A member of the cactus family, the night blooming cereus plant is one of the most distinctive plants that grows in the desert. Growing in desert areas such as portions of southern Arizona and some areas in Texas and Mexico, the night blooming cereus plant blooms on one night per year in June or July. Characterized by creamy white, incredibly fragrant flowers that can grow in size to 4 inches across, these flowers make excellent plants for warm weather rock gardens.
Grow the night blooming cereus plant indoors during the fall, winter and spring. The temperatures are too low during this time to grow the plant outdoors. Place the plant in a heated greenhouse or place the plant in an are in your home where it will stay warm and receive partial sunlight.
Bring the plant outdoors during the summer and place the plant's container under the shade of another plant, where the cereus plant will receive filtered sunlight throughout the day.
Water the plant only when the planting soil has dried out. The night blooming cereus plant is a desert plant and doesn’t require frequent watering.
Fertilize the plant once per month during spring and summer using an all-purpose plant fertilizer.
The flowers of yucca (Yucca filamentosa) remain open all day long. When darkness falls, they perk themselves up, their blossoms become more upright and they exude a fragrance reminiscent of soap. Hardy through USDA hardiness zone 4, yucca forms a low-growing cluster of long leaves. White, bell-shaped flowers are borne atop a 6-foot tall stalk.
A low-growing annual with smallish flowers in shades of pink, blue, white and yellow, evening stock (Matthiola incana) emits its spicy fragrance after dark. A half-hardy annual, stocks thrive in cool weather. They easily self-sow in your garden or can be started indoors from seed 10 to 12 weeks prior to your last spring frost.
Flowering in August, the August lily (Amaryllis belladonna) is native to South Africa. It sends up a 30-inch-high flower stalk in August but does not begin growing leaves until several weeks later. Its large, showy flowers are pink, waxy and trumpet-shaped. The flowers have a fragrance of honey.
Recognize datura stramonium by its shape, color and size. It grows in large groupings of branching plants, up to 5 feet tall with large green leaves that resemble those of sunflower. Study the flowers so you'll know what to look for: a long, funnel shape in light violet to lavender, opening fully only late at night.
Follow your nose. You may very well smell this plant before you see it. Datura stramonium literally stinks. A rank, pungent odor.
Look in the dry flats around the foothills in ditches and by roadsides anywhere in the Southwest. Datura stramonium grows best in the lower elevations of mountainous areas, up to about 7,000 feet.
Find datura stramonium growing wild in overgrazed pastures, on farms and in fields from New England to Florida. It loves the full sun of an open field and livestock won't touch it, so it's easy to spot.
Check out soybean fields in the south and central parts of the United States. According to Cornell University, datura stramonium is the most common weed to be found among soybeans.
Plant your night blooming jasmine next to your house, if possible. Heat from the house will increase the temperature of the air and soil in adjacent beds.
Mulch your jasmine with 4 to 6 inches of straw, dry leaves or other organic mulch that has a high air content. Mulches with high air content act as a better insulator than compacted mulches.
Staple clear plastic sheeting over the jasmine as a tent between your house and the ground. Place rocks on the ground to secure the plastic. The clear plastic will act as a temporary greenhouse and will help trap heat from the side of your house to keep the jasmine warmer during unexpected cold periods.
If you expect a sudden, unseasonably cold period, consider placing a stock pot full of hot water under the plastic. The heat and steam will help keep the area under the plastic warmer than normal.
This common name of Cestrum nocturnum is usually used as the British spelling for “jasmine.” This small evergreen shrub is widely grown as a houseplant in Britain. Native to South America, all parts of the plant are considered poisonous and can cause nausea if ingested.
Lady of the Night
The dainty white flowers, which are much more fragrant at night than during the day, are thought to be the source of this moniker. Native to India, its Hindi name (Rat ki rani) translates as “queen of the night” and its Manipuri name (Thabal lei) translates to “moonflower.”
Dama de Noche
Night blooming jasmine is known in Spanish as “dama de noche” (translated as “lady of the night”). It has shown to reduce the severity of some epileptic episodes in some trials and may possess analgesic properties. Extracts of Cestrum nocturnum have been shown to kill some types of bacteria.
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.
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