A tale of four leaves

Three years ago, a friend, Luanne, gave me four leaves from her night blooming cereus cactus. Three years later the plant is thriving. In fact the plant has grown so large that I cannot hang it in the tree anymore. It winters on the sun porch on the little table it sets on, and in the spring, we bring it outdoors with the table to set on the back porch.

original cereus grown from four leaves three years ago

Spring 2020

The following photos will tell the story of this plant. Two winters ago, as the plant grew so large and the leaves were dragging on the ground, I broke off a few of the leaves so that the original plant could be set on a glass top table on the sun porch during the winter. The leaves I had taken from the original plant were planted in a medium sized plastic pot with mulch and the next summer – 2019, plant #2 grew and grew.  

daughter plant night blooming cereus

Early summer 2019

Oh my goodness, I thought to myself, the plant looks top heavy, so I transferred the plant to a huge, and I mean huge clay pot. Wow, it is now so heavy that I need help moving it! So what to do  with the plant over the winter?

baby cereus cactus

End of summer 2019

With the size of the original cereus, I knew that both the clay pot cereus and the original cereus would not fit on the sun porch. So I decided to give away some leaves. I wrote to neighbors on a neighborhood website about my plant giving with photos and history of my original plant. I said that I would be giving away leaves so that others could make new plants to enjoy.

Apparently people were interested as neighbors emailed me, wanting to come by for a sample to try. One by one I took leaves from the clay pot cereus  (end of summer 2019 photo), retold the plant’s story and gave away leaves to neighbors. As the cold weather approached, I still had quite a few leaves that I had taken from the clay pot cereus. So my husband and I moved the clay pot to a front porch that is covered but not closed in, put the leaves that I had taken off the clay pot cereus as well as the original plant on the sun porch and waited for the freezing weather. When the weatherman said that temperatures were going to drop below freezing, we would throw an old sheet over the clay pot cereus and hope for the best. The original plant on the sun porch was kept warm by a small heater.

Fearing that I might lose the large plant during the winter, I took some of the leaves that were left over from the clay pot cereus and planted them in a basket with mulch that Larry had made from kitchen scraps and grass cuttings. Both the large original plant and the newly potted one made it through the winter. Much to my surprise, so did the clay pot on the covered porch in the front – the plant we covered with a sheet during freezing weather.

Spring 2020 – time to put out the plants. It was still a little cold, but it looked like the freezes were past us. The original plant went outdoors as the first photo shows. the “new pot” which I had planted from leaves from the clay pot had started to grow. I discovered that over the winter the leaves had grown roots.

hanging cereus stuck in pot last winter

New pot made from clay pot leaves

Fast forward to today – April 25, 2020 –  the winter pot planted from discarded leaves is surviving. I was able to hang it in a small tree where it receives some shade during the day. Each of the leaves planted last fall is adding new leaves.

There were still a pile of leaves on the sun porch. Hating to throw them away, I chose the best looking four or five leaves and stuck those in a hanging pot. I am guessing that the leaves are growing roots. The remaining leaves, to my shame, I threw away. That hurt my heart to discard something that might have grown. Of course, since the leaves were thrown in the woods under piles of leaves, they just may be growing?

cereus leaves left on porch last winter, just planted

Last group of leaves planted

So what, you might ask, happened with the clay pot that wintered on the covered front porch. My husband helped me move the clay pot back to where it set last summer.

clay pot with cereus cactus

Clay pot plant 2020

The leaves that were left in the clay pot are now growing. I expect that by the end of the summer, this pot will be completely full and I will have the same dilemma that I had last fall – what to do with all the plants during the winter months? Please contact me if you are interested in growing your own fascinating plant.

So I am wondering – wherever this plant grows naturally, is it considered a weed? Why else would it thrive in so many different climates and conditions?

Thank you, Luanne, for this beautiful plant and the puzzles and work it has given me. By the way, when the plant blooms – only at night – the flowers are exquisite. It is usually still blooming when I get up in the morning but by 10 or 11 am, the flower is wilted and closed.

cereus cactus bloom2

Blooming cereus cactus