Belle of the Night

Belle of the Night


Hylocereus undatus (Dragon Fruit)

Hylocereus undatus (Dragon Fruit) is a lithophytic or hemiepiphytic cactus with creeping, sprawling, or clambering stems. It branches…

How to Become a Southern Belle

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A Southern Belle is a title that traditionally refers to a woman who has been presented into a society through a debutante ball or a cotillion. The term is more commonly used to describe a woman who embodies a certain attitude, appearance, and set of manners typically associated with southern ladies. If you believe you are a southern belle at heart, focus on exuding warmth, grace, and femininity in your daily dress, speech, and behavior. Be kind and hospitable, and you'll surely be recognized as a southern belle.

All About Arabian Jasmine

The ‘Grand Duke of Tuscany’ cultivar is a popular sambac jasmine. Source: scott.zona

Its names are many: Sampaguita in the Phillippines, Pikake in Hawaii, Mogra in India, Melati Putih in Indonesia. But the Arabian jasmine’s charm goes far beyond its waxy, tiny white flowers. Without support, it grows as a mounding and trailing shrub. But with a little help, it can also twine to form a shrubby, upward-growing vine.

Evergreen, these tropical plants are lush and full. Some, such as the rare ‘Arabian Nights’ cultivar, unleash their fragrance only at night. Others spread their sweet aroma throughout the yard constantly.

The stems of the plant are downy and hold large, oval leaves that can reach three inches in length. Flowers develop in cymes or clusters of 3-12 small blooms. Each flower is about an inch across and waxy in appearance. While white when new, these lovely fragrant flowers turn light pink as they mature, then yellowish-brown when they wane.

In their native tropical Asian environment, a stem can grow to as much as 25′ long. When naturalized in a garden setting, they tend to 3′ -10′ lengths depending on whether it’s grown as a shrub or vine.

These Oleaceae-family plants are truly garden superstars. Whether you’re growing them for their fragrant buds or foliage, there’s lots here to enjoy!

A few popular cultivars include “Maid of Orleans”, “Belle of India”, and “Grand Duke of Tuscany”. There’s a variety of others as well.

How to: Strike your own Queen of the Night cuttings

Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a Queen of the Night orchid cactus cutting.

You will soon be experiencing the joy of witnessing one of the most interesting little quirks of ornamental horticulture: the night-flowering Epiphyllum.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum. Photo - Diana Cochran Johnson

You’re now a member of the nocturnal tribe, waiting up in the wee small hours, ever-sensitive to the sweet scent of an opening Epiphyllum, part of the ‘Queen-scene’, one with the crowd that understands one Queen of the Night is simply not enough.

Completing your initiation into this secret society is simple. Just follow the steps below, don’t over-water them and keep a vigilant lookout for emerging buds at the margins.

Step 1:

Take a leaf and cut it into 4 inch sections across the vein. Make sure you don’t lose track of which end is up, and which end down. This is important!

Step 2:

Slice the bottom of your cutting into a point, or ‘V’ shape. This will make it easier to insert into the potting mix, and will help differentiate the bottom from the top.

Cut a ‘V’ shape in the bottom of your piece, leave for a few days to dry out and voila, a star is born!

Step 3:

Allow a few days for the cutting to dry before you plant it. Similar to Frangipani cuttings, Epiphyllum cuttings need to callus over where they have been cut before planting to reduce the risk of introduced disease and rotting.

Step 4

After a few days have passed, and the raw edges of your cutting have callused over, press the ‘V’ end of your cutting into some potting mix in a 4 inch pot. Water it once - that's right. Just once! Then place in a warm, sheltered position with a little morning sun, but not too much. An over-dose of sun will bleach out the deep, lush green and may burn them.

Step 5

Forget about them. Don’t water. In particular, don’t let your Epiphyllum cuttings get too wet over winter. They will rot with too much moisture.

This simple technique will work with most Epiphyllums, so plant up as many as you can get from your piece. Once the cuttings strike it’s time to move them out into the garden and watch for the emergence of the flower buds. Some Queen of the Night, especially E. oxypetalum, produce flowers in time to coincide with a full moon.

When choosing a position for your Queen of the Night it’s worth keeping in mind the growth habit of your particular species. E. strictum, for instance, is pendulous and is best suited to hanging baskets, or over retaining walls where it can hang as much as 1 to 1.5 meters. E. oxypetalum, on the other hand is rangier and loves climbing trees. It’s a good bed fellow with a large frangipani, or Jacaranda, flowering in opposite seasons.

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