Selenicereus wercklei: The Night-Blooming Wonder from Costa Rica

The tropical rainforests of Costa Rica hold many botanical wonders, but few are as captivating as the Selenicereus wercklei. This unusual cactus defies expectations with its cascading stems and magnificent night-blooming flowers.

selenicereus wercklei

About Selenicereus wercklei

Classified in the Cactaceae family, Selenicereus wercklei is native to Costa Rica and other regions of Central and South America. Despite being a cactus, it thrives in humid rainforest environments rather than arid deserts.

Its most distinctive feature is the long, cylindrical stems that hang downwards, reaching up to 10 feet (3 meters) in length. These fleshy stems are green and covered in small white scales, giving them an almost fuzzy appearance.

But the true showstopper is the stunning flowers that bloom at night. Layered petals in shades of pinkish-white unfurl under the moonlight, revealing their delicate beauty and releasing a sweet fragrance into the air. These ephemeral blooms typically last only one night before wilting away.

selenicereus wercklei flower

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How To Care For Selenicereus wercklei


During the day, your Selenicereus wercklei craves bright, indirect light. A sunny window or a grow light set to a 12-14 hour cycle will keep it happily photosynthesizing. Just be sure to shield it from intense afternoon rays that could scorch its delicate stems.


Like a true rainforest native, Selenicereus wercklei loves moisture but hates soggy feet. Water it thoroughly about every 7-10 days, allowing the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings. A small drainage hole in the pot will help prevent root rot.


To keep your night-bloomer thriving, you’ll need a well-draining soil mix tailored for cacti and succulents. A blend of potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand will provide the perfect balance of moisture retention and aeration.


A little nutrient boost goes a long way for this tropical beauty. Feed it with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during its growing season (spring through fall). Just be sure to dilute it to half strength to avoid burning those sensitive roots.

Temperature and Humidity

With its rainforest roots, Selenicereus wercklei prefers warm temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C) and moderate humidity levels around 40-60%. A well-ventilated spot with bright, indirect light will keep it feeling right at home.

Pests and Problems

While resilient, Selenicereus wercklei can occasionally fall victim to common houseplant pests like mealybugs or spider mites. Keep an eye out for telltale signs like sticky residue or webbing, and treat promptly with an insecticidal soap or neem oil solution.


These trailing cacti rarely need pruning unless you’re trying to control their size or shape. Use clean, sharp scissors to snip off any damaged or overly lengthy stems, making your cuts just above an areole (the spot where new growth emerges).

selenicereus wercklei

Potting and Repotting

Selenicereus wercklei appreciates having its roots slightly cramped, so only repot every 2-3 years when it’s clearly outgrown its current home. Choose a pot just 1-2 inches wider than the previous one, with excellent drainage.

How To Propagate Selenicereus wercklei

Ready to multiply your night-blooming wonders? Propagating Selenicereus wercklei is a breeze!

  1. Start with a healthy stem cutting about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) long.
  2. Allow the cut end to callus over for a few days before planting.
  3. Fill a well-draining pot with a succulent/cactus mix.
  4. Bury the calloused end 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) deep and gently firm the soil around it.
  5. Place in a warm, brightly-lit spot and water sparingly until roots form and new growth appears.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Selenicereus wercklei like humidity?

As a native of tropical rainforests, Selenicereus wercklei thrives in moderate to high humidity levels around 40-60%. Too little moisture in the air can cause this cactus to struggle and decline.

Does Selenicereus wercklei like the sun?

While it needs bright light to bloom, Selenicereus wercklei prefers filtered sunlight or morning sun only. Direct intense afternoon rays can scorch its sensitive stems. Dappled shade or grow lights work well.

How long does it take for Selenicereus wercklei to bloom?

selenicereus wercklei

Be patient! It can take 2-3 years after propagating from a cutting before Selenicereus wercklei produces its first night-blooming flowers. Once mature, it will reliably re-bloom annually in spring/early summer.