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Thursday - September 04, 2014

From: Sulphur, LA
Region: California
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Night-Blooming Cereus not Blooming
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a plant called a night-blooming cereus, which during the warm season, is supposed to have blooms that come out at night and close up but don't fall off when morning approaches. But my cereus has not been doing this. Cereus are also supposed to grow very tall but mine is only 1 foot tall. The frost got it last winter but that's the only reason I think it would continue to not bloom. Please tell me why this is happening.

ANSWER:

There are many plants commonly called Night-blooming cereus that belong to the genus Cereus, Epiphyllum, Hylocereus, Peniocereus, Selenicereus and others. If you want to further identify your plant (and perhaps find out what conditions it prefers based on its native habitat), take a look at the Wikipedia.org page on Night-blooming cereus.

Without knowing which plant you have in your garden, it is not easy to advise on how to get y our plant to bloom. But in any event, it looks like the recent frost has set it back and it is slow to resume vigorous growth.

There is one Night-blooming Cereus, Peniocereus greggii, that is native to the warmest parts of the United States and is in the Native Plant Database as well.

Peniocereus greggii is described in the Native Plant Database as having a few angular, gray, thin, barely spiny, twiggy stems resembling a small dead bush; flowers large, white.

This cactus, sometimes placed in the larger genus Cereus, is inconspicuous most of the year. When in bloom, it is easily spotted only in the evening and early morning when its spectacular night-blooming flowers are open. It is very popular in desert rock gardens and in the cactus trade; when a population is found, all too often the large, turnip-like roots are quickly dug up. It can be grown from stem cuttings, if the cut end is allowed to heal in shade for several weeks before it is planted in dry sand. The plant is legally protected in most of its range and should be left in the wild.

The species name “greggii” was named for Josiah Gregg, (1806-1850). He was born in Overton County, Tennessee. In the summer of 1841 and again in the winter of 1841-42 he traveled through Texas, up the Red River valley, and later from Galveston to Austin and by way of Nacogdoches to Arkansas. He took note of Texas geology, trees, prevalent attitudes, and politics. At the same time, Gregg began compiling his travel notes into a readable manuscript. His “Commerce of the Prairies”, which came out in two volumes in 1844, was an immediate success. In 1848 he joined a botanical expedition to western Mexico and California, during which he corresponded with and sent specimens to the eminent botanist George Engelman in St. Louis. Subsequently, the American Botanical Society added the Latin name “greggii” in his honor to twenty-three species of plants. Gregg died on February 25, 1850, as a result of a fall from his horse.

Also there is Peniocereus greggii var. greggii in the Native Plants Database.

The erect or sprawling, ribbed stems of this inconspicuous cactus can be anywhere from 1-8 ft. in length. The fragrant, waxy-white flowers are nocturnal, lasting only one night. Both they and the bright red fruits that follow are quite showy.

 

 

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