud, you need to place it in an area with a temperature of around 12°C (54°F). Also, make sure to reduce watering. The best time to do it is during the winter months.
When it comes to watering, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum tends to be really sensitive. That is why you need to give preference to lukewarm, filtered water. If you use tap water, make sure that you let it stand for about 24 hours or more. If you use cold water, it may damage the roots and lead to yellowish leaves, growth issues, and flower loss.
How to Grow Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
Step 1 – Prepare leaves
To grow this cactus, you need to cut several mature leaves and place them in a cool, dry place. Ensure that the cut leaves’ length is no less than 4-6 inches (10-15cm) long. When the cuttings dry a little and form calluses, they are ready to plant.
Step 2 – Use rooting hormone
It is not absolutely required, but still, it can help your plant root and propagate if you decide to use it, just deep the cuttings in that hormone.
Step 3 – Prepare the soil
As we mentioned before, Epiphyllum Oxypetalum requires a special soil mixture that should be well-draining to avoid overwatering your plant as succulents are sensitive to overwatering. Take a pot or a container with drain holes and put the soil there. Keep in mind that the pot shouldn’t be too big.
Step 4 – Plant the cuttings
Place your cuttings with the callused ends in the soil and place the pot in the place with no direct sunlight. Don’t forget to water it every 7 days or more frequently if the soil becomes dry.
Step 5 – Let cutting form roots
Leave the cuttings till they form roots. To check if the roots are forming, you can tug cuttings slightly. If you feel some resistance, it means that the roots are growing properly. Usually, the plant needs at least 2 weeks to form roots.
Step 6 – Keep your plant in the right place
As soon as your plant is rooted properly, you need to move it to a bright area with no direct sunlight to avoid burning it.
When it comes to further care, there is no need to re-pot the plant frequently. It can be moved to a new pot once in about two years. If you re-pot it too often, it may prevent Epiphyllum Oxypetalum from forming buds and blooming. When it is re-poted, make sure to give some rest to your plant and take proper care of it so the roots can recover. Also, consider repotting newly-bought succulents and don’t forget about the necessary tools for transplanting succulents.
Do’s and Don’ts With Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
- Use proper soil mixture that is well-draining.
- Follow the watering plan properly.
- Allow your plant to rest during the winter.
- Make sure to cover it from the sun and cold if it grows outdoors.
- Never water your plant too often.
- Don’t let the soil dry completely.
- Don’t leave the plant under direct sunlight.
- Don’t keep your plant in too hot areas.
- Never leave it under the light for more than 6 hours per day.
Quick Tips to Make Your Epiphyllum Oxypetalum Bloom
- Make sure to place the plant in the area with little or even better no sunlight and make sure not to place it in completely shady places as while black succulents can live under the shade, this one needs more sun.
- As soon as the top part of the soil dries, water your plant, and keep in mind that you need to reduce watering from fall to spring.
- If your plant is located not far from the heat source, use a pebble tray to keep an appropriate humidity level.
- Don’t forget to fertilize your plant using fertilizers designed specifically for cactus or houseplants.
- Fertilize the plant once every for watering during the warm months and reduce it to every six waterings during the cold months.
- Make sure to examine your plant for pests regularly.
- Don’t forget about keeping the temperature of the environment at 10℃ (50℉) degrees minimum.
- Move your plant into a new bigger pot every 2-3 years.
FAQ About Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
How often does Queen of the Night bloom?
Epiphyllum Oxypetalum usually blooms during warm months. The blooming period starts in May or June and lasts till October. Sometimes, it can finish later, depending on the environment. Also, to bloom, the plant needs to be mature enough, which means it needs to be at least 2 years old. One other point is that the blooming itself lasts for a concise period of time.
The plant has a beautiful star-shaped white flower with a sweet fragrance. This delicate flower usually consists of about 25-30 linear petals. When it comes to size, the flower can be pretty big and reach about 6 inches or 15cm in diameter.
It is hard to catch the flower blooming as it starts to open somewhere around 9 pm and reaches its peak at about 2 am. Right before dawn, the flower closes completely in a short period of time.
To make it bloom, you need to make sure that the environment is absolutely comfortable for the plant. It means it needs to be absolutely controllable. If your plant is potted, there are more chances it will bloom. Also, you need to make sure you let the plant cool down during the winter.
How long does it take for Epiphyllum to bloom?
It is not hard to grow Epiphyllum Oxypetalum from seed, but it’s harder to keep it growing and especially to make it bloom. If you decide to plant succulent seeds, they will be ready to bloom in about five years. Propagated plants may need about 2-3 years.
Where does Epiphyllum Oxypetalum grow?
The native habitat of this plant in South America and Southern Mexico specifically. While being a popular household plant that is grown in a pot, in its natural habitat, it grows on the surface of other plants.
Is Epiphyllum Oxypetalum flower rare?
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a cactus that is often grown in households. While the plant itself is very popular, its flowers are pretty rare. Moreover, it is impossible to pick the flower without damaging it.
Why does Epiphyllum Oxypetalum bloom at night?
There is no certain answer to this question as it is a mystery. Some specialists claim that the reason is that the plant is self-fertile and cross-pollination is required.
Is Epiphyllum Oxypetalum poisonous?
There is no proof of this statement. On the contrary, it is known for its healing properties among tribes that live in rainforests where this plant grows. It is not listed in the group of toxic and dangerous succulents for your pets.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a challenging plant to grow and requires some skills. However, it is for sure worth your time and effort. The flower is very beautiful and incredible, so that it can be the biggest reward for your efforts.
If you want to grow this plant in your household, you need to follow all the required steps and it shows you its gratitude by blooming with stunning white flowers and sweet fragrance. Also, you should consider growing the world’s best hanging succulents or one of the premium cacti for beginners.
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