Selenicereus Grandiflorus (Queen of the Night)

 If you crave a little adventure in your life, consider adding a Selenicereus Grandiflorus into your garden space.  Sure, its scientific name is a mouthful, but when you run its common name across your tongue, you’ll feel like this succulent might offer you a meaningful part in a gothic thriller.

Now, don’t let either name create the impression in your mind that this is a fussy plant because nothing is further from the truth.  Queen of the Night may have a noble-sounding name, but its needs are met much the same way as any other cactus or succulent.

How to Identify Selenicereus Grandiflorus

This is not a difficult plant to identify.  Queen of the Night has some unusual and unique key identifiers that set it apart from other members of its family.  Here are a few features to look for when trying to identify one:

  • It grows up to thirty feet tall
  • It grows in a vine-like structure
  • Its vine-like stems are dark green
  • It produces large white flowers on its stems during the spring
  • It blooms during the night
  • Its blooms smell like vanilla
  • Its blooms only last six hours

Where Does Selenicereus Grandiflorus Grow

queen of the night flower

This succulent is native to South America, Mexico, and parts of the United States.

Uses of Selenicereus Grandiflorus

While this is certainly the type of succulent that gardeners would choose to use as decoration for their gardens, it has other, even healthful purposes.  Native American tribes have traditionally used it to treat rheumatism, rashes, fever, diabetes, and many other ailments.  Modern herbalists still consider this plant a great way to treat many types of heart issues.

How to Grow Selenicereus Grandiflorus from Seed

garden set

If you plan to grow a Queen of the Night from seed, please be aware that it will take weeks, even months, before you will see results.  Here are a few tips for working through this method.

  • Use a seed starting mix and seed starter tray if you live in a cold climate
  • These can be planted outdoors if you live in an arid climate and it is warm outside
  • Keep the soil where the seeds are planted moistened, but not soggy
  • Ensure that the place where the seeds are planted receives plenty of bright sunlight and warmth

Selenicereus Grandiflorus Growing Conditions

Just like every other plant, Queen of the Night does have a few preferences for its growing conditions.  These are not complex requirements so anyone should be able to grow one of these with little to no trouble.

Container

If you choose to grow your Queen of the Night in a plant container, be sure to select one that allows excess water to drain and excess moisture to evaporate.  Terracotta pots are an excellent choice because they are breathable, have drainage holes, and are reasonably priced.

Heat

Queen of the Night is very sensitive to the cold and should not be left out in temperatures lower than 20 ° F.  If you live in USDA Hardiness zones 10a to 11, you can leave it outside all year round; however, if you live in any other zone, you should transport it inside during rainy or wintry weather.

Soil

Requirements for soil are the same as with any other type of succulents.  Be sure to use soil that is well-aerated and well-draining so that the plant’s roots can breathe and do not get damaged by root rot.  It is possible to blend together your own mix of succulent potting soil, but I prefer premade mixes like Bonsai’s succulent and cactus soil mix.

Sunlight

While its common name may have you inclined to believe that this succulent prefers darkness, this is not actually true.  Be sure to plant your Queen of the Night in a spot that gets plenty of partial to full sun throughout the day.

Water

Just like any other succulent, Queen of the Night is susceptible to root rot and other problems due to improper watering methods.  If you use the soak and dry watering method, you can nearly eliminate the risk of root rot, fungal disease, and pest infestations.  As a reminder, here are the steps for this watering method:

  1. Test the soil before watering.  If it is dry, go ahead and give your plant a drink.
  2. Fill a tub with water.
  3. Set the plant container in the tub of water so that the water soaks into the soil via the drainage hole(s) in the bottom of the container.  You do not want the water to flow into the soil from the top.
  4. Let the plant rest in the water for up to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the plant container from the water and allow any excess water time to drain through the drainage hole(s).
  6. Repeat only when necessary.

If your Queen of the Night is planted in an outdoor garden bed, do not water it unless it is looking bad and you know that it has not received much moisture from rain or dew.  When you do water it, water the soil only and try to avoid getting any on the plant itself.

When to Plant Selenicereus Grandiflorus

It is best to plant this succulent in early spring.

File:Selenicereus grandiflorus Rich Hoyer.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

How to Plant Selenicereus Grandiflorus

You should not need to replant your Queen of the Night very often during its lifetime; however, when you first bring it home from the store, you will probably need to replant it then.  If this is necessary, here are the steps for planting a Queen of the Night:

  1. Fill a plant container two-thirds full with succulent potting mix.
  2. Remove the plant from its current container.
  3. Place the plant into the new container and cover its roots with more potting mix.
  4. Wait a few days to water the plant.

If you intend to put your Queen of the Night in an outdoor garden, follow these steps:

  1. Dig a hole in a sunny spot in your garden.
  2. Ensure that the hole is filled with well-draining soil.
  3. Remove the plant from its current container.
  4. Place the plant into the hole and cover its roots with more potting mix.
  5. Wait a few days to water the plant.

