Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Dutchman's Pipe Cactus Jungle Cactus L, Dutchman's Pipe Cactus, Jungle CactusLady of the NightNight-blooming Cactus, Night-blooming Caereus, Orchid Cactus, Queen of the Nightady of the Night Night-blooming Cactus Night-blooming Caereus Orchid Cactus Queen of the Night

Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a type of night-blooming cereus, a type of cactus plant. One of the peculiar features of this plant is that its flowers are short-lived and only bloom during nights, typically lasting only for a night. The plant is commonly known as the Queen of the Night, or Princess of the Night. It is essential that the plant gets the right environment to grow and thrive. Read on to understand how to grow and take care of Epiphyllum oxypetalum plants. 

I. Appearance and Characteristics 

Epiphyllum oxypetalum, the Dutchman’s pipe cactus, princess of the night or queen of the night, is a species of cactus with a native range from Mexico to Nicaragua. It blooms nocturnally, and its flowers wilt before dawn. Though it is sometimes referred to as a night-blooming cereus, it is not closely related to any of the species in the tribe Cereeae, such as Selenicereus, that are more commonly known as night-blooming cereus. All Cereus species bloom at night and are terrestrial plants; Epiphyllum species are usually epiphytic.

The stems are erect, ascending, scandent, or sprawling and profusely branched. The primary stems are terete, up to 6 metres (20 ft) long, flattened laterally, and ligneous at their bases. The secondary stems are flat, elliptic-acuminate, up to 30 cm × 12 cm (12 in × 5 in). The stem margins are shallowly through, deeply crenate and undulate. Stems appear to be waxy therefore cutting may be present. Cutin reduces water loss from stems. A gel-like substance oozes out of stem cuts. Stems contain much water-filled tissue.

The flowers are nocturnal. They grow on flattened stems and are up to 30 cm (12 in) long and 17 cm (7 in) wide, and very fragrant. The principal odor components in the aroma are benzyl salicylate and methyl linoleate. Pericarpels are nude, slightly angled, and green. Bracteoles are short and narrow up through ca. 10 millimeters (0.39 in) long. Receptacles are up through 20 cm long, 1 cm thick, brownish, and arching. The outer sepals are linear, acute, 8–10 cm long, and reddish through amber. The inner sepals are whitish, oblongolate or oblong, acuminate, up through 8–10 cm long and 2.5 centimeters (0.98 in) wide. The stamens are greenish white or white, slender and weak. The styles are greenish white, pale yellow, or white, 4 mm thick, as long as inner tepals, and with many lobes.

The fruits are oblong, up through 12 x 8 cm, purplish red, and angled.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum is an easily cultivated, fast growing Epiphyllum. It flowers in late spring through late summer; large specimens can produce several crops of flowers in one season. This is a widely cultivated Epiphyllum species.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum is an easily cultivated, fast growing Epiphyllum. It flowers in late spring through late summer; large specimens can produce several crops of flowers in one season. This is a widely cultivated Epiphyllum species.

II. How to Grow and Care

Sunlight

Like most plants, the queen of the night cactus needs light to grow. Direct sunlight in the morning is essential for it to bloom, though it should be kept indirect light afterward.

This plant needs at least 6 hours of bright indirect sunlight, and a south-facing window is best for this indoor orchid cactus. If you choose to grow this plant outdoors, it should be placed in a dappled shade where it can receive enough morning sun.

Temperature and Humidity

This plant is distributed throughout semi-desert, tropical, and subtropical regions with intense sunlight, scarce rainfall, and hot temperatures.

This plant’s ideal temperature for growth is 68 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower than 50ºF or higher than 95ºF slows the plant’s growth, and dormancy begins. Make sure to avoid placing it in ventilated areas where drafts occur.

The queen of the night flower thrives best in normal humidity levels at most homes. If your home’s humidity ranges between 40-50%, you can grow it indoors.

If you live in a dry climate, consider placing it on a tray of pebbles filled with water to increase humidity levels. You can also mist the plant regularly to provide additional moisture.

This is mostly recommended if the air at home is too dry, but humidity is not a common problem while growing this night cactus.

Watering

While Queen of the Night flower may appear delicate, it is a resilient plant and can tolerate periods of drought, and does not require frequent watering.

During its active growing season, I keep a watchful eye on the top two inches of the soil, waiting for it to dry out before giving it a thorough watering. When potted, you’ll need to water slowly, wait for the water to flow out from the bottom, and then pour the excess from the tray to avoid water accumulation.

Water once or twice during the growing season in spring and summer. And water less during fall and winter -keep the soil from drying out. Choose rainwater or distilled water over tap water as it contains mineral salts that can sauce soil compaction.

Soil

The queen of the night plant grows well if it’s provided with the right soil type. This plant needs well-drained and airy soil that can hold moisture and is slightly acidic with a pH of around 5.5 to 6.5.

Make sure to avoid dry soil at all costs. Apart from the mentioned requirements, you can step up your soil game by adding peat moss, perlite, and orchid bark mix. You can also opt for sandy soil.

Fertilizing

Fertilization is critical in ensuring that your Queen of the Night flower blooms. Fertilize once a month during the active growing season.

