Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Queen of the Night
Selenicereus grandiflorus

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Selenicereus (sel-ee-nih-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: grandiflorus (gran-dih-FLOR-us) (Info)

Synonym:Cactus grandiflorus
Synonym:Cereus knuthianus
Synonym:Selenicereus knuthianus
Synonym:Selenicereus hallensis
Synonym:Cereus grandiflorus

» View all varieties of Orchid Cactus

36 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Vines and Climbers
Cactus and Succulents

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By ideboda
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There are a total of 23 photos.
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8 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive desertlavender On Jun 4, 2012, desertlavender from Tucson, AZ wrote:

I have an SG that blooms profusely one night a year, every year, on exactly the same night (usually in July or August) as every other SG in Tucson. However, this morning two blossoms popped out way ahead of schedule, and several other blooms are ready to pop. Is it in trouble? The plant is about 8 years old and began blooming about four years ago, after it was transplanted from our previous home.

Positive bob_kim On Aug 12, 2011, bob_kim from Mulberry, FL wrote:

In 1966, I arrived in Mulberry, FL with my parents and siblings.
The plant was growing in a large live oak in the front yard. We did not pay any attention to it until we noticed flowers late at night. After that we watched to see when it would flower again. One year, late spring (here) it had 40+ flowers one night. My Dad put a flood light on it and it made the front page of the local paper! The tree went down in a storm 3-4 years ago and I arranged to have the debris cleared but grabbed what I could of the "vines?" and put them around a live oak in my yard. This plant requires no care what so ever. It is now 30-40 feet up the tree and flowers every year. It is just hard to catch the night it flowers as the blooms are only fully open about 3-4 AM and by daylight they are wilted. Now I have several "fruits" from the flowers. Does anybody know if they are edible?

Neutral Tydy_mommy On Jun 15, 2011, Tydy_mommy from Indialantic, FL wrote:

I have seen the Queen of the Night - Selenicereus grandiflorus growing in many locations around Melbourne, Florida, Merritt Island, Florida and in Indialantic, Florida. I had never even noticed some that were in my daily commute for years, until the blooming phase this year and last. They seem to be sturdy enough, if left alone. I've seen them growing from the tops of palm trees without ever touching soil so soil doesn't seem to be a requirement. Most of the locations are in trees around homes that are 50+ years old. Likely there would be many more cacti but bulldozers have cleared lots to build new homes, etc. Most in these areas are attached to either palms or oak trees. The blooming phase in these areas are happening late May through mid June.

Positive florotica On Jul 25, 2010, florotica from Seattle, WA wrote:

This plant wanders all over my greenhouse in Seattle. It puts its aerial roots onto shelves and other plants' pots. Bloomed July 24 this year - I usually get 1 or 2 blooms each year.

Positive tarbender1997 On Nov 9, 2009, tarbender1997 from Billings, MT wrote:

I have had my plant for 10 years now. It bloomed for the first time last year and did so twice. This year it has bloomed 3 different times, the first time there were 30 buds, the last time there were 12.

I water this plant weekly and it seems to thrive. I have placed used coffee grounds on top of the soil occasionally as I have heared that it helps feed the plant with out using chemical fertilizer.

I have made several attempts at preserving one of the flowers but have been unsuccessful. I have tried drying the bloom using borax. This yellowed the entire bloom and made it very brittle. I tried using hairspray but the bloom closed up and wilted. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to preserve this flower?

Positive spaceman_spiff On Aug 12, 2006, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Here is a link to an article from our local newspaper ("St. Petersburg Times"), with a nice story on this plant. (The article refers heavily to the plant as a "Night-blooming Cereus," which is incorrect. The photos in the print version of the article clearly showed the roundish stems of Selenicereus grandiflorus, as opposed to the flat stems of Night-blooming Cereus, which is an Epiphyllum. However, further into the article it mentions that both the Selenicereus and Epiphyllum have been referred to as "Night-blooming Cereus").

[Link removed. It was too long and wouldn't embed properly. If you're interested in the article, let me know and I will send you a link in an email or tell you how to find the article on their website].


Positive Myakka On Jun 29, 2005, Myakka from Port Charlotte, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

The plant does not require potting, we have taken cuttings and broken parts from a Queen of the Night growing on a Palmetto and attached them to a nearby slash pine. When it bloomed, we had flowers going up almost 40 feet! Time to attach: 3 months, the new plant is now 6 years old. It always blooms in late May/early June, usually just after a full moon.

