Queen of the Night

Discussion in 'Cacti and Succulents' started by Jean Scott, Jun 12, 2003.

  1. Jean Scott

    Jean Scott Member

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    The following was received via email- I am in search of seeds for a Queen of the Night: A very scented white velvet flower. Do you know where I can locate it?
     
  2. Chris Klapwijk

    Chris Klapwijk Active Member 10 Years

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    Is this the plant you are referring to, possibly Selenicereus grandiflorus
     

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  3. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    I believe the attached image is of Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Dutchman's pipe cactus), rather that Selenicereus grandiflorus (queen of the night). Both cacti are night-blooming, but queen of the night exhibits slightly larger flowers with more numerous and narrower outer perianth segments. See the following for images:

    Karlsruhe University Botanical Garden
    same website as above

    Unfortunately, common names are often troublesome when trying to locate and positively identify plants. An Internet search on "queen of the night" brings up numerous plants (sweet peas, jasmines, cestrums -- even marijuana cultivars) before one encounters a cactus entry. Similarly, numerous night-blooming cactus species are known as queen of the night.

    Both cactus species (Selenicereus and Epiphyllum) are widely cultivated in the tropics, but Dutchman's pipe cactus is more commonly available commercially, because it is much easier to grow (more adaptable to indoor culture) and its unarmed, flattened, leaf-like stems are more attractive than the spiny, sinuous stems of the queen of the night.

    Seed or cuttings should be easily available through many of the numerous seed (and cuttings) exchanges on the Internet, and particularly through cactus and succulent societies.

    Good luck!
     
  4. night blooming cactus

    We have a night blooming cactus similar to the flower of Queen of the night, except ours grows on a tall thin trunk straight from the ground rising about 1 metre and about 2-3" thick on a very very prickly stem.
     
  5. Caroline

    Caroline Member

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    Queen of the night nomenclature?

    Hi Douglas,

    I was trying to find the name of this beauty and someone suggested "Cereus Hildmannianus" (on the cacti forum at gardenweb.com)

    How does that fit in with other suggestions in the current forum?

    C. Hildmannianus seems to go by "queen of the night" in some circles...
     

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  6. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Indeed, the plant pictured looks like Cereus hildmannianus (syn: C. peruvianus), and although it is sometimes called "queen of the night," it is quite unlike Selenicereus grandiflorus, as discussed above. Selenicereus flowers are rather ephemeral, lasting only a few hours. They are strongly scented to attract pollinating moths, whereas those of C. hildemannianus are less fragrant, longer lasting (probably more than 24 hours) and are reported to be pollinated by bees (the floral structure suggests otherwise, however, and they are probably visited by a variety of bees, beetles, moths and bats).
     
  7. Caroline

    Caroline Member

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    I'll check how long the blooms last and get back to you!
     
  8. Caithleann

    Caithleann Member

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    This is an old thread I know, but then again, in the botanical world threads don't age, do they?

    In response to the last message here by Douglas, the Cereus Hildmannianus is indeed called "Queen of the night" because it blooms only for the time that it is dark. Not for 24 hours. The flower begins to open just before sunset and closes within an hour after sunrise. So, depending on your location this time will vary from 12 to 15 hours tops.

    I first encountered the Cereus Hildmannianus K. Schum in South Africa where they are quite common. I am therefor a bit puzzled as to why they have been listed to be growing natively in Argentina and Brazil only in various databases in the US.

    Seeds are readily available at the plant itself if you are lucky enough to be near one, but I have never seen them commercially. Anyone?

    The cactus that I had in my garden in South Africa when I lived there was a small "Queen of the Night" that started producing blooms in the last year I lived there and I was hellbent on getting it to produce seeds, so the night that its only flower bloomed I drove to a friends place 30 miles away that had a large cluster of that cactus and took one of the blooming flowers and pollinated the flower of my plant with it. After the flower closed and wilted I would know within days whether I was successful. And indeed, after several days the now limp and blackened body of the flower fell off leaving only the pistil and its long stigma. It takes about two months for this small green ovary to grow into a bright red fruit that looks like a small apple (hence the other common name; apple cactus) that splits open to reveal a very white and sweet content dotted by small black seeds for the birds to feed on. This fruit is edible for humans too but birds are the main propagators. The seeds MUST pass through a bird's uricotelic system before they will be viable. The uric acid "acivates" the seeds.

    Anyone interested in growing this plant from seeds found at the cactus itself and not in possession of birds can activate them by immersing them in a bath of coffee for 8 hours. That should do the trick :) Coffee has the same effect on the seeds as uric acid.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2006
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Tubular white nocturnal flowers are typical of a number of cacti in at least several genera. Plant aware visitors to Honolulu will be acquainted with the night blooming cereus (Hylocereus undatus, Cereus undatus) naturalized and cultivated there, depicted on calendars and postcards; elsewhere the gooseneck cactus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) is prevalent as an indoor specimen.
     
