Most the varieties of cactus that bloom at night are commonly known as night blooming cereus, though several different genus species are lumped together in this name. All produce large, showy white blossoms with a rich perfume, that open only at night. The perfume and bright while color are designed to attract the moths that pollinate the plant.
This variety of night-blooming cereus has blossoms up to 7 inches across. The plant itself is unimpressive, with narrow, spineless stems that look withered and lifeless most of the time. Night-blooming cereus can be grown as an ornamental, but it should be planted in pots and brought inside once temperatures drop below 55 degrees F. at night.
Unreleated to the cereus cacti, epiphyllum often is called night blooming cereus because it blooms in the evening. Also known as orchid cactus, epiphyllum cacti have very flat, spineless leaves branching from slender stems. The cacti don't root in the ground but in the crooks or trees or bunches of moss. They draw nutrients from the air.
This native of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert has slender, deeply ribbed stems with long black spines. The white flowers measure 5 to 10 cm. and may almost hide the stems during the spring and early summer.
Trichocereus, also know as San Pedro cactus, is a native of the Andes. The fragrant white blooms open at night. The San Pedro cactus is related to the peyote cactus and like its relative, contains the hallucinogen mescaline.