Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Cacti and succulents are fascinating plants in many respects. They have interesting growth habits and provide wonderful visual texture to indoor and outdoor gardens. Some of the cacti have particular appeal because they bear fragrant blooms.
The scent serves to attract pollinators because most plants arenít capable of self-pollination.
For most people, the most fascinating thing about the night blooming cereus (Cereus greggii or Peniocereus greggii) is the fact that the blooms open at night. Native to Arizona, it normally blooms during June. This plant is noted for its extremely sweet fragrance.
When the flowers of a plant are nocturnal as that of the night blooming cereus, it often means they are pollinated either by night-flying moths or bats. In the case of cacti, the pollinating agent may well be a bat.
The night blooming cereus is one of the most spectacular fragrant cacti, but there are others with scented blooms.
Among these are ones that can bloom during the day or at night. Ferocactus latispinus, a barrel-shaped cactus with vividly colored spines, is a diurnal bloomer. The fragrance is as sweet as that of the honeysuckle.
Some Pereskias bear fragrant blooms. The small, cup-shaped blooms form small clusters during the summer months.
Some cacti lovers may be aware that Leuchtenbergia bears scented flowers. Native to Mexico, this species grows in the form of a rosette. The very fragrant blooms with glistening yellow petals are funnel-shaped, and appear on the new growth.
A number of the Copiapoas species bear fragrant blooms. The flowers, which tend to have short tubes, are usually rather large, and are produced from the crown of the plant. The petals are varying shades of yellow.
Some of the Neochilenias are quite fragrant. Native to Chile, these usually have small spherical bodies with gray to black spines. The funnel-shaped blooms may be red, yellow, or white. They usually open in the summer months.
The Discocactus are hard to grow. But if you succeed you will be rewarded with extremely fragrant blooms. These slow-growing plants have rather spherical bodies and colorful spines. The flowers are produced at the very top, and they open during the night or evening hours. They are funnel shaped, and are usually pink to creamy white.
Harrisias are night blooming plants that are originally native to the West Indies. These tall plants have a shrub-like appearance. The fragrant white blooms are very long. They usually open during the summer months until fall.
These are only some of the more commonly grown cacti with scented blossoms.