Queen of the night cactus is a darling. Not just among succulents’ enthusiasts; but ages long cultures view it in a revering light.
Is it because of the name “queen” in it?
Or was the name as result of the elevation in the first place?
Wonder no more because you’re about to get all the juice right below. But only if you keep reading.
Queen of the night cactus is a member of the Cactaceae family, just like any other cactus. Further on, it is among the 19 species that make up the Epiphyllum genus, this particular one (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) being the most popular.
On occasions, the plant has been referred to as night-blooming cereus though has no relation to the night-blooming species in the Cereeae tribe.
Besides queen of the night, this species is also referred to as the Dutchman’s pipe cactus. There is a lot more names given to this plant in different cultures as you’ll get to see in a few.
Description & Characteristics of the Queen of the Night Cactus
Primary stems have woody bases, a cylindrical shape up to a height of 6m and are laterally flat. Meanwhile, secondary stems are flat with oval tapering ends.
Flowers are large, white in color and fragrant – only that you’ll have to check them out during the night if you want enjoy them.
What is the origin of the Queen of the Night cactus plant?
The species like many other succulent plants and cactus plants has been found to be a native of southern Mexico and parts of south and central America.
The Queen of the Night cactus plant is quite a popular plant owing to its extensive cultivation. This has definitely bolstered its population and hence the designation “Least Concern” by the IUCN.
Interesting facts about the Queen of the Night
Queen of the night cactus isn’t just another cutie pie succulent. In some cultures, it has been assigned particular notions that are reflected in the names it’s identified as.
- The Japanese refer to it as Gekka Bijin meaning beauty under the moon.
- In Indonesia it’s a flower of triumph (Wijaya Kusuma)
- In Sri Lanka it’s a flower from heaven (Kadupul)
- Indians have named it Brahma Kamalam, after the Hindu god of creation lord Brahma. According to their beliefs, your wishes will be fulfilled if you offer your petitions to God when the plant’s flower is blooming.
The Chinese on the other hand use it figuratively to refer to someone who scores a sudden but short-lived moment of success – just like the flower of this plant that blooms at night but can’t live to see the next dusk.
How to Care for Queen of the Night Cactus Plants— the Right Way
Being a succulent, this is an easy peasy plant to take care of in your garden of succulents and cacti. You know, like being light-handed on some care aspects that should otherwise be thorough and so on.
For a robust and low maintenance cactus of this kind, here are the minimum specifics to keep in mind.
Should you keep your Queen of the Night hydrated?
The queen of the night cactus hates water just as any succulent out there. So, be sure to heed this if you want it to thrive. If you didn’t know already, succulents and cacti do not need as much water as other plants in order to thrive.
If anything they need less water and should only be watered when fully dried out. (Drainage holes and breathable pots/planters are what allows these types of plants to thrive best).
From spring all the way to fall, the watering frequency should be once every 2 weeks. Keep a lookout if the soil is still damp or moist, if it is, stretch out the watering process another couple days or 1 more week to ensure there will be no rotting.
Come winter, cut back on watering to allow the top soil to dry up completely. That means you’ll be watering once every 4-6 weeks.
What are the ideal temperatures for the Queen of the Night cactus?
This particular cactus thrives in Zone 10 and 11. (If you’d like to know what zone your other plants are use this plant hardiness tool to find out). So, you’ll have to bring them inside during winter if you’re based in zones where minimum average temperatures can hit 35°F during winter.
Temperatures between 50°F and 90°F are ideal for this kind of cactus.
Proper soil and fertilization for Queen of the Night Cacti
Be sure to use a well-draining soil mix for your queen of the night cactus. That way you’re sure its roots are safe from rot that comes by as a result of excessive moisture due to the soil holding water for too long.
Use a commercial cactus and succulent mix or create your own by mixing regular potting soil with pumice/perlite and coarse sand.
Apply a low nitrogen fertilizer once a month from spring to fall. Alternatively, you can use a natural fertilizer (compost).
