Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Patience is a virtue...especially for this plant

I was given a cutting 4 years ago from what I was told was a Night Blooming Cereus.  My neighbor explained that although it was kind of an ugly and gangly plant, I would be rewarded with beautiful and aromatic blooms one day.  So I have neglected nurtured my thornless cactus/succulent for several years waiting for it to bloom.

Night Blooming Cereus in the terracotta pot on top shelf
I have found sunny south facing windows in the winter to place it in (they don't do well in weather below 35 degrees F.) and have taken it outside in partial shade in summer (they sunburn in full sun).  In taking my plant outside, I have dropped the pot and then divided the spoils into many pots and given them away to sceptical daughters and friends (who really didn't want them).

My daughters still have them but I suspect they are hoping they will die by not watering them.

(Surprise: they can live a long time without water.)

In June we moved to Albuquerque and my Night Blooming Cereus plant (which is now like 5 feet tall with it's roaming and growing stems and leaves)  was placed outside on a shaded west facing patio.

Around the second week of September, I saw buds on the plant!! Of course, I sent out announcements to all my doubting family and friends about the upcoming blessed event.

The buds signaling imminent birth of flowers
I had five buds which I checked on each morning and night.  Since I knew they only bloomed at night and died in the early morning light, I was afraid I might sleep through the whole blooming affair.

Hooker's Orchid Cactus
Epiphyllum hookeri

Then on September 14th, I walked out on my patio about 8AM to check on my garden.  When I returned to the door I jumped with joy and surprise.  There were three huge white blossoms on my Night Blooming Cereus.

I could see that they were not the same flower as I thought (Dutchman's Pipe or Queen of the Night Epiphyllum oxypetalum)  but then there are several plants called Night Blooming Cereus.  I now know, courtesy of the internet,  that my plant is a Climbing Cactus or Hooker's Orchid Cactus Epiphyllum hookeri.  The flowers do only last one night and they had faded by late morning.  They have a slight fragrance but not as intense a perfume as the Epiphyllum oxypetalum emits.

The first blossoms in 4 years

The blossoms expire after 1 day.

That night, I got up at 1:30AM to find another blossom:

 Then the last one bloomed the next night:

OK, so was it worth the wait?  I think it was.

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