The blooming cereus night plant is more commonly referred to as the night-blooming cereus, and it is known scientifically as Hydrocereus undatus. It is a succulent plant that belongs to the cactus family, and though it spends most of the dry season looking like a dead bush, it will suddenly produce waxy blooms that only open at night. Night-blooming cereus may be cultivated in warm, dry areas, or indoors, where its particular needs can be met.
The night-blooming cereus has thin, dry stems that are about ½ inch in diameter. These gray, sparse stems are studded with small spines, and they may be erect or grow sprawling on the ground, depending on the variety. While the stems can stretch to 8 feet, they are typically half that length. The night-blooming cereus produces trumpet-shaped flowers that only bloom for a single night. The blooms are fragrant and white and are between 3 and 8 inches long. Once they fall off, the plant produces an orange-red fruit that is about 3 inches long.
In the wild, the night-blooming cereus grows in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts. It ranges from southern Arizona, east to western Texas and south into northern Mexico. It can be grown outdoors in frost-free zones, and it is suitable for growth in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. A hard frost withers the plant quickly, and it does best in hot climates. It has some tolerance to humidity and can be grown in Florida as a year-round outdoor ornamental.
When you are growing night-blooming cereus in a pot, create a potting mix that has an equal amount of peat moss, sharp sand and potting soil. This mixture ensures proper drainage for this desert plant. Pot the night-blooming cereus in an unglazed clay pot, which wicks excess moisture away from the plant and into the air. Water the cereus only when the soil is completely dry, but water thoroughly when you do. Apply fertilizer once a year in late spring, using a standard houseplant fertilizer that has been diluted to half strength.
To prune a night-blooming cereus, remove excessive or damaged twigs at a node. You may choose to let the plants sprawl as they please, or you can fence them with upright cages or a barrier made of hardware cloth. While fencing night-blooming cereus does create top-heavy growth, it also allows you to get an erect profile. Because night-blooming cereus is propagated through cuttings, you can use the trimmings to create new plants.