  10. Caithleann

    Caithleann Member

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    I am not sure what this is in answer to or is it an invitation to come and look at those?
     
  11. janski

    janski Member

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    I need advice on how to optimize flowering of buds on a small [1-foot tall, 5 inches wide] cactus [Cereus Hildmannianus]. Despite its small size, it has about 20 visible buds (so far) showing. This happened the past few years, but only 1 or 2 of the buds develop into large blooms (about 6 inches wide), with the rest of the buds dropping off at some stage before blooming.

    The cactus is planted in about 90% sand, and sits in full sunlight, here in St. Louis, Mo., from late May until late Sept, after which it winters in the house. I've been setting out the cacti during summers for the past 5 years, which apparently stimulated blooming.

    Any suggestions for how to get most of those 20 buds on the small cactus to develop into full blooms?
    Could addition of defined nutrients optimize its flowering output?

    This potted cactus was derived from a larger plant when it broke off. The original plant was part of ornamental cactus variety pot, purchased more than 20 yrs ago from a department store. The Cereus Hildmannianus was the center cactus in the display, which kept growing, and now I have three separate pieces of it, the 1-footer, plus two other pieces growing in separate pots, each of which are about 5 ft tall, one of which has a 3-ft arm. The two larger pieces produce as many buds as the 1-footer, but all the buds on the larger plants develop into full blooms. It may be that so many buds on the 1-foot cactus is just too much for it and some regulatory secretion from the most developed bud may cause the other buds to drop off, just because those other buds are so close to each other, which is not the case on the two larger plants.

    Any thoughts?

    I noticed in the post by Caithleann that she pollinated one of the flowers on her Cereus Hildmannianus with another plant 30 miles away. Presumably, because my three plants all have the same genetics in coming from the same original plant, I will need to find another Cereus Hildmannianus plant for pollination to have my plants produce fruit and seeds? The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis may be of help.

    Thanks
     
  12. Caithleann

    Caithleann Member

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    That's your answer right there. Desert plants have the ability to ensure their own survival through extreme drought adaptation. Some plants such as the Creosote bush do this very effectively. This plant has a deep and extensive root system which has the ability to find water from a wide area and inhibit a competitor, the Bur Sage or Burro Bush, from growing within its sphere of influence so that it has enough room and water for itself. This very same survival rule applies to many other plant species including your mature but undersized Hildmannianus cactus. This and many other cactus species will sacrifice most of their flowers (which are gross water wasters compared to the parent plant) if there isn't enough for its own needs. I think that in effect you have a bonsai cactus because it is potted which means its roots cannot go deeper than the pot. Hildmannianus has a very deep root system in nature, therefore your cactus will probably not get much bigger or be able to support all those buds until it gets a bigger container. But remember, a bigger container is not the same as more water. G

    I went out of my way just to make sure. The flowers of C. Hildmanianus bloom for one night only (14 hours max, not 24) and therefore have no bees to pollinate. They depend more on moths and other nocturnal insects. I think that they could even be self-pollinating but I am not sure about this, however.

    Caithleann
     
  13. janski

    janski Member

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    Thanks Caithleann.

    If the inhibitory mechanism by which the number of blossoms are limited is related to limitation of water, I wonder whether 'appropriate' watering my 1-foot C. Hildmanianus might increase the # of blooms that mature?

    For the past couple of years, I have had blooms on the same night on both of my 5-foot C. Hildmanianus plants (derived from the same original plant), and I have tried self-pollination of those two plants without success. So I'm guessing I will need to find a C. Hildmanianus not derived from my original plant to produce fruit.
     
  14. Caithleann

    Caithleann Member

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    Hmmm, risky. If you give your cactus more water in its smaller container, you may yield results with which you most likely will not be so happy.... Desert plants are very finicky about getting too much water in a restricted area.

    First increase the container's size so the plant does not stand in a permanent bath, the surest way to get root rot.
    How big are the containers of your other blooming plants? I doubt they are the same size. Use that size for your 1-footer and I am certain the blooms will gradually increase.

    Watering Needs: Does best with moderate water and monthly application of fertilizer in summer [from: desert-tropicals.com]
     
  15. janski

    janski Member

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    The 1-footer C. Hildmannianus is planted in 90% sand in a 1 gallon pot that is very well drained, while sitting in direct sunlight, for drying completely in only a couple of days. As such, I may be able to water the 1-footer every 3 days during the 2-3 weeks it takes the small buds to grow into blossoms, and then stop the watering after the blooms are done, without much risk for root rot.

    On the other hand, the two 5-footers are potted in 50% sand/50% dirt, which take longer to dry after watering. The younger, narrower 5-footer is in a 2-3 gallon pot and the older, wider one in a 3-4 gallon pot. I suppose the larger pot size for the 5-footers could explain their larger height than the youngest 1-footer, which is as wide as the less wide 5-footer.