Use phosphate-potassium fertilizer before and after blooming and nitrogen fertilizer during seedling. The fertilizer concentration should always be as low as possible. Applying low-concentrate fertilizer several times would be best instead of using a high concentration.

If the base grows slowly and is yellow, it may be a sign of too much fertilizer, and fertilization should be stopped immediately.

Pruning

Pruning is essential for Epiphyllumoxypetalum care. Night Blooming Cereus has long shoots that allow it to move around in its natural habitat. 

If you think they’re occupying too much space, you can prune them back. You don’t need to be concerned; the cuts won’t affect the plant’s growth because new shoots will grow from them. 

Moreover, Epiphyllumoxypetalum care also requires cutting away any decayed or dead parts of the plant so that the plant’s energy is directed toward healthy growth.

Propagation

By Cutting

  • Take a few mature leaves from the NBC and store them in a cool, dry place. Ensure that the cutting is at least 10-15cm long (4-6 inches). 
  • Wait a few days until the cuttings form calluses before reusing them. When the cuttings are planted, the calluses will prevent them from rotting.
  • Prepare potting soil that drains well. 
  • Use a container with drainage holes to place the soil. It shouldn’t be too large for the cuttings.
  • Plant the cuttings into the soil at the cut end. 
  • Place the plant in bright light and water when you feel the soil is dry, mainly after 7-10 days, for appropriate Epiphyllumoxypetalum care. 

By Sowing Seeds

  • Add the cactus compost to a container, and scatter the seeds evenly over it.
  • Lightly mist the compost with a sprayer.
  • Apply fine grit as a top-dressing.
  • Put the pot in a propagator or cover it with a clear plastic bag and keep it at 70°F (21°C).
  • After the seeds have germinated, remove the covering.
  • Moisten but not drench the compost.
  • Seedlings can be pricked out when they have grown large enough to handle comfortably and become crowded.
  • Take some fresh, well-draining soil and put it in a container. 
  • Place the seedlings in the pot and keep them in a bright location.

Potting and Repotting

Use fresh soil and a pot with adequate drainage holes for potting. 

Epiphyllumoxypetalum care doesn’t require frequent repotting. I would recommend repotting your plant every 7 years.  

When the plant is pot-bound, that’s when the blooms start to occur.

Following repotting, wait a few days before resuming your regular watering schedule so the roots can recover from the disturbance.

Pests and Diseases

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

The Queen of the Night flower is a unique and exotic plant that can add a touch of elegance to any garden or indoor space. While it is not commonly attacked by pests, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and diseases that can affect the plant.

Mealybugs and spider mites are two common pests that can harm the Queen of the Night flower. These pests can cause the plant to wilt and the leaves to curl, which can be detrimental to the health and appearance of the plant.

To prevent these pests from attacking your plant, it is important to maintain proper hygiene and regularly inspect the plant for any signs of infestation.

In addition to pests, several diseases can also affect the Epiphyllum oxypetalum. Anthracnose, powdery mildew, and stem rot are three common diseases that can impact the health and growth of the plant.

To prevent these diseases, it is important to practice good care habits, including proper watering techniques and regular fertilization.

Common Problems

There are some common issues encountered by people who grow queen of the night flower. If some of these issues are ignored, they could potentially kill the plant, so it’s better to know about these common problems beforehand so you’ll be able to handle them and treat your plant correctly.

No Blooms

Their nitrogen levels should be appropriate to ensure that your queen of the night flower plant blooms, as an excess of this mineral results in lesser blooms. H

arsh direct sunlight can also affect this plant’s blooming. If none is the problem, you can try fertilizing your plant in spring or fall and add banana peels as well.

Wilting

Check the potting or soil medium. Coarse textures let the water drain rapidly, preventing the plant from taking enough in. If the soil and roots look dry, you can add sphagnum moss or another medium that holds water and water accordingly to the plant’s recommendations.

Yellow Leaves

Natural aging can cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow and even dry out; if this is the case, nothing can be done to stop the process. A nutrient deficiency can also cause yellow leaves; luckily, several ways exist to treat nutrient deficiencies.

You can use a water-soluble fertilizer, which includes most macro and micronutrients. Apply organic fertilizer pellets such as animal manure and bone meal. Or add nutrient-rich compost.

III. Uses and Benefits 

Epiphyllum oxypetalum plants are known to have medicinal properties. They have been used in herbal medicine for curing urinary tract infections and certain heart conditions. It is also used for treating some respiratory disorders and bleeding conditions. The plant can reduce pain and inflammation. The plants have great significance in many cultures across Asia, including India, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) Details

Common name Dutchman's Pipe Cactus Jungle Cactus L, Dutchman's Pipe Cactus, Jungle CactusLady of the NightNight-blooming Cactus, Night-blooming Caereus, Orchid Cactus, Queen of the Nightady of the Night Night-blooming Cactus Night-blooming Caereus Orchid Cactus Queen of the Night
Botanical name Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Plant type Houseplant
Hardiness zone 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b, 12a, 12b
Growth rate Fast
Harvest time Fall
Height 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
Width 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
Sunlight Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
Soil condition High Organic Matter
Flower color Gold/Yellow
Leaf color Green