Sunlight recommendations for your Queen of the Night Cactus
Direct sunlight and this cactus don’t get along well. Remember in the natural habitat it grows on other plants shielding itself against direct rays in their shade. So, if your region is ideal, planting them outside should be under bigger plants.
Placing this cactus in an environment where it’s closely matched to its natural habitat is ideal.
But for indoors, a couple of hours by a window will go a long way.
Propagating the Queen of the Night Cactus
Before we begin, if you haven’t checked out our article on propagating succulents successfully, we highly recommend you read it and learn the overall process behind propagation and why it works.
If you want to increase the number of your cacti quick, go with the cuttings option. Of course seeds are also an avenue but the wait is going to be a little longer.
For cuttings, make sure to make them either in summer or spring 2-3 weeks after the flowering season. Make a cutting long enough for planting and allow it sometime (a week is good) for the cut part to dry. Whatever you use should be sharp and clean to avert any infections. We highly recommend getting a handy tool like this for easy cuts, it’ll make your life so much easier.
Proceed to insert the cutting in a well-draining moist potting mix. (For organic enthusiasts and practitioners you might want to use this organic soil mix by The Next Gardener). Place the pot in a bright spot away from direct sunlight. Water every time the soil dries up until the plant is off to a start when you can now adopt the watering routine above.
Remember, less water is better than more water for these types of plants.
How can you Repot the Queen of the Night Cactus Safely
The plant is going to outgrow its original pot as the years go by, like anything that grows. So, repotting is a sure thing if you want to keep your plant beaming.
Again, give it some time after the flowering season, usually a month is enough. Fill the bottom of the new pot with gravel to aid drainage.
Now carefully pull out the plant by its root ball from its current pot and place it in the above pot. Make sure it isn’t stuck. Otherwise, loosen up the soil mix by passing a gardening knife or garden shovel through it in a back and forth motion along the edges of the pot. Fill up the pot with a fresh mix and give it a week before watering. Allow the soil to dry for a month before doing it again after which you can proceed with the usual frequency above.
Pests & Problems to Look Out for your Queen of the Night
Queen of the night cactus is vulnerable to attacks from common pests that munch other cacti and succulents. These include mealybugs, slugs, aphids and scale bugs – among a host of others. It is important to check your plants regularly for signs of these little intruders.
Apply any of the following in case you spot them:
- Spray the plant using a combination of rubbing alcohol and water
- Spray with the required pesticide or insecticide
- Blow them off using a jet of water. Just be sure to keep the soil covered so as it doesn’t end up being waterlogged.
Fungal Leaf Spot
What is fungal leaf exactly? It’s like a deteriorating plant typically spotted when a plant becomes covered in black/brown patches. Not only is it not appealing but it can be a sign your plant needs more attention to overcome this.
For a severe case, it may be impossible to salvage the plant entirely and propagating a new one is the only worth while step. But in case of just a few spots, using a fungicide is a big saver. With more than 100 reviews we believe this fungicide from Souther AG will be a safe bet if you’re using method.
Uses of Queen of the Night Cactus
Besides the it being ornamental, it can be used for the following.
- Strengthen heart tissue
- Alleviate heart pain
- Calm the nervous system
Where Can I Buy A Queen of the Night Cactus?
In a lot of places.
With the Queen of the Night’s popularity, it is easy to come across a piece of it in succulents’ retailers either offline or online. This cactus being amongst the more popular cacti won’t be hard to come by when searching for it.
Offline, walk into your local nursery and grab one for yourself or pick it up from your friend’s place – with their expressed permission, of course.
Think you’ll have yourself a Queen of the Night cactus plant now? As beautiful as they are, they’re also low maintenance! Easy to care for and the right amount of neglect goes a long way, not your typical high maintenance Queen.
Did you enjoy this article but are still confused and have more questions you’d like answered? Feel free to join our exclusive group at the Succulent Plant Lounge. We have members asking questions daily and are being answered from our awesome members as well.
Thanks for reading with us, and like always, happy planting out there!