Night-Blooming Catcus Flowers

Whether you're creating a night-blooming garden or simply want to find flowers that bloom in an arid desert climate, there are plenty of options to choose from. Evolution has played a large role in creating blossoms that open only at night. If a plant's environment is filled with nocturnal animals, the plant is more likely to be pollinated if it allows those creatures access to its pollen when they're most active. Cacti fit perfectly into this classification, since many desert animals come out to hunt only when the temperature drops at night.

Night-Blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii)

Called "Queen of the Night," this cactus flower is a rare bloom that only emerges on a single summer night in late June or early July. When it blooms, it opens with long, thin white petals that have a blush-colored undertone. The petals open when the sun goes down and are withered away by sunrise. The night-blooming cereus is native to the arid desert regions of northern Mexico, as well as Arizona and Texas. You'll find it at high desert altitudes, where it grows in the shade of larger cacti and shrubs.

Pink Easter Lily Cactus (Echinopsis eyrisii)

Contrary to its name, the blooms produced by this cactus are white in color. Native to South America, this cactus can grow in the southwestern deserts of the U.S. as long as the average temperature remains higher than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It needs full sun for most of the day, with partial shade when the sun is at its highest. Like most cacti, it needs little water and soil that drains well. When it blooms during the summer, its white flower is 2-to-4 inches wide with concentric layers of sharp, pointed petals.

Pink Hedgehog Cactus (Echinopsis fendleri)

With hot pink blossoms, this night-blooming cactus is one of the most colorful and appealing for gardeners. Also called the Strawberry cactus, this cactus is low to the ground, sprawling sideways rather than growing vertically. The blossoms, about 4 inches wide, are spread over the face of the cactus. Oval in shape with a golden center, the flowers appear in May and June. This cactus is native to the southwestern deserts of the U.S.

Snake Cactus (Selenicereus pteranthus)

Called "Princess of the Night," this cactus is actually classified as a shrub for its ability to climb like a vine. Within the U.S., it's found only in certain parts of Florida. Unlike most night-blooming cactus flowers, the snake cactus blooms year-round. The flowers of this cactus have long, spiny petals in pale yellow that jut out from a solid white center. Gardeners cultivate them for their year-round blossoms and rich scent.

Keywords: night-blooming cactus flowers, southwestern deserts, year-round blossoms

About this Author

Jenni Wiltz is a fiction writer who has also worked in advertising for a nationwide department store. Her historical fiction has been published in "The Portland Review." She has a degree in English and history from the University of California at Davis, and has worked as a grant coordinator and senior editor, in addition to writing professionally since 2003.

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