The Queen of the Night flower, also known as Epiphyllum oxypetalum, is a stunning and unique plant that is native to Central and South America that belongs to the night-blooming Cereus family of cactus (Cactaceae family). Its large, fragrant, white flowers bloom only at night, making it a popular choice for night gardens and moon gardens.
This stunning night-bloomer is often called the ‘orchid cactus’ due to its delicate and intricate blooms. But don’t be intimidated by this plant’s exotic appearance – with proper care, it can be a wonderful addition to any garden.
Although this plant only blooms once a year, it is very easy to grow! But if you don’t keep an eye out during spring, you may miss out on its blooming fragrant flower. Some may think that this plant’s blooming time is the challenging part of growing this plant, but it’s not!
Interestingly, the Queen of the Night flower has a fascinating pollination process. The plant is pollinated by nocturnal animals, such as bats and moths. The flowers open at night and emit a sweet fragrance that attracts these animals. The animals then transfer pollen from one flower to another, allowing the plant to reproduce.
These plants proliferate and make great houseplants and even outdoor plants if they’re correctly handled.
Through my years of cultivating the Queen of the Night, I’ve come to understand the importance of maintaining a suitable environment. I keep a watchful eye on temperature and humidity levels, mimicking its native tropical habitat.
I make sure to protect it from frost during colder months and provide a gentle misting or place a tray of water nearby to create a humid microclimate, replicating the ideal conditions it craves. Read on to learn exactly how to grow and care for queen of the night plants according to a master gardener!
Botanical Name: Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Common Name: Queen of the Night, Lady of the Night, orchid cacti, leaf cactus, climbing cacti, Dutchman’s pipe cactus
Plant Type: Evergreen, cactus
Hardiness Zones: 10 – 11 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Partial shade
Soil Type: Well-drained
Soil pH: 5.5 – 6.5 (Acidic)
Height: 2 to 10 feet tall
Bloom Time: Spring, summer
Flower Colors: Red, white, yellow, orange, purple, pink
Native Area: Central and South America
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Queen of the Night Flower
- This plant needs at least 6 hours of bright indirect sunlight, and a south-facing window is best for this indoor orchid cactus.
- While Queen of the Night flower may appear delicate, it is a resilient plant and can tolerate periods of drought, and does not require frequent watering.
- This plant thrives best in normal humidity levels at most homes and prefers temperatures between 68 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fertilization is incredibly important to make sure your queen of the night flower blooms.
Queen of the Night Flower Care
Queen of the night flower hails from southern Mexico and the tropical rainforest of South and Central America. Mature plants can grow up to 10 feet tall outdoors. This is a tropical succulent genus often called climbing cacti or orchid cacti.
In its natural habitat, the Queen of the Night typically grows as an epiphyte, nestled within the branches of trees. As your Night Queen grows, you will see that it sends out many long shoots. These are long stems that cling to nearby trees and allow them to grow together in the wild.
The stem, also known as dung, has a small root-like structure that helps in the plant’s ability to support other plants. Thanks to these stems, plants are able to move across the canopy in search of better light.
Over dozens of species and associated hybrids of varying shapes, colors, and sizes exist. They usually have flat, long, non spiny trailing stems. With proper care, they showcase bright, fragrant, and night-blooming flowers in the spring and summer months.
In the wild, their plants grow on trunks or branches rather than developing roots on the ground floor. They absorb the nutrients and moisture they need from the humid environment surrounding them.
In an outdoor landscape, the trailing stems of the queen of the night flower look good in hanging baskets. Despite their common name, this plant does not enjoy dry air and full sun like other cacti species.
This plant does best in shady, warm, and humid spots replicating their tropical forest habitat, making them a great easy-to-grow bathroom plant.
Unless you can offer your queen of the night plant mild temperatures, humidity, dappled sunlight, and an excellent porous potting mix, it’s best to stick with growing it indoors.
This plant likes similar conditions to bromeliads and orchids. When grown outdoors, they should have ample air circulation and sufficient protection from strong winds.
Like most plants, the queen of the night cactus needs light to grow. Direct sunlight in the morning is essential for it to bloom, though it should be kept indirect light afterward.
This plant needs at least 6 hours of bright indirect sunlight, and a south-facing window is best for this indoor orchid cactus. If you choose to grow this plant outdoors, it should be placed in a dappled shade where it can receive enough morning sun.
The queen of the night plant grows well if it’s provided with the right soil type. This plant needs well-drained and airy soil that can hold moisture and is slightly acidic with a pH of around 5.5 to 6.5.
Make sure to avoid dry soil at all costs. Apart from the mentioned requirements, you can step up your soil game by adding peat moss, perlite, and orchid bark mix. You can also opt for sandy soil.
While Queen of the Night flower may appear delicate, it is a resilient plant and can tolerate periods of drought, and does not require frequent watering.
During its active growing season, I keep a watchful eye on the top two inches of the soil, waiting for it to dry out before giving it a thorough watering. When potted, you’ll need to water slowly, wait for the water to flow out from the bottom, and then pour the excess from the tray to avoid water accumulation.
Water once or twice during the growing season in spring and summer. And water less during fall and winter -keep the soil from drying out. Choose rainwater or distilled water over tap water as it contains mineral salts that can sauce soil compaction.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant is distributed throughout semi-desert, tropical, and subtropical regions with intense sunlight, scarce rainfall, and hot temperatures.
This plant’s ideal temperature for growth is 68 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower than 50ºF or higher than 95ºF slows the plant’s growth, and dormancy begins. Make sure to avoid placing it in ventilated areas where drafts occur.
The queen of the night flower thrives best in normal humidity levels at most homes. If your home’s humidity ranges between 40-50%, you can grow it indoors.
