10 Different Night Blooming Cereus

White night blooming cereus flower with pink outer petals.


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"Night blooming cereus" is a catch-all term signifying several types of cacti with flowers that only bloom at night (and usually only for a single night). Most are fragrant. All of them are perennial in their native lands. But, because they're tropical, they're typically grown indoors in containers in the North. Be careful around their sharp spines. Confusion often results when using common names for discussing them. For example, multiple plants are known commonly as "Queen of the Night."

Learn about 10 of the most popular types of night blooming cereus grown ornamentally.

  • 01 of 10

    Queen of the Night Cactus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

    Flower of Epiphyllum oxypetalum.


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    Queen of the Night cactus is also called "Dutchman's pipe," but don't confuse it with the vine of the same name (Aristolochia macrophylla).

    Epiphyllum species are native to rainforests, so don't think "desert" when it comes to watering them: They need a little more water than cacti native to arid regions. Don't let their soil dry out completely. Feed them every other week in spring and summer with a fertilizer specifically for cacti.

    Usually, when we say a plant is root-bound, that's a bad thing. But that's not necessarily the case with this plant. The more root-bound it is, the more likely it is to flower. In the wild, it can become 10 feet tall, but as a houseplant, it'll grow only 1 to 2 feet tall.

  • 02 of 10

    Red Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum 'Fifty Grand')

    Red orchid cacti in hanging baskets.


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    Epiphyllum cacti are also called "orchid cacti" and come in a number of cultivars. The 'Fifty Grand' cultivar bears red flowers. Grown in a hanging basket, this hybrid can be hung in a pergola outdoors in summer. Care requirements are the same as for Epiphyllum oxypetalum. It grows 1 to 2 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Red
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, but not in direct sunlight
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 03 of 10

    Pink Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum 'Thousand Pinks')

    Closeup of pink orchid cactus bloom.

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    The 'Thousand Pinks' hybrid cultivar of orchid cactus bears pink flowers. The Epiphyllum genus is epiphytic in the wild, growing right on trees (rather than in the ground) and needing just the bit of soil and nutrients trapped in tree crotches. That's why Epiphyllum flowers better root-bound than when in pots with more soil in them. 'Thousand Pinks' grows 1 to 2 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, but not in direct sunlight
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 04 of 10

    Hooker's Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum hookeri)

    Hooker's orchid cactus in bloom.

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    The petals of this night blooming cereus are much narrower than those of Epiphyllum oxypetalum; they're also less fragrant. But care requirements are the same as for Epiphyllum oxypetalum. The plant matures to 1.5 to 3 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Bright, but not in direct sunlight
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Dragon Fruit Cactus (Hylocereus undatus)

    Flower closeup of dragon fruit cactus.

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    Besides its flowers, this plant bears neon-pink fruits of the same name that are edible. Like Epiphyllum, Hylocereus needs more water in hot weather than you might think, considering it's a cactus. In summer, give it a deep watering three times a week. But barely water it at all in winter. It grows 5 to 10 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White, with yellow center and outer petals
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 06 of 10

    Deer Horn Cactus (Peniocereus greggii)

    Peniocereus greggii bloom closeup.


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    Deer horn cactus is another that can grow up to 10 feet tall in the wild, where it performs best in sandy soil mixed with caliche. In containers, it only needs to be watered 3 to 5 times a month in a warm environment (less often in a cool one). In winter it should be barely watered at all. Feed it with a fertilizer specifically for cacti two or three times annually for optimal performance.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Filtered sunlight
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 07 of 10

    Vanilla Cactus (Selenicereus grandiflorus)

    Selenicereus grandiflorus with pink flowers.

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    Vanilla cactus is related to dog tail cactus (Selenicereus testudo), another night bloomer. Water it regularly, but don't overwater it. It can tolerate a little more shade than many cacti. This plant grows 1 to 2 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Pink, yellow, white, off-white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 08 of 10

    San Pedro Cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi)

    San Pedro cactus with flowers.

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    This columnar plant becomes 10 to 20 feet tall if grown outdoors, and since it's a bit hardier than most night blooming cereus plants (zone 8), more gardeners have an opportunity to grow it outdoors. It needs less water and more sun than Epiphyllum. San Pedro cactus is multi-stemmed and fast-growing. Like the better-known peyote, it is hallucinogenic.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Cardeiro (Cereus jamacaru)

    Closeup of Cereus jamacaru flower.

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    Some of these night blooming cereus plants belong to the actual genus, Cereus, beginning with Cereus jamacaru. Cardeiro is native to a dry region of Brazil, so it doesn't want much water. Allow the soil to dry out almost completely before you water again. It is tree-like (it can grow to 20 feet tall in the wild) and bears edible, pinkish-red fruit.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White, with pink outer petals
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 10 of 10

    Peruvian Apple Cactus (Cereus peruvianus)

    Cereus peruvianus flower closeup.

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    This is another night blooming cereus with edible fruit. Feed it with a slow-release fertilizer specifically for cacti throughout the growing season. During the summertime, give it a deep watering three times a week to support the new growth and fruit production. But barely water it at all in winter. It can grow up to 30 feet tall in the wild.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained