Monday, August 10, 2009

Queen of the Night

Two years ago while visiting my grandmother's garden, I brought home a small cutting from what we, the very informal gardeners we are, have always referred to as "Night Blooming Cactus." After carrying the stem on my lap across half our United States, and sticking it in small pot in my bedroom, I became curious to know what this plant was really called. I found this plant is known more commonly as "Queen of the Night," or epiphyllum oxypetalum, a very fitting name, indeed.
As a child my grandmother's great cactus towered over me, often covered in a hundred or more blooms open a night, dangling around me we counted together. I can remember taking the blooms apart, disecting the shiny petals, and looking to see where the strong, waxy stamens met in the puckered center of the flower. I can remember, even before tonight, what they smelled like, and what they felt like, these odd magical flowers. They do not open before the sun sets, and by morning, they are spent blooms, ready to be deadheaded by grandma's loving hand before the next line of buds opened the following night.
I strolled past my cactus recently to find it finally formed two small flowers! How did I miss that? I've been checking daily to see when the buds would swell--the way the flowers look the nights before they will actually open are very familiar to me. Yesterday, I know I would be waiting until tonight before the flowers would open. I'm delighted to report I have two "Queen of the Night" blooms reminding me of my childhood on my very own dining room table.
I called Grandma and Grandpa to tell them, and had a wonderful hour long chat with grandma afterward. It's funny, she speaks of how fragrant they are; I remember how fragrant they are. But I guess when you're enveloped by a 100 of them the scent is more potent. Tonight I'm burying my face in the flower, which is nearly the size of my face, to get the slightest whiff.
Here they preparing to open before I clipped them and brought them indoors:

The inside, just like I remember it.

My cat takes a drink of the freshly poored water in the vase.

Fully open. I've been carrying them around the house with me.
Now, I will putting them on my nightstand. :)
Happy Gardening.


CiNdEe said...

Just thinking about you and wondering how you are doing. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

Jamie said...

Hi! I'm here, just not doing much gardening. I have had some back pain,possibly a slipped disc, and have been trying to take it easy. The garden is just about sleeping for winter already. I have done some blogging, but on my family blog at
We did have a nice Thanksgiving. How about you?
Good to hear from you!