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How do you make a Night Blooming Cereus bloom?

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

I have a night blooming cereus in both FL and AR. The one in AR winters in our sunroom and the one in FL winters in our home. Both are taken outside in the summer and are watered via automatic sprinklers. I know this plant blooms, as this is my grandmother's plant and I saw it bloom years ago. Also, I found photos that my brother had taken after he brought the plant to Florida. Unfortunately, I am the last of the family and don't have anyone to ask what they did to it.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Hi JeanK, I'm new to NBC, being a lucky recipient of such lovely cuttings last year. So technically I'm a newbie myself. Here is the forum that you would more likely find more help with seasoned growers of NBC and their related species. Good lucks.
Kim
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/f/episetc/all/




Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi jeank, to y knowledge, these plants very rarely flower in pots, your right that when they do flower, it is at night as the moths, bats and other night feeding insects pollinate them and feed off the pollen, they flower in June/July when really large, but that is normally too big for a pot plant or indoor plant. wish I could help you more. but who knows, this I am told are difficult to grow seem to do great, but easy to grow, well that's another story eh. Good luck. WeeNel.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I have kept these for years and never saw a bloom. They would grow large and unmanageable and I would tire of them. Last summer I left them sitting outside, in bright light, receiving an occasional shower but neglecting watering them. To my surprise I found quite a few buds, then blooms in late Sept.

One Epi grower suggested stirring cut up banana peels into the top soil. They are a high potassium fertilizer which should help with blooms. I am trying that for next year... but maybe I just got lucky...

You will have to pay attention as they only bloom one night and only at night. Well were worth the wait. Yes, mine are in pots.

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Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Podster, you might be right! I call this "Benign Neglect," and I think I will try it. My husband and I were talking about this plant the other day and we figured that it is probably between 75 and 100 years old! When we found it at my brother's, it had been sitting behind the house, perhaps for a couple of years as he had been ill for sometime and obviously had not tended to it. In fact, my husband was about to throw "that scrawny ugly thing away" when I realized what it was. I took a cutting to AR and it stays outside during the summer, and has become just as "scrawny and ugly" as it's mother plant! I also found photos that my brother had taken about 15 years ago when it bloomed and two of his friends told me that they had been invited over for the evening to watch it bloom. As long as I can remember it has also been in a pot, as it would freeze in AR. This plant has also traveled around. Came from NC to VA to FL to AR! Maybe it's just tired from all that traveling!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I do think that might be the answer. Worth a try. I really don't overfertilize but will report on the banana peels if successful. Good luck.

Santa Rosa Beach, FL

i live in the fla panhandle. someone gave me cuttings 6 years ago. all i did was pot them in cactus soil and water them when i think of it or rain takes care of it. for 5 years now i have 10 to 50 blooms from june thru nov. the one that blooms the most has been in the same pot for 4 years and this is the one i cut from to share with friends!

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Thanks for all the good advice. I will try the banana peels. I also think when I take my Florida plant out next spring, I will try to find a sunnier spot for it. Where I have been keeping it is pretty shady. The one in AR is an offspring of my "old lady" in FL and it is in a sunnier spot. In fact, I was even wondering if it was too sunny. Seems to like where it is and looks healthy enough, with lots of growth. I read somewhere that if you want to keep the plant compact, just snip off those long shoots that keep coming up at the spot where you want them to stop growing, and they will begin to spread out. I tend to let well enough alone, as I have been referred to by my husband as a Plant Murderer! Don't want to get that reputation around all of you successful gardeners.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I hated these gangly plants till I read in a Cacti and Succulents by Terry Hewitt book to prune them. It will make them bushier and more compact. They recommend using some of the prunings to make new plants. They say the parent plant will become woody and recommend replacing it with a new plant from the cuttings. By the way the recommendation is to prune after blooming. I believe these only bloom on new growth. When you prune, you will see the leaf veins. Make an angled cut just above and parallel to the vein that feeds the new shoot.

Good luck, hope to see you post your blooms later this summer! pod

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

The first thing I do when we return from a trip is to go out in the yard and see how my plants are doing. The thing I DIDN'T EXPECT was to see the spent bloom on my night blooming cereus. I had missed it by only one or two days. The bud I had last year (which fell off) had appeared in the late fall. The next time we leave home, I will be sure to give it a good talking to and tell it to please wait to bloom until we return!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

JeanK, lol. Hope you'll catch the next bloom, and post picture to share.
Kim

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Hi Kim, Fortunately, I don't think we will have long to wait for another bloom. Yesterday afternoon on my afternoon walk-through, I decided to take a real close look at my Queen of the Night plants (I have two of them), and what should I find hiding under one of the leaves of my other plant was a huge bud! Believe me, I will be on watch every night until I see it bloom, even though it means walking outside among the chiggers!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

