Monday, June 14, 2010

Nightblooming Cereus (E. oxypetalum)

Epiphyllum oxypetalum
A friend gave us an Epiphyllum oxypetalum plant a few months ago, one of the several species with the common name night-blooming cereus that are members of the Cactus family. I’m pretty sure ours is E. oxypetalum. The plant itself is honestly a bit gangly with an unruly growth habit, though not without its charm. E. oxypetalum’s special treat is its one-night, fragrant blooms. So far we haven’t experienced any blooms and it looks like we won’t this year. The friend shared some blooms from previous years so we know what we are in store for.

The first thing we did is cut it back (late spring) as it had one large stem that dwarfed the main plant. From what we’ve read, new blossoms come on new growth. From that cut stem we took several leaves and propagated them very easily. The method we used was to place the lower part of the dried-off leaf between two moist paper towels. In a week or so, roots develop. Then we cut the paper towel out (as the roots were stuck pretty well to it) and put it in soil. The photo with this post shows two potted plants, one sprouting new growth from the leaf and the other sending up new stems from the base. The photo also shows some other starts in paper towel.

Name origins: Epi = on or over and phyllum = leaf. The genus name refers to the fact that the blooms are on the margins of the leaves. Oxy = sharp, from the Greek “oyxs,” and petalum = petal. The species name refers to the bloom’s sharp-looking petals? (I don't remember them being much more than sharp-looking.) The common name cereus = Latin for “waxy” referring to the waxy nature of the plant leaves and stems.


  1. thanks for the information, mine bloomed for the first time last night it was absolutely breath taking in its beauty. Got some wonderful images of it, and now to wait until its beauty blooms once more

  2. Cool. My plants have not been doing so well. I lose ground in the winter. I think I'm overwatering or something.


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