About 4 years ago, we purchased a night-blooming cactus plant. It was just a cutting from another plant, about 6 inches long, wrapped in newspaper. When we got it home we just stuck it in a pot of soil, watered it, put it on the lanai and then pretty much neglected it.

Nothing much happened for about a year; one day we noticed a new sprout or leaf had appeared on the top of the plant. From then on, the plant continued to add new leaves, actually they are called cladodes by botanists. As the plant grew taller, we were concerned that it would topple over, so we bought a pyramid shaped trellis to support it. It kept growing taller and taller. It is now about six feet tall and not very attractive (that describes FOG as well).

Two weeks ago we were looking at this tall, spiny, sharp edged plant and decided that it was really not very nice. We were discussing transplanting somewhere in the backyard where it would not be noticed.
As we were talking we noticed a small bump on one leaf, about the size of a nickel.

The cactus must have overheard us talking about putting it out to pasture, so it decided to show off a bit. That worked, we got very interested in the plant again.

The little bud grew fast!

The photo on the left, was taken 5 days later.The one one the right was made after another 4 days, only 12 days after we noticed the bud.

On the next day, we noticed the top of the bud was changing color a bit. The sides of the flower were starting to separate and we could small points at the ends of what we thought might be the petals. By this time, the bud had grown to over 12 inches in length. Diane’s hand in the photo gives some perspective of the size of the bud. We wondered if the flower would open that evening.

Day 14

The sun set at 8:11, we checked about 8:30, no flower yet. We thought it might not happen tonight. At 9:30, we checked again, not expecting to see any change.

Wow, there it was a giant white flower! It was really hard to imagine that in less than an hour, the flower had gotten so large. And it was not done yet!

It kept getting larger.

Twenty minutes later, it had opened even wider. It was really beautiful. One odd, thing, there was no fragrance to the flower. From what we had learned from the Internet, most night blooming cacti give off a nice aroma. Perhaps this would have developed as the night progressed, except that it started raining.
Raining is putting it mildly, a big thunderstorm moved over our house. It lasted about 2 hours and produced almost 2 inches of rain.

As the heavy rain fell, so did the flower; before long, it drooped toward the ground.  That is how we found it in the morning; hanging down as though it was disappointed it did not have its one night of glory.


Flowers of night blooming cacti typically bloom at dark and are wilting by morning. We searched the web for more information about our plant; we could not find an exact match to help us identify it. It seems that many, if not most, of cacti that flower at night, only do so once a year. I guess it means we will be hanging on to this plant for at least another year.

Just another day in Paradise!

FOG sez:

You think you have problems. How would you like to wait all year to bloom, only to have your one special night rained out? BUMMER!!!