Night Blooming Cereus (Cyrus)

Hawaiian name:Pa-nani-o-ka
Botanical name:Hylocereus undatus
Common name: Night-Blooming Cereus
This profoundly exquisite, large cupped cactus flower that opens in the evening to reveal long, white feathery petals and an inner mass of yellow stamens with a long, radiating stigma.

The night blooming cereus is an easily grown plant given proper food soil and light conditions. Take a second to read thru this page for bits of useful information on the plant and documentation on growth and bloom.

This page also contains a time lapse sequence of Night Blooming Cereus photographs, video of a bloom and supporting date/time information. I became interested in caring for Cereus plants when given a cutting by a friend. The next year the plant bloomed, as documented on this page. Caring for Night Blooming Cyrus plants has not been difficult, if you can keep from letting surprise early and late frost get them. More about the care, time lapse and information is below...

A little about the plant known for it's "Night Blooming"

First discovered by early navigators in the jungles of Central and South America, cutting of the night blooming cereuss were taken to Europe. The first record of these plants is 1753. The name "Epiphyllum" was given to them, meaning "upon the leaf" in reference to their habit of sending out their flowers from the edges of the "leaf". Hybridizing of these cacti from the new world can be traced back to England in 1811. Enthusiasm soon spread to France, Germany and Belgium. Before 1900, seeds and cuttings were sent to the United States, contributing to the early knowledge of these fine plants here. Since then, Southern California, with it's favorable climate, has become the Epiphyllum capitol of the world. The flowers of the Epiphyllum species, with only one exception, are all white, or white with a touch of yellow. The exception is Epiphyllum ackermannii, which has red flowers. The Epiphyllum hybrids we have today are the results of hybridizing by many people over a great number of years. By crossing the species with related genera, such as Selenecereus, Hylocereus, Heliocereus, Nopalxochia and possibly others, as well as crosses between species, hybrid with species, white and purple, pink, rose and red. Combinations of colors, tints and shades, make some of our hybrids almost impossible to describe. The various shapes and sizes, the delicate or brilliantly iridescent colors of the hybrids, make them the most beautiful flowers in the entire succulent world. Because of the many variations, and the fact that these container grown plants are easily propagated from cuttings, this plant family is one of the most rewarding you can grow.

New timeline shots of The Night Blooming Cereus Bloom of 2013

As noted in the picture index below, when the buds get to be about a foot long, the bud is close to epening. Have friends and neighbors show up about 17:00, when the giant white buds begin to slowly unfurl.
Petal by petal, hour by hour, the thin creamy outer petals unfold, followed by broader pure-white inner petals, which surround yellow stamens. The flower finally reaches its full glory -- which may be as small as 5 inches across or as wide as a foot -- around midnight, give or take an hour or so.
According to the site, Flowers and Their Meaning, night-blooming cereus means "transient beauty."
The Chinese have named the plant .
The plants are very easy to grow -- provided you don't overwater. They're members of the cactus family and need a fast-draining potting soil; one's that formulated for cactus is ideal. Otherwise, add sand and perlite to the potting mix. Only if you live in the frost-free South can you grow them in the ground. (Can you believe that the University of Hawaii has a hedge of night-blooming cereuses? Wow! The name of the plant in Hawaiian is Pa-nani-o-ka.)
Place them in full sun indoors and let the soil dry between waterings. Outdoors, you may want to give the plant a bit of afternoon shade, depending on how far south you live. In Zones 6, 7 and 8 (upper and middle South), full sun is recommended. (If the leaves develop "burned" spots, a bit more shade will be welcome.) Always let the water run out the hole in the bottom.
Some gardeners almost never fertilize these plants. Others like to give them a monthly drink of Peters 20-20-20, Miracle Gro or Super Bloom once a month from April until September. If you own a reluctant bloomer, it won't hurt and it may help.
The most common reasons that the plant doesn't bloom are too little sun and not enough age. Often they don't bloom until they're more than five years old. But this varies widely. Generally, they produce a few blooms, then more and more.
Whatever you do to try to induce flowers, don't repot the plant. Like Christmas cactus, night-blooming cereus likes to be pot-bound.
Probably the biggest drawback to the plant is that - like orchids - the flowers is awe-inspiring, but the foliage leaves a lot of be desired. That's another way of saying that The strap-like leaves are ugly. You may get used to it: sorta like bulldog owners who say their pets are so ugly they're cute. But when it comes time for the blossoms to open, the appearance of the leaves isn't noticed a bit.
There are a number of cactus relatives that may go by the common name of night-blooming cereus, but Hylocereus undatus is the plant that gets the official nod for the name. Gardeners also confuse some of the epiphyllums with night-blooming cereus (although their flowers open during the day). But if the blooms are any color but white, it's not Hylocereus undatus.
I've been told that squirrels also appreciate this spectacular plant. Not so much for what it looks like, but what it tastes like. Evidently they think the buds are quite a gourmet treat. If you have this problem, move the plant to a screened porch when the buds begin to grow.

