Queen of the Night

Arm extended with hand holding red spiky flower head.

Epiphytic spineless cactus with red flowers. Photo Craig Field © Sydney Living Museums

The Queen of the Night is an epiphytic spineless cactus that originates from the rainforests of Central America. It is considered to be epiphytic (a non-parasitic plant that use other plants as support while getting nutrients from surrounding air) as they grow in the treetops in their natural environment.

They are a rather ordinary cactus until the large elusive fragrant flowers bloom during early summer here in Sydney mostly during the night.

The flower colours range from white to pink to fire engine red, and have a faint vanilla fragrance.

Each flower generally only last one night; another flower blooms each evening over about three weeks until the flowering cycle is finished for the year.
 

Large white flower with central cup and spiky radiating petals.
Epiphytic spineless cactus with white flowers. Photo Anita Rayner © Sydney Living Museums
Two white flowers.
Epiphytic spineless cactus with white flowers. Photo Anita Rayner © Sydney Living Museums

These epiphytic spineless cacti grow well at our SLM properties. The pots in the courtyard at Vaucluse House and at Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta are where you will find them.

They are not too fussy with their environmental requirements but prefer filtered sunlight and a well-drained soil and they even don’t mind being a little bit root bound. Ensure you don’t over water them either as they prefer to be left dry during the winter which helps trigger spring/summer flowers.

If you are prepared to grow them they will strike easily from cuttings in a well-drained soil.

As they get taller they will probably need staking or you could even let them ramble through the canopy of a tree in your garden as a support.

Hoping you are lucky enough to see an Epiphyllum oxypetalum flowering this coming summer!

About the author

Horticulturist Craig wearing a cap and a blue shirt stands in front of a green climbing plant which has purple flowers

Craig Field

Horticulturist

Craig is a qualified horticulturist with over 20 years hands on experience who from an early age always dreamed of becoming