For the past three years, I’ve been fascinated by an ENORMO tree-climbing cactus growing two blocks north of my front door. It winds from bottom to top and back again through the boots of a 30ft tall cabbage palm on the edge of an elderly man’s property. Last night, I convinced Maggie to stroll with me by his VERY busy corner, so I wouldn’t look like a total stalker-wierdo taking pictures of some stranger’s real-estate! As she gestured (with appropo “ooohs” and “aaahhs! ) I happily snapped photos of the epiphytic spiky vine known as Selenicereus Pteranthus:
Selenicereus flowers open between 10pm and midnight, emitting a strong, vanilla fragrance from trumpet-shaped cups that measure a foot in diameter! As these cacti age, their cylindrical stems can turn gray-to-purple as seen in the first picture. The shape of the stems varies from angular to tubular or ribbed, depending on a specimen’s maturity and growth rate; to entwine themselves around trees while climbing, they develop adventitious aerial roots.
Horticulturalists suspect this species originated in Mexico and Central America where locals referred to it as the Princess of the Night. Florida is the only U.S. state in which this “royalty” naturalized, primarily in the 5 counties of zone9 and above where the Seminole War and Mexican immigration have had the greatest impact.
As luck would have it, last weekend we saw a bunch of Selenicereus stems scrabbling from the base of a live oak into a beachside street! …
Fair game for a cutting:
I was thrilled to find such healthy looking segments with aerial AND terrestrial roots!
When I got home, I halved the longest section again and brushed each freshly cut edge with rooting hormone. After a few days in a sunny spot on the porch (to callus over,) I planted the cuttings in a single clay pot of fresh cactus soil:
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that roots develop instead of rot
If all goes well, I’ll have my very own Princess of the Night!
Until next time……
- Spreading the wealth (cluelessurbangardening.wordpress.com)