The Epiphyllum oxypetalum, or the Queen of the Night, is a spell-blinding flower which is unforgettable. Some people also call it the Dutchman’s pipe cactus.
It’s one of the most popular cacti plants in the world, thanks to its night-flowering nature. It can be a little tricky to encourage this cactus to bloom.
More often than not, this plant’s flowers won’t last until sunrise, making them even more special.
Across the world, people set up cameras to record a time-lapse of these beautiful flowers unfolding, and share them with the world. Although, this can’t convey the magic of the flower in person, or its unique fragrance.
Some people throw parties when they see the Queen of the Night is about to flower. It’s a special occasion, and not to be missed if you can help it. The experience of growing plants is always magnified when you have someone to celebrate it with.
Read on to discover more about the Queen of the Night cactus, and how you can witness these gorgeous flowers for yourself.
What You Need To Know About The Queen of the Night Plant
- The cactus itself is not hardy. If you live in a zone below 10-11, consider growing the Queen of the Night indoors.
- Like several species of orchids, the Queen of the Night is an epiphyte. This means that in the wild, this plant grows on other plants, and the roots are barely in soil most of the time.
- The brilliant white flowers can grow up to 7 inches in diameter, and have a strong, sweet scent.
- The flowers come in cream, white, yellow, and pink. White is the most common.
- The cactus is native to Mexico and Southern parts of North America.
- While it’s part of the Cactaceae family, it would be a mistake to treat this plant like a normal cactus, which thrives on neglect. The conditions it needs are more like the demands of a tropical plant.
How to Grow the Queen of the Night
You can grow the Queen of the Night both inside and outside, but there are a few requirements that must be met in order for this plant to thrive.
Make Sure You Choose the Correct Position
If you’d prefer to grow this plant inside, it needs to be in bright, indirect sunlight. It will also benefit from high humidity levels, as the air inside can be too dry for it.
You can also grow the Queen of the Night outdoors.
If you do choose outside, keep it in a pot. This ensures that if the conditions are right, you’ll be able to move the plant without disturbing the roots or causing the plant to go into shock.
In outdoor conditions, this plant needs partial shade. Don’t forget, epiphytes are plants which grow on other plants, which usually means they are under some form of cover.
The Queen of the Night and Frost
Like most cacti, the Queen of the Night cannot survive frost. If you live somewhere colder, you’ll need to bring the plant inside, far away from any drafts which could affect it.
You could also provide it with winter protection outside, but this is generally trickier, especially if you live somewhere that gets very, very cold winters.
The Right Soil for the Queen of the Night Plant
This plant is very picky when it comes to soil. It needs to be moist at all times, but not so waterlogged that the roots rot. You can grow it in cactus soil, orchid bark, or even sphagnum moss.
The plant also thrives in humidity.
When You Should Water Queen of the Night
Watering depends on the plant’s age, and how well the soil retains moisture. Any soil drying out completely can harm or even kill a Queen of the Night cactus.
You’ll need to check every week at the very least to see if this plant could do with another drink, especially in summer. In winter, they can go as far as 2-3 weeks between watering.
If the plant is young, it will require more water, but it will also be easier to overwater it.
The Flowers of the Queen of the Night Cactus
The most famous part of this cactus, is of course, the flowers.
As any person who owns cacti will tell you, flowers are rarer on cacti and are produced less frequently than on other plants, especially if you live somewhere colder.
Some people haven’t seen their Queen of the Night flower at all, but that just means it will be all the more special when it does.
The white bloom this plant produces has a spider-like quality, and the petals are very delicate.
In order to encourage this plant to bloom, it’s best to mimic its natural growing conditions, so it has a better grasp of the seasons and when it should flower.
Queen of the Night Pests
You’ve got the soil right. You’ve got the conditions down. The light is right. But something is still affecting your cactus.
Fungal leaf spots are the main culprit when it comes to what could be affecting a Queen of the Night.
More often than not, this will occur during spring, and you can cut off the affected leaves to stop the fungus spreading to the rest of the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will a Queen of the Night Flower Bloom?
Like the name suggests, flowers will only appear at night. Buds will start to unfurl at 8pm, and could take a while to unfold completely. Some will last all the way through until 10am.
Can You Grow a Queen of the Night Plant in a Container?
The Queen of the Night cactus is much easier to grow when it is in a container. You can control the conditions more readily, including the soil and how much water to give them.
You can also plant them in hanging baskets for a very unusual display, which will be made unique when the Queen of the Night finally flowers.
How Do You Propagate a Queen of the Night Plant?
The easiest way to propagate a Queen of the Night is to cut the leaves. Choose a couple of mature leaves – the older, the safer the bet – and let them dry somewhere cool away from moisture.
Let them rest until calluses form over the open wounds. This will help stop disease, and the plant is less likely to rot when you water it.
Put some soil into a pot that has good drainage holes, and pop the cuttings inside, wounded end pointing towards the floor. Put it somewhere bright, but not where direct sunlight can kill it.
Don’t let the soil dry out. Give it some water every week or so, and soon enough you’ll start to see these leaves change.
Once they start to grow – or you notice something different – put it in a slightly brighter position, to speed up its progress.
Where Can You Grow a Queen of the Night Plant?
You can grow a Queen of the Night both outside and inside. So long as you protect it from pests, from drought, overwatering, and direct sunlight, it will be happy in either.
It’s possible to get the plant to bloom both outdoors and indoors.
Is a Queen of the Night Plant Toxic?
No. the Queen of the Night is not toxic, and it’s often been used as a dried flower to flavor culinary dishes.
Although the requirements for this plant seem a little steep, once you have the basics down, this plant will eventually reward you with an unforgettable display of color and fragrance.
It’s also interesting in that this plant is relatively easy to look after, but the flowers are unpredictable, making them that much more special.