    However, I've also wondered whether I may not have had sufficient nutrients in the 90% sand for as much growth that occured with the two 5 footers, and maybe more frequent fertilization would have created more growth in the 1-footer. But I probably would not do that because I like having the shorter "bonsai" plant. When it blooms, it can be easily carried anywhere to show off its blossoms, whereas the two 5-footers are very heavy and awkward to move, requiring a dolly to move them around.
     
  16. Caithleann

    Caithleann Member

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    Yes, well, if it is to be a showpiece that is easy to carry around without fear of being perforated at inopportune moments then I can understand why you would want to keep it in its present size; 2 blooms will be your lasting legacy :)

    The size problem was answered adequately by the difference in container size and soil mix so, should you have a change of heart and want more flowers, you now know what to do.

    As regards to the sand, where did that sand originate?
    Is it fine sand or coarse, grainy sand?
    Did its original location support desert growth, more accurately, the Cereus Peruvianus/Hildmannianus?

    Those are important considerations when tracing the growth history and "performance" of a cactus, so to speak.
     
  17. janski

    janski Member

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    The sand in the pot of the 1-footer C. Hildmannianus is a fine sand, but gravel is near the bottom of the pot. I do not know the source of the sand or dirt in any of the three pots. I used what ever sand was available at the time, some of the sand was from bags bought from a store, which may have originated from anywhere.

    When we started transplanting this cactus 20+ years ago, it was an experiment, without any knowledge of what we were doing, just wanting to remove this disruptive over-growing cactus from the other cacti that were dutifully staying within the bounds of the decorative clay bowl-like pot, not expecting so much success in growth, certainly not the flowerings which greatly surprised us the first time, about 5 yrs ago, when we started setting the plants outside during the summers.

    Today, I started watering the 1 footer, and I plan to continue to water it whenever the sand/dirt feels dry, until the buds all fall off or bloom. It's interesting that the little 1-footer has about 20 buds, with a bud in more than half of thorn locations, less than 1 inch apart, and the two 5-footers are only producing 1 bud at a time this year. Last year, however, one of the 5-footers had 5 open blooms on the same night, with new blooms on 4 consecutive nights.

    If I get blooms on the same night again, I will again try to cross pollinate the flowers, but I expect I will need to find another C. Hildmannianus plant with a flower if I expect to ever have fruit on my 3 plants.
     
  18. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I would assume aborting flower buds on a cactus to indicate it got too dry while these were trying to develop. Maybe this isn't necessarily the case or always the case, but that's my impression.
     
  19. Caithleann

    Caithleann Member

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    Falling blooms are not the primary indicator of a cactus that is under water stress. If a cactus is already stressed it won't produce many buds in the first place. Other reasons may be present that can cause sudden water loss which prompts a cactus to drop flower buds. Damaged spines are a sure way to lose water and cause heat buildup in a cactus for example.

    Dropped flowers are not necessarily a result of water shortage, I have seen blooms fall off cactaceae while they were swollen with water. Too much water is also a cause of dropping flower buds. A Cereus Peruvianus/Hildmannianus and generally most cactaceae that are under water stress show that in their columnar ribs, where shrinkage from lack of water becomes visible as wrinkles.

    Blooms always appear on top of the spine aureoles as does new growth of branches. Spines are essentially leaves that act like cooling antennae.

    The reason why blooms fail to develop is more often caused by lack of nutrients rather than a lack of water. Fine sand is better able to trap and retain nutrients than coarse sand but if it was cleaned before its first use as a soil, then it won't have any nutrients. I suggest you use some fertilizer once a month or so and see what happens. Just dousing it with water when the soil "feels" dry is contrary to what I wrote in an earlier message and may give you reasons to grieve later on. It doesn't rain often in a real desert and yet cactaceae bloom abundantly regardless...
     
  20. janski

    janski Member

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    Caithleann, the idea that sufficient-fertilizer may be more important than sufficient-water sounds like a reasonable theory. Besides, lately, we've been receiving a good rain (0.5+ inches) here in St. Louis at least once each week. None of the 20 buds on the 1-footer C. Hildmannianus have dropped yet, but it's early.

    The 1-footer has always appeared healthy, maybe more so than the growing 5-footers, but it just has not grown much (e.g. 3 inches in about 6 years) in the small pot. I fertilize it 2-3 times per year, using Miracle Grow, which may promote health but not growth? If so, that's fine. However, the two 5-footers got the same fertilizer, suggesting the lesser growth may be more related to something like the smaller pot size, or the higher sand-ratio, than the fertilizer. It makes sense that 'appropriate' fertilization might result in optimal blooms.
     
  21. A Murnaghan

    A Murnaghan Member

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    Have just joined after receiving about 15 Photos of the Day - I'm captivated and am learning so much.
    A photographer at a table at Granville Island Market this aft. showed me a photo of Queen of the Night...so I came home and have beeing fascinated even more about this plant. How awesome.
    Here's an informative website re the Queen!
    http://www.gardens.co.nz/PlantoftheWeek.cfm?NLID=138
     

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