The night blooming cactus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) is also known as the Dutchman's pipe cactus, queen of the night, jungle cacti and night-blooming Cereus. The cactus produces flowers in the dark of night which close up during the light of day. Most blossoms appear pure white but a few have a touch of yellow and all offer a sweet fragrance. Flowers measure 11 inches in length and 5 inches across. Numerous hybrids offer more brilliant blossom colors but often lack the true night-blooming characteristic.
In the wild the night blooming cactus thrives in the tree tops. They are considered to be epiphytic, which means that they live located on other organisms. The cacti are not parasites but simply choose to take up residence on the other plant or tree to reach the sunlight better. The night blooming cactus holds on with long runners that they wrap through and around their host plant. The runners also serve to propagate and create new night blooming cacti. They prefer to be located in full sun to partial shade.
The night blooming cactus is capable of flourishing in the home garden in tropical regions. The cacti are cultivated in hanging baskets and on garden trellises. Pollination of the flowers occurs by moths or bats during the night hours. The light appearance of the flowers attracts the species.
When grown as a house plant the cacti is normally planted in well-draining soil. At the University of Oklahoma, the night blooming cactus is grown in two parts peat moss mixed with one part bark and one part coarse sand.
Watering the night blooming cactus every day will help it to flourish. It does not like having its soil dry out which can result in wilt or death. During the spring and summer the cacti will benefit from a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer applied monthly. In the winter months the plants require no fertilizing.
The flowers of the night blooming cactus can be gently cut and placed in a plastic bag. If the flowers are refrigerated, the blossoms will be preserved for up to three days.