I've a few young ones, thus for now I'm camping out to share your joy. Please do share when you see them. Thank you.
Kim

Waterman, IL(Zone 5a)

I had a night blooming cactus for many years. It was a house plant and an ugly thing most of the year. When I knew it was going to bloom, I'd have a dinner party so we could watch and smell the beautiful flowers open. One thing I remember about this plant, is that it needs several hours of darkness, like a poinsettia, before it will set flowers. I kept it on our screened-in front porch in the summer and didn't turn the light on in the evening. By August it would bloom only a couple flowers, but worth the wait.

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Hi Pastime -- Spent 35 years in Illinois, the first four of our marriage in Cortland while my husband attended NIU -- thought this southern gal would freeze to death there! Then moved to Wheaton for the remaining 31 years. Wish this plant could spend the summers in our sunroom, however, due to traveling, have to take it outdoors so it can be watered and cared for by Mother Nature. The dinner party is a great idea, however, since this is my first time with a bloom and only one, I would probably get the timing wrong! The last time I saw one of these bloom was when I was about 7 years old and actually, this plant is a descendant of one that has been passed down through the family since my grandmother's time. We figure that was about 100 years ago!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Pastime, JeanK made me wonder... how do you time the dinner party just right??!? With my luck ~ well you know! LOL

Waterman, IL(Zone 5a)

We invited friends over who didn't mind last minute invitations (like the day of). The bud was so big I knew it was going to open that night. There were two other buds on the plant, so my chances were good. We ate on the front porch in candelight. There was just the four of us. The fragrance was unbelievable! I had that plant for 25 years. When we moved I didn't have the nice screened-in porch anymore to keep it in the dark. I had to put it outside in the summer. Since we no longer had the porch to sit on at night to watch the event, I always missed her flowering. I'd find a spent flower in the morning. Darn! I left her outside too long last fall and she died. Other than the beautiful flower, it really was an ugly plant. I feel bad, after keeping it alive all these years, I let her die.
I don't know if this is important or not, but I hardly ever watered it during the winter. That may have something to do with it setting buds in the summer besides keeping it away from indoor lighting. Just a guess.

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Pastime: Since I have the "mother" plant in FL, and had broken off a piece, I rooted it and brought it back to AR. Then year before last, while bringing the ungainly thing in, another piece got broken off and I rooted that, along with two more pieces, thus increasing my chances of SOMETHING blooming. This thing takes off and makes huge shoots and is a real pain to bring inside as they flop all over and are likely to break off, however, the good part is that they root easily. We bring our tender plants into the sunroom in AR during the winter and turn the heat down to about 55. My good friend and neighbor watches over everything during the time we are away, and she waters sparingly and everything does well. The Christmas cactus I had in Illinois always had set buds outside before I brought them in for the winter and they usually bloomed right on time. They now reside in the sunroom and bloom earlier (like the end of October or early November) and by Christmas they are gone, but have another flush around the first of the year. I think they are confused but I enjoy them whenever they bloom.

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

I love the way the question is phrased- how do you MAKE this plant bloom. It reminds me of the term "forcing" bulbs out-of-season. We can't MAKE plants do anything! We can provide conditions under which they do well, but whether they perform to our expectations or not is up to them!

Waterman, IL(Zone 5a)

I know what you mean about the long shoots and the flopping over.

Always had luck with Christmas cactus blooming. But like you said, if it was outside for the summer it would set buds and bloom before Thanksgiving. I don't think I ever had one that bloomed at Christmas. There's something about those types of plants that if they're kept out of incandescent lighting (outside) for a time they set buds.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

The long gangly plant is what I hated. It would become unmanageable. I finally learned to whack it back to keep it under control. I didn't realize this was light sensitive to bloom tho...

DP72 ~ I have been known to "make" plants die... 8 )

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Somewhere along the line, I heard that you could cut them back, however, was afraid I would "make" them die, too, so left them alone to do their thing. Whatever we did this year must have done the trick as we have had the two blooms. I have two babies in the sunroom which look like they might be more manageable as they haven't sent up those long shoots yet.

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh, we can all kill plants, and have all done it! What is funny is that if one of OUR plants kicks the bucket, our story is that it just "died." But if somebody ELSE'S plant kicks the bucket, they "killed" it.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

dp72, lol,lol. What an observation!!! In my case? Usually, people said, oh how beautiful your plants are, what gorgeous flowers you've....my honest response should be "I kill many a plant too, only those kicked the bucket made its way to the compost pile faster than I can take a picture to post 'em" lol,lol.