Best Selenicereus Grandiflorus Fertilizer

Most succulents do not require fertilizer, but if you would like to give your Queen of the Night a little boost for excellent growth and blooming purposes, you can feed it once during its growing season.  Try using something like EarthPods Cactus & Succulent Plant Food Capsules since these are easy-to-use, eco-friendly, and safe for your pets and children to be around.

Best Selenicereus Grandiflorus Companion Plantings

Whether you keep your Queen of the Night indoors or outdoors, you may find that a companion plant is beneficial to it.  When you select a companion for any plant, start with options that require similar care and growing conditions.  Here are three recommendations for you to consider.  All three options are so similar to Queen of the Night in their needs that you won’t have to learn any extra biology or horticulture to add them to your garden.

Fairy Castle Cactus

When selecting a companion planting, why not keep with the theme of interesting names?  This cactus can be cute and quaint when kept in small indoor pots but can grow to be enormous when planted outdoors in an arid garden.

Care Tips

Provide your Fairy Castle Cactus with full sun, limited water, and well-draining soil for optimal growth.

Pros

  • Fairy Castle Cactus has care and growing conditions that are similar to Queen of the Night
  • Fairy Castle Cactus produces blooms

Cons

  • Fairy Castle Cactus is not cold hard
  • Fairy Castle Cactus is susceptible to root rot from overwatering
  • Fairy Castle Cactus is toxic
  • Fairy Castle Cactus does not propagate via offsets

Old Man Cactus

Here is another uniquely-named option.  It is aptly named after the white wisps of fuzz resembling an old man’s beard that cover the body of this cactus.

Care Tips

Keep your Old Man Cactus in optimal health by setting it in partial to full sunlight and well-draining soil.  Water it only when it looks dehydrated from long stints without moisture.

Pros

  • Old Man Cactus has care and growing conditions that are similar to Queen of the Night
  • Old Man Cactus does not usually grow as large when kept indoors

Cons

  • Old Man Cactus can grow up to forty feet tall
  • Old Man Cactus is not cold hardy
  • Old Man Cactus is susceptible to infestations of mealybugs and spider mites
  • Old Man Cactus is an endangered species

Blueberry Cactus

If you want the quintessential cactus in your garden, you need to get a Blueberry Cactus.  This plant is what you might imagine if someone mentions the old West or pioneer wagon trains.  Don’t be overwhelmed with this piece of Southwest American nostalgia, because these cacti are actually very easy-going.

Care Tips

Provide your Blueberry Cactus with plenty of warm air, bright and direct sunlight, well-draining soil, and infrequent watering.

Pros

  • Blueberry Cactus has care and growing conditions that are similar to Queen of the Night
  • Blueberry Cactus produces edible berries
  • Blueberry Cactus spines are not dangerous
  • Blueberry Cactus are not toxic

Cons

  • Blueberry Cactus can grow up to 16 feet tall 
  • Blueberry Cactus is susceptible to root rot from overwatering

Selenicereus Grandiflorus Diseases and Common Problems

The biggest problem Queen of the Night faces is root rot caused by improper watering methods.  Take some time to learn how to properly water your cacti and succulents, so you don’t risk losing them.  If you are concerned that your plant has root rot, you can try to treat it so that it doesn’t rot away.  Here’s how:

  1. Remove the plant from its container.
  2. Dust any remaining soil from the plant’s roots.
  3. Cut off any stems, leaves, or roots that are rotten.
  4. Before repotting the plant, set it out to callous for a few days.
  5. Once the plant has been calloused, put it in a clean container with fresh and dry soil.
  6. Wait a few days before watering the plant.

If you’re unsure how to detect root rot, here are a few things to look for:

  • A rotting smell
  • Blackened leaves and/or stems
  • Soggy soil
  • Translucent leaves and/or stems
  • Yellowed leaves and/or stems

Where to Buy Selenicereus Grandiflorus Plants Online

Personally, I prefer to purchase plants online rather than seeds.  If you feel the same, consider buying your Queen of the Night from one of these shops:

Lisa Plant Shop

CA Succulent Garden

Plants with a Purpose

FAQs

Question: Is Queen of the Night Toxic?

Answer: Yes and no.  It is not listed as toxic, but it does have a tradition of being used for medicinal purposes.  With this in mind, it is best to consult with a professional herbalist before consuming or using any component of this plant.

Question: How Are Succulents Different from Cacti?

Answer: Cacti are considered a subgroup of succulents, so this means that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.  You can tell these two groups apart by their leaves, areoles, and land of origin.  Here are a few distinguishing features:
Typically, cacti do not grow leaves, but succulents typically do.  
Cacti grow bumps called areoles that produce the needles that make them famously treacherous.
Almost all cacti originate in the Americas, but succulents originate in many regions of the world.

Question: Can Queen of the Night be Propagated via Cuttings?

Answer: Yes, this is actually one of the best ways to propagate this succulent.

Concluding Words

Now that you have met the magnificently beautiful Queen of the Night, I won’t be surprised if you hop over to an online shop to purchase several tonight.  This is one of those rare beauties that you do not want to miss out on.  Whether you have tons of garden space or just one tiny spot amongst your window sill plants, you need to get one of these lovely plants as soon as possible.  

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