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Why Do Cactus Plants Bloom At Night

When we think of flowers, we often picture them in the picturesque sunlight. If you see your cactus blooming at night, you might be shocked. You immediately start to wonder: why do cactus plants bloom at night?

Cacti only bloom at night because the insects that pollinate their flowers are around at night. Plus, blooming at night means a cactus does not have to compete with other plants to be pollinated. 

Like every plant and animal, cacti must compete for resources and have adapted their blooms to happen during the night. Keep reading if you want to learn more about this interesting aspect of cactus plants.

What Time Of Day Do Cactus Flowers Bloom

Since there are many varieties of cactus plants that you can purchase, there are also many times that the cactus plants can bloom.

You’ll find that most cactus plants bloom in the early morning, probably before you’re even awake. Their flowers will be gone by the time you eat lunch, so you only have a few hours to enjoy these blooms.

Some types of cactus will bloom all day long with enough sunlight but will only last for about two weeks under the best conditions.

Finally, you have cactus plants that bloom in the middle of the night, well after bedtime. These are a specific type of cactus plant, so you will not have to worry about every variety of cactus blooming during the night.

Why Do Desert Plants Bloom At Night

As we’ll discuss, some types of cactus that bloom at night are not native to the desert, but regardless, the reason is that there is less competition between pollinators at night than in the daytime.

Many cactus plants have adapted to use insects and moths as pollinators.

It might be surprising to note, but the flowers on most cactus plants are wonderfully fragrant because the plant needs to attract insects during the night, so they need to have an enticing smell.

Cactus plants in dry areas, like deserts, also need a way to conserve water because there is such little rainfall. It will take longer for cactus plants to bloom because the plant works slower, but it will happen.

Blooming at night also means lower temperatures, allowing the cactus plants to conserve more water. Deserts are often much cooler in the shade or at night since there is no heat from the sun, but even a few degrees cooler will help cactus plants flourish.

I also want to note that you won’t necessarily find a variety of night-blooming cactus that is brightly colored. Since the cactus plants do not bloom during the day, they do not have the same amount of sunlight to give them bright colors.

What Is The Name Of The Cactus Plant That Only Blooms At Night

Cacti that bloom at night have a catch-all term for all the varieties of cacti called night-blooming cereus. There are generally numerous types of cereus that fall into this category, so let’s cover a few of them here in more detail.

Orchid Cacti

When it comes to Orchid Cacti, you can choose varieties that come in pink or red. If white is more your speed, there is an option for you too!

The Red Orchid Cactus acts more like a flower than a regular succulent cactus because it is grown in a hanging basket. In fact, you might not even be able to tell the difference between this cactus and a regular flower!

The Pink Orchid Cactus is another interesting type of cactus because it can grow right on trees in the wild! This means that the cactus does not need as much soil as other varieties of cactus that you can find.

Instead of red or pink flowers, the Hooker’s Orchid Cactus has white petals that look much more like spikes. Not only do these flowers lack color, but they also lack fragrance. Even so, they are no less beautiful!

These Orchid Cacti varieties are night bloomers, so you might miss these beautiful flowers!

Epiphyllum Oxypetalum

Epiphyllum oxypetalum is more commonly known as the Queen of the Night – an apt name for the cactus that blooms at night.

The Queen of the Night is unlike many other cacti because it is native to rain forests, not deserts. If you have this plant, you’ll need to water it more often than your other cactus plants.

As beautiful as the Queen of the Night’s white flowers may be, you won’t be able to see the great height of this plant. In the wild, it can grow to about 10 feet tall, but you’ll be lucky if it reaches two feet tall in your house.

Peniocereus Greggii

The Peniocereus Greggii is the perfect option if you want a low-maintenance cactus that blooms at night.

This cactus variety is perfect if you forget to water your plants because it only needs to be watered up to 5 times per month – that’s once a week! In the winter months, you don’t even have to worry about watering it. Nice, right?

You also only need to feed this plant about two times every year to give it the best chance at having flowers that will bloom.

If you are a low-maintenance nocturnal person, this might be the perfect companion cactus for you!

Hylocereus Undatus

If you’re unfamiliar with plant terms, you can call this cactus variety the Dragon Fruit Cactus.

Another night bloomer, this cactus is known more for its ability to bear fruit under the right conditions than for being a cactus – which may surprise you!

The fruit from the Dragon Fruit Cactus is indeed edible, but to get a proper harvest from this cactus, you’ll need to ensure that the plant is well-watered and supported to hold its heavy fruit.

This variety makes you feel more like a farmer than a casual succulent grower!

Cereus Peruvianus

I want to give those intrigued by cacti that produce fruit another option with the Peruvian Apple Cactus.

You’ll have the best chance at fruit with this cactus if you:

  • Give it a fertilizer that is designed specifically for cactus.
  • Water the cactus three times per week in the summer and barely at all in the winter.

It might take a few years before your Peruvian Apple Cactus will produce fruit for you, but it will be a welcome surprise when it finally does!

What Triggers A Cactus To Bloom

Regardless of your succulent type, it can be difficult to get your succulent to bloom. Cacti are no different, but your cactus will bloom under the right conditions and treatment.

Here are some of the ways to encourage your cacti to bloom:

  • Give your cactus a dormancy period where temperatures are still warm and do not water or fertilize your plant.
  • Put your cactus in a place where it will get plenty of sunlight,
  • Only fertilize your cactus in the spring and early summer.
  • Plant your cactus plants in soil that is made for cacti and succulents.
  • Be patient! Not all cactus plants will bloom in a year or a few years.