Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Princess of the Night, Snake Cactus
Selenicereus pteranthus

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Selenicereus (sel-ee-nih-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: pteranthus (ter-AN-thus) (Info)

Synonym:Cereus pteranthus
Synonym:Cereus brevispinulus
Synonym:Cereus nycticallis
Synonym:Selenicereus nycticallis

» View all varieties of Orchid Cactus

6 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Tropicals and Tender Perennials
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 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
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:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

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

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
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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There are a total of 10 photos.
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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Syl_Vee On Jun 10, 2010, Syl_Vee from Bradenton, FL wrote:

This plant has been growing on an old avocado tree in East Bradenton for about thirty years. Tonight my friend called me over to photograph the blooms he would describe to me year after year, as we looked at the withered remnants in the morning.

These flowers are so beautiful they are almost intimidating! 'Princess of the Night' is a good name ... but really they give a completely magical aura.

Talk about easy to grow! My friend does .... exactly nothing. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Positive Two_and_a_cat On May 21, 2006, Two_and_a_cat from Titusville, FL wrote:

The plant is very easy to grow. We grew ours from several cuttings from a "wild" one in Melbourne, FL. I just stuck the cuttings in the ground. If left out of control, they can take over. However, if you manage it, it produce lots of beautiful evening flowers. This species has a slight musty odor to the flowers, no real scent. They like to climb. They prefer scrub palms. They are in partial shade. We have an irrigation system that provides them with 90 minutes of water, twice a week. The soil is sandy. We are in Titusvile, FL. Our microclimate is ~Hardiness Zone 10. We have two selenicereus, this pteranthus; and a beautiful anthonyanus.

Neutral NativePlantFan9 On Dec 31, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This cactus is a viney and spiny perennial, night-blooming cactus that is native to Mexico and was introduced to Florida in the U.S. by settlers during the Seminole War. It has since naturalized as a weedy, vining cactus in several counties in central and southern Florida from zone 9a southward through zone 11 and the Keys, including Brevard, Seminole, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, Lee, and Collier counties in east and southwest Florida and the Keys. It has white-petaled flowers with green sepals that open at night on long stalks with white hairs, scales and long reddish-brown spines at the base of the pointed flower stalk. This cactus often forms shrubby or viney snakelike masses of spiny stems creeping over eachother and objects in a serpentlike, weedy tangle or mass. It has escaped in many counties in central and southern Florida and the Keys in the U.S. and is also found and occuring or reproducing in the wild in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The flowers are white with green sepals on long stalks that open at night.

MORE FACTS - Weedy in the landscape. Thrives in full sun or partial shade; may do well in light shade. Called "Snake Cactus" because stems form shrubby or viney, serpentlike tangles, creeping over and wrapping around eachother and climbing over objects and fences. Night-blooming; flowers open at night. Naturalized in central and southern Florida and the Virgin Islands in the U.S.; native to Mexico. Introduced to Florida probably during the Seminole War by settlers; has escaped cultivation and is weedy and established in the Keys and several counties in the central and southern portions of the state (zone 9a southward through 11) ever since. Also introduced to the Virgin Islands, where it is also naturalized. This is a viney to climbing or shrubby, snakelike cactus. Found in and naturalized in coastal strand, sunnny open sites, pinelands, hammocks, and disturbed or ruderal sites such as vacant lots and along fencerows as well as disturbed coastal sites. It flowers year-round in Florida where it is naturalized. It has short spines and ribbed stems. The flower tubes are somewhat similar to that of S. grandiflorus. Invasive and weedy in disturbed and natural areas.


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

Bradenton, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Titusville, Florida

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