More Info from a different Source


Night-blooming cereus is a clambering, almost vinelike perennial belonging to the Epiphyllum group, of which Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is also a member. It produces leafless, fleshy, three sided stems that will climb a support or scramble all over the floor, if you let them. Prickles often appear along ridges of the stems, as do brown aerial rootlets, which help to anchor the plant. In summer, generally from July to October, large, prominent buds appear. When they're ready to open, they do so in dramatic fashion, literally before your eyes--you can see the movement. The spectacular blossoms (white with yellow stamens), may be a foot long. Like many nocturnal flowers, they release a heady perfume to attract night pollinators.


Night Blooming Cereus Blossoms remain open only one night. After they close, they form showy red fruits, about four inches long, which are said to be edible. (I've never tried it personally and really don't plan to either!)


You can grow this plant outdoors in south Florida, where it's quite useful along the coast, because of its salt tolerance. Farther north, it's strictly a houseplant. It prefers a well-drained soil with organic matter added--a half-and-half mixture of sand and commercial potting soil should do. Feed it monthly during spring and summer with water soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted to half strength. To encourage annual blooming, cease feeding during winter and reduce watering during this time too, letting the soil go slightly dry between waterings. Rootbound plants tend to bloom better, so don't repot this cactus very often. When it begins actively growing in spring, increase watering so that the soil stays moist but never soggy.


You can start plants from either seeds or cuttings. I recommend the latter--it's so easy! Just cut a short section from a mature stem, dust the cut end with rooting powder and place it in a moist vermiculite. It should be rooted within a month. Rooted sections should bloom within two or three years.

Calcualted Bloom Date Figures

In this area, I'm posting calculation's based on average growth of a single bud. Measurements are taken at set intervals. Projections are made based on growth per minute, to achieve a length of 1 Foot. Also, a chart showing progression of Growth/Minute

Data collected on the Night Blooming Cyrus from 9-13 through 9-27 show's a bloom date of 9-27-01. Data collection has stopped due to the difficulty of measuring the curved bud's.

Projected Bloom Date for the Night Blooming Cyrus


This link show's picture's of the Night Blooming Cyrus' bud taken on a weekly basis.
This link show's raw daily pictures of the Night Blooming Cyrus, no text.

The Night Blooming Cyrus Bloom's
Here are a few pictures I found on the net of Night Blooming Cyrus'

Pictures of my Night Blooming Cyrus

The cutting of a friend's Night Blooming Cyrus, recieved in the summer of 2000, was placed in releativly well draining soil, 4" pot, for approximately 3 months. The plant, with new roots, was then put in a handmade pot, picked out to complement the ugly leaf/cutting, where it lived until late summer of 2001. During a violent storm, the plant was knocked off of it's stand, and found exposed, on the bring of death, the following morning. I quickly preformed emergency operations, and the plant had a new home in a cheap plastic Home Depot pot. Seeing that the plant was extremely root bound, the Home Depot pot was the only one on hand that was the correct size.

The Bud's
Labor Day weekend of 2000, I was preforming my regular inspection of all my plants, and there they were!!! I've not counted, but I'm guessing 20-30 buds.

Here's some pictures taken on 9-4-01.

Below, you will find pictures, taken daily, of the Night Blooming Cyrus bud's. Pictures were taken during the entire month of September, and the first 3 days of October, when the Night Blooming Cyrus bloomed. The progressive growth of the bud's is especially interesting. Enjoy!

I've also started taking some pictures with a ruler in the frame. See link - Ruler Pics
Additionally, here is a weekly updateWeekly
Here are some misc. pictures of the plant.

Picture(s) taken on 9-7-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-8-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-9-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-10-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-11-01.

Above is a picture of the whole plant. There are 7 Maturing Buds on the plant now. As noted above, we started with 14 buds. Another died yesterday. "Only the strong survive". It is interesting to note that on two different locations, not visible on the picture, the plant has bud's on oposing sides of the same leaf. The bud's are about 1" long today. Temperature has stayed around the lower 90's-mid 80's for the past two weeks, when the bud's first appeared. The night's have been cool.

Picture(s) taken on 9-12-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-13-01.

Note: We're down to 6 Bud's. They all look healthy. :)

Picture(s) taken on 9-14-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-15-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-16-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-17-01.

OK, Now we're down to 5 buds! Interesting how the healthy survive. As noted above, there were two leaves with blooms on opposite sides of the leaf. Somehow, a decision was made. Both of the leafs only have one bloom now.
Fallen Bud's

Picture(s) taken on 9-18-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-19-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-20-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-21-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-22-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-23-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-24-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-25-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-26-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-27-01.

Below are pictures of each of the four bud's on the plant. They are each about 1' long.

Picture(s) taken on 9-28-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-29-01.

Picture(s) taken on 9-30-01.

Here is another picture at 17:00. Notice the swelling at the middle of the bud.

The bud's are starting to open, and the time is 18:00. This picture was taken at 19:00

OK, It's blooming. Approx. 10:00PM

Images taken on 9-30-01 of the plant and blooms.
Time Lapse video. 2 Seconds/1 Minute