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
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Edible Fruits and Nuts



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Vines and Climbers

Cactus and Succulents


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Garden Grove, California

Bradenton, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida

Titusville, Florida

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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.


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 cou... read more