If you live in a dry climate, consider placing it on a tray of pebbles filled with water to increase humidity levels. You can also mist the plant regularly to provide additional moisture.
This is mostly recommended if the air at home is too dry, but humidity is not a common problem while growing this night cactus.
Fertilization is critical in ensuring that your Queen of the Night flower blooms. Fertilize once a month during the active growing season.
Use phosphate-potassium fertilizer before and after blooming and nitrogen fertilizer during seedling. The fertilizer concentration should always be as low as possible. Applying low-concentrate fertilizer several times would be best instead of using a high concentration.
If the base grows slowly and is yellow, it may be a sign of too much fertilizer, and fertilization should be stopped immediately.
This plant requires only a little pruning. Removing white flowers and branches should promote healthy growth. You can prune it annually after the plant blooms. It’ll help remove any yellow leaves, dead flowers, or stems and shape the plant properly.
When pruning, use clean, sharp pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant. You can also propagate the plant by taking stem cuttings and rooting them in water or soil.
How to Plant and Grow Queen of the Night Flower
How to Propagate Queen of the Night Flower
If you’re looking to grow your own Queen of the Night plant, propagation through cuttings is a simple and effective method.
The primary propagation method for the queen of the night flower is division. Here’s how to create new plants:
Step 1: Cutting the Stem
The first step in propagating your Queen of the Night plant is to cut a stem from the parent plant. Choose a stem that is about 4-6 inches long and has no flowers or buds.
It’s important to use a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears to make the cut. This will ensure that the stem is not damaged and has the best chance of developing roots.
Step 2: Preparing the Cutting
Once you have cut the stem, it’s time to prepare it for planting. Remove any leaves from the bottom half of the stem. This will help to prevent any rotting or fungal growth.
Next, dip the cut end of the stem into rooting hormone. This will encourage the stem to develop roots once it is planted. Place it in a cool dark place for the next couple of days, allowing it to callus.
Step 3: Planting the Cutting
After preparing the cutting, it’s time to plant it in a potting mix. Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the stem and fill it with a well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix.
Make a hole in the potting mix and gently place the stem into the hole. Firmly press the potting mix around the stem to ensure that it is secure.
Step 4: Caring for the Cutting
Once you have planted the cutting, it’s important to take good care of it. Water the cutting sparingly, as overwatering can cause the stem to rot. Do not water the plant for the next two weeks until it settles
Keep the cutting in a warm, humid area, as this will encourage root development. You can cover the cutting with a plastic bag to create a mini greenhouse and help to maintain the humidity levels.
Once it has settled, continue with regular care.
How to Pot or Repot Queen of the Night Flower
When it comes to potting and repotting Queen of the Night, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, it is important to only repot the plant when it has outgrown its current container. Repotting too often can actually harm the plant, so it is best to wait until it is truly necessary.
When you do decide to repot your Queen of the Night, it is important to choose the right type of container. A well-draining pot with plenty of drainage holes is essential, as this will help prevent the risk of root rot. You should also choose a pot that is slightly larger than the current one, to give the plant room to grow.
Before repotting your Queen of the Night, it is important to water it thoroughly. This will help loosen the roots and make them easier to work with.
Carefully remove the plant from its current container and gently loosen the roots. Place the plant in the new pot and fill in the gaps with the potting mix, making sure to firm it down gently.
After repotting, it is important to give your Queen of the Night some time to adjust to its new surroundings. Water it sparingly for the first few weeks, and avoid fertilizing until the plant has settled in.
With the right care and attention, your Queen of the Night will continue to thrive and bloom for years to come.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Queen of the Night Flower
The Queen of the Night flower is a unique and exotic plant that can add a touch of elegance to any garden or indoor space. While it is not commonly attacked by pests, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and diseases that can affect the plant.
Mealybugs and spider mites are two common pests that can harm the Queen of the Night flower. These pests can cause the plant to wilt and the leaves to curl, which can be detrimental to the health and appearance of the plant.
To prevent these pests from attacking your plant, it is important to maintain proper hygiene and regularly inspect the plant for any signs of infestation.
In addition to pests, several diseases can also affect the Epiphyllum oxypetalum. Anthracnose, powdery mildew, and stem rot are three common diseases that can impact the health and growth of the plant.
To prevent these diseases, it is important to practice good care habits, including proper watering techniques and regular fertilization.
Queen of the Night Flower Common Problems
There are some common issues encountered by people who grow queen of the night flower. If some of these issues are ignored, they could potentially kill the plant, so it’s better to know about these common problems beforehand so you’ll be able to handle them and treat your plant correctly.
Their nitrogen levels should be appropriate to ensure that your queen of the night flower plant blooms, as an excess of this mineral results in lesser blooms. H
arsh direct sunlight can also affect this plant’s blooming. If none is the problem, you can try fertilizing your plant in spring or fall and add banana peels as well.
Check the potting or soil medium. Coarse textures let the water drain rapidly, preventing the plant from taking enough in. If the soil and roots look dry, you can add sphagnum moss or another medium that holds water and water accordingly to the plant’s recommendations.
Natural aging can cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow and even dry out; if this is the case, nothing can be done to stop the process. A nutrient deficiency can also cause yellow leaves; luckily, several ways exist to treat nutrient deficiencies.
You can use a water-soluble fertilizer, which includes most macro and micronutrients. Apply organic fertilizer pellets such as animal manure and bonemeal. Or add nutrient-rich compost.
Queen of the Night Flower Toxicity
The queen of the night flower is non-poisonous, making it kid and pet friendly. Although, if large quantities are eaten, gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite can occur.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.