There is an insect, apparently a small wasp, that immediately upon the flower opening flies in to pollinate the flower. We had 45 blooms at one time on the original plant, and 36 at once on its offspring. We live in Port Charlotte, FL, and pay no attention whetever to this plant! It thrives without us.

Positive RxBenson On Jun 24, 2004, RxBenson from Pikesville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I got a cutting for this gem way back in the mid 70s -- and still have the self-same plant and its progeny! It has only bloomed for me twice! Once when I had it hanging among the branches of a wild cherry tree in NH (Zone 5). We brought it inside before frost and saw the bud, and it bloomed in SEPTEMBER! We set up the camera tripod, knowing it was a one-night affair and I can tell you that every time the flash went off we could see the flower flinch! Early sunrise, ye gad!

Then in JULY a few years later it bloomed again.

From the prior note, maybe it's time to repot! I have one of mine coplanted with Stapelia grandiflora and that, at least, is blooming periodically!

Now I'm in NJ (Zone 7) and they go in and out with the seasons, cascading from large pots on a stands. I'm considering purchasing a split bark log like Monstera enjoys to try to train a younger one. The adventitious roots -- those wiry white things -- are a good indicator of whether or not it's satisfied with the amount of water it's getting. They absorb ambient moisture and if the soil is too dry, they will reach out to grab as much moisture from the air as they need. So don't prune them off because you consider them unsightly. Friends used to call my oldest/biggest one "Cousin It."

I'm keeping one rather moist and one rather dry this summer as a test. If I have any bud-luck, I'll report back.

Positive ideboda On Feb 11, 2004, ideboda from T-village ;) - Friesland
Netherlands (Zone 6a) wrote:

The Queen of the Night (Selenicereus grandiflorus) bears majestic flowers indeed, so can be a real Queen.
However, when not flowering (and she only flowers around June/July - if she does) she doesn't look very pretty to anyone not being a cactus-freak.
The plant can be grown inside, but needs enough room - it will become very big, producing prickly stems of several metres' length, that have to be led along a lattice or rolled-up like a garden-hose, really. In nature it climbs into trees.
In my case, I can't grow it outside, I live in zone 6a in the Netherlands, which means it's far too cold during winter.
The plant doesn't need a lot of water, but shouldn't dry out totally otherwise it will turn purplish brown and look terrible.
Especially when it forms flowerbuds it shouldn't be kept too dry, because these buds grow fast and need enough water to develop.
A negative detail about the flowers is that they're only open a few hours at night, from about 9 pm till about 3 am the next morning, being faded at dawn.
It is suggested they are pollinated by bats in their natural habitat (Texas and South America), these animals only flying by night.
The fragrance of these flowers, though sometimes highly praised, in my opinion isn't so very strong, and a bit undefinable. It comes closest to cocoa-powder, I suppose; some say vanilla, but I don't agree.
Funny enough this smell doesn't come from the centre of the flower, but from the yellow zone between calyx and corolla.
The buds, growing slowly at first, but very fast in their last few days, are fascinating in their development. They start as small white hairy tufts on the stems, suddenly appearing by the end of May, then grow bigger, till the flowertubes begin to stretch and the hair looks sparser.
During the last week the still closed purplebrown sepals point out of the surrounding hair and look like birds' heads, with a downward inclination.
When flowering time comes near, the bud lifts up its head, and suddenly one afternoon the sepals open up a little, showing some tips of the white petals within, which means "To-night is the night!"
Around 7 pm the flower starts to unfold, not showing its full beauty until 10 pm, when the sun is setting. So it's hard to take a good photo by the existing light!
I got a Queen of the Night from someone who went to the Far East for a few years for his work at a famous company, but I wasn't too happy with the plant during the first year because it dropped all its three buds in June after about 2 weeks. They proved to be infested with waxy aphids, but the plant had been too dry too, moreover, it had needed a bigger pot.
Last spring (May 2003) I saw these white tufts again, repotted the plant, removed as many aphids as I could find (checking the buds several times during their growth), and the flowers made it, all five of them!
Suddenly I felt a lot more affection for the old plant, which I had given the nickname of "my old bicycle", its dryish stems looking like wheels of a neglected bicycle indeed. I intend to look after it as well as I can in the future.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Pomona, California
Brandon, Florida
Indialantic, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Loxahatchee, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Billings, Montana
San Antonio, Texas

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