Q: How should I care for a night-blooming cereus? I was given one last year and I have it in a heated sunporch.
A: Night-blooming cereus has been a “passalong” plant for decades. As you can tell from looking at it, the plant is a member of the cactus family.
Several plants are referred to as “night-blooming cereus” but the ones most commonly seen are Epiphyllum oxypetalum and Hylocereus undatus.
The plant itself is not particularly attractive but the flowers it bears in summer completely make up for that. They’re huge, fragrant and snow white, coming from ‘pods’ that emerge from the main stem. Cereus flowers are pollinated by moths so the blooms appear only at night.
Stories are passed down for generations about the times a family gathered around their cereus to watch the bloom swiftly expand on a warm evening.
That said, the care of a cereus is simple: treat it like a cactus. It needs sandy soil, a minimum of watering and only a couple of feedings per year. Of course it can’t tolerate freezing temperatures but you can take it outdoors to a lightly shaded spot in early summer and bring it in next fall.
Pieces of the plant can be broken off at leaf joints and rooted easily in damp sand during the summer.