Night Blooming Cereus: Unveiling the Secrets of Epiphyllum oxypetalum

The world of Epiphyllum is a paradise for plant enthusiasts. These houseplants are renowned for being incredibly easy to care for. However, if you’re new to the world of plant parenting or simply unfamiliar with this genus, you may have some burning questions. Don’t worry, this article is here to provide you with guidance and unlock the secrets of caring for Epiphyllum oxypetalum, also known as the Night Blooming Cereus.

Embrace the Challenge of Blooming Epiphyllum

One of the main attractions of orchid cacti is their stunning and fragrant blooms. The allure of bringing a Night Blooming Cereus into full bloom lies in the challenge it presents to plant parents. Owning this unique houseplant is not only a source of pride but also an opportunity to showcase your plant parenting skills on social media platforms like Instagram.

Decoding the Night Blooming Cereus

Night Blooming Cereus, also known as NBC, is a term used to refer to different genera of plants that share similar physical structures, bloom types, and fruit types. The most common NBC varieties include Epiphyllum oxypetalum, Hylocereus undatus (Dragon fruit), Peniocereus greggii, and Selenicereus grandiflorus. The multiple synonyms can be confusing, but it’s essential to pay attention to the botanical name when purchasing an NBC.

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Unraveling the Colors of Nature

NBC plants from different genera may vary slightly from one another. For instance, the blooms of an NBC can be creamy white, yellowish white, pinkish white, or pure snowy white. Unfortunately, determining the bloom color of your plant may take a few years unless you have observed the parent plant or purchased it from a reputable seller.

Night Blooming Cereus
Night Blooming Cereus has an unconventional growth pattern, giving it an untidy appearance.

Mastering the Art of Caring

Watering: Strike the Perfect Balance

Proper watering is crucial for the well-being of your NBC. Water deeply but only when the soil has thoroughly dried out. Use your finger to check the moisture level before watering. Ensure your planter has drainage holes and employ a fast-draining potting mix. During November to March, restrict water completely to encourage blooming in mature plants.

Light Requirements: Embrace the Sunshine

NBC thrives in bright light. However, direct sun exposure for extended periods can harm its magnificent leaves. Therefore, it’s best to provide a few hours of direct sunlight each day.

Finding the Ideal Spot in Your Home

If you want your Night Blooming Cereus to adore you forever, place it directly in an east or west-facing window. The gentle morning or afternoon light will work wonders for your plant.

Temperature Preferences: Just like Humans

Similar to most houseplants, NBC prefers the same temperature range as us humans. Although it can withstand colder temperatures, it’s wise not to subject it to anything below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. To promote blooming, ensure your NBC experiences a winter chill period with nighttime temperatures between 35 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit from November to March.

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Fertilizing: Feed with Care

Dilute fertilizer by half before applying it during spring and summer. As fall approaches, reduce or stop fertilizing, aligning with the decreased watering. Avoid fertilizing during the winter months.

Humidity: A Plant That Adapts

Night Blooming Cereus is tolerant of normal household humidity levels. It also thrives in lower humidity environments, making it an excellent choice for plant parents who don’t use humidifiers.

The Majesty of NBC Flowers

The Night Blooming Cereus boasts some of the most breathtaking flowers in the houseplant world. These cactus-like flowers are exceptionally large, opening exclusively at night and emitting a delightful fragrance. However, coaxing them into bloom can be challenging, especially if you are a novice plant parent.

Patience Rewarded: Blooming NBC

NBC plants typically bloom for the first time between the ages of 3 and 5 years. Once your plant reaches this age, you can adjust the watering and temperature during winter to encourage magnificent blooms. (For detailed watering and temperature requirements, refer to the corresponding sections of this article.)

Fungal Leaf Spot
Fungal Leaf Spot can occasionally affect NBC plants.

Pests: A Rare Encounter

Mealy bugs are commonly reported pests for this plant, with aphids, scale, and mites posing potential threats as well. Thankfully, Epiphyllum plants are generally not prone to insects, giving you peace of mind.

Disease Prevention: The Key to Health

Epiphyllum plants are relatively resistant to diseases. However, overwatering and poorly drained soil can lead to root rot or fungal leaf spots, which can adversely affect your plant’s overall health.

Pruning: Shaping Nature’s Art

The Night Blooming Cereus may develop wild and unconventional growth patterns. To maintain an attractive appearance, simply trim away any unwanted growth. While pruning, consider that older leaves are often the first to bloom, so avoid cutting mature stems if blooming is your goal.

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Propagation: Sharing the Beauty

Night Blooming Cereus is a joy to propagate. Taking cuttings is a simple and effective method. You can also use water or LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate) if that suits your preferences. Soil propagation is recommended as it has consistently yielded excellent results.

Safety First: Toxicity Concerns

According to the ASPCA, NBC plants are non-toxic to cats and dogs. However, the tough texture of the leaves and stems can present a choking hazard for young children or curious pets. So, if you have little ones or pets at home, it’s best to keep your NBC out of their reach.

If you’re interested in purchasing Night Blooming Cereus cuttings, check out the Ames Farm Center, which often has rooted cuttings available.

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Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Reference for this article:
“Logees” 2020.