Nyctocereus serpentinus f. crested


Cactus ambiguus
Cactus serpentinus
Cereus ambiguus
Cereus kalbreyerianus
Cereus serpentinus
Cereus serpentinus var. splendens
Echinocereus serpentinus
Echinocereus splendens
Nyctocereus castellanosii
Nyctocereus kalbreyerianus
Nyctocereus serpentinus var. ambiguus
Nyctocereus serpentinus var. pietatis
Nyctocereus serpentinus var. splendens
Nyctocereus serpentinus var. strictior
Peniocereus castellanosii
Peniocereus serpentinus
Peniocereus serpentinus subsp. pietatis


Nyctocereus serpentinus is native to Mexico Central, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest and Mexico Southwest; the crested form has garden origin.


Nyctocereus serpentinus is a columnar cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect habit at first and a creeping to decumbent habit in age. The cactus can reach up to 5 m in length and for its habit it is perfect for hanging pots. The stem is slender, snake-like, cylindrical, arranged in 10-13 ribs low and rounded. The areoles are whitish and woolly, close together and bear the spines. The spines are 9-12, bristle-like, 1-3 cm long, whitish to brownish with darker tips. The flowers are borne at the apex of the stem and are up to 15 cm wide, funnel-shaped, white to pinkish. The plant blooms at night and the scented flowering makes this plant very appreciated. The fruits are red, edible, covered with deciduous spines and contain black seeds. The crested form grows in the shape of a wave or a brain and usually branches off from the base, taking on highly sought-after sculptural forms. The crested form is characterized by long and pointed purple spines.


This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. For this cactus the best exposure is direct sunlight, so you can place it outdoors but be careful in the hottest days. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The plant does not like temperatures below 8°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The soil should be a well-draining and porous soil, so you can use a standard cactus soil or a mix of fertile soil and sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. Irrigation is proportional to the size of the pot, the position and the season. In Spring and Autumn the plant can be watered with a glass of water every 7-10 days; in summer it can be watered every 3-5 days. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.


Propagation can be done by cutting or grafting. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By grafting you can use column-shaped cacti. Make the cut as close to the growing tip as possible, then chose a stock with a diameter similar to that of the scion. After the cut, wash away the latex until it no longer remains. Bring the scion closer to the stock and held together with elastic bands. The plants should be left in an airy and shady place for 7-10 days before the bands are removed.


Nyctocereus owes its name to the blossom at night. It shares its habit with other kinds of cacti, such as Monvillea and Trichocereus. As a whole, these night-flowering plants are called Epiphyllum.

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