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

Hi, Lily. People tell me what beautiful container plants I have and that I must have a green thumb. I tell them that if they could see all the ones that ended up in the dumpster [I can't have a compost pile, unfortunately] they would have a better understanding of just how good I really am.

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

For someone who has been dubbed "Plant Murderer" by her husband, anything that makes it to the bloom stage is definitely a success! Of course, this is from someone who never helps me weed because he doesn't know the difference between flowers and weeds, and usually manages to step on my precious babies when "helping" me in the garden! Of course, he does all of the heavy lifting for me, so I can overlook all of this! I am not without my faults, too -- I have intentionally never learned how to start the lawn mower, weed whacker, or other "machinery." I do know how to use a wheelbarrow, though.

Waterman, IL(Zone 5a)

I know what you mean. I was out by the GH today straightening out all 100 of the potted daylilies, pulling out weeds and giving them each a good soaking and making sure all the tags were in the right plants. The sweat is pouring off my face, my clothes are soaked from the hose, my curly hair is fuzzed to capacity in the humidity and he comes out to give me the weather report, (DAH I can see it's going to storm), drags another palett over for me to stack plants on, and goes back in the house. He's a good guy and does do all the heavy work around here too, so I shut up. I just shake my head.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

I've this 'small' NBC. When I purchased this one from a local 'Ma & Pa' nursery stand. I was drooling over the parent's plant. Even there, they said the parent plant was a 'Family heirloom' thus isn't for sale ever! And what made me so intriqued was. The parent plant is full of buds at that time. lol.
Kim

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Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Good things happen to those who wait....After missing the two blooms in AR while we were on a trip, had to leave two buds and travel to FL to clean up after hurricane Fay. Upon looking at our plant there, I found two more buds....something happened to one of them but the other one was watched with great frequency, both during the day and into the evening. Late Monday afternoon, Sept. 8 at around 6:00, this is what I saw:

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Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

8:00 o'clock -- DH has his camera set up ready for the show. No time to invite anyone to dinner this time!

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Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

8:30 and we are mosquito bait but we still persist.

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I'll eat dinner right here & watch... 8 )) if you don't mind!

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

10:00 -- it is fully open and the fragrance is heavenly. One out of five aren't the greatest odds but I can rest assured that it will probably bloom again next year, given the same spot in the garden and some more banana peels!

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Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Be my guest, Podster!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

On the cleanup from IKE here. Here's hoping you didn't have too much FAY damage. Beautiful bloom. How did it smell? I have one bud on an ugly little plant right now... am hovering like a buzzard! lol

Deland, FL & Hot Spr, AR

Podster: The Fay damage was one old tree which we wondered what was holding it up. It was full of holes and was out on the edge of the property -- No real damage, except if you want to count the kudzu that came down with it -- then we had a pine tree that split off in the 2004 hurricanes (3 of them) that crossed FL and it fell -- no damage there, just a job for DH to cut it up and haul the logs out for the yard waste people. Also a large limb fell close to the garage, missing it, so all we had were the usual twigs and small branches that we always have after a big rain event. We never thought we would have to rush back to AR to clean up after a hurricane, however, we had small twigs and branches down here. Some of our neighbors had trees down, but we were fortunate. As the husband of one of our neighbors often said...."When you live in the woods......" Hope your Ike damage wasn't extensive.

The fragrance was heavy and reminded me of citrus, very nice, though. Keep a close watch on your little bud! If Ike didn't damage it, you should be fine. Good luck with it!
Jean

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Weather wise, it has been an interesting year. We had no serious damage from Ike. Just lots of trash ~ leaves and limbs. In our woods a couple of large hardwoods snapped but we "live in the woods" and won't worry about it. Salvage what we can for firewood and the rest will rot down providing habitat for the critters. My Cereus bud survived and has a different bloom from yours. But as I recall, delicious fragrance. Looking forward to it!

Slidell, LA(Zone 8b)

I have what I thought was NBC but came to find out recently that it was Hooker's Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum hookeri). I received it as a large plant from a friend of a friend who no longer wanted it. The first year it didn't do anything. Then I read somewhere that increased sunlight in the spring and summer produced more buds. So I put it at the back of the yard which gets most all day sun and have had lots of new growth and buds. I water it on a regular basis but not as much as my flower beds (maybe a couple of times a week). I wish these had the fragrance of the NBC.

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I think that is similar to the one I have. Very pretty. Glad it has found a new home with you. Do you keep in potted or in a flower bed?

Slidell, LA(Zone 8b)

Podster - its potted and kinda root bound but I think it likes that.

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