If you've ever seen the night-blooming cereus open its buds, consider yourself lucky. This unusual plant blooms just one night each year — typically this month — with ghostly white blossoms as big as saucers. You can watch the fuzzy buds elongate and unravel; pull up a lawn chair for the all-night show. The rest of the year, cereus isn't much to admire with its gangly green stems that twist and turn as they climb tree trunks, palms, arbors or other structures. They're rarely for sale at the garden center; your best bet is a pass-along plant or specialty catalog. Well-drained soil, sun to part sun and some fertilizer now and then is all cereus needs. You can even grow one indoors by a sunny window.
Common Names: Night-Blooming Cereus, Queen of the Night, orchid cactus
Botanical Names: Selenicereus grandiflorus, Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Of Interest: Impromptu evening parties to watch the cereus bloom are a long-standing tradition among gardeners worldwide.
Yvonne Swanson, Times correspondent