A once-a-year, one-night event—the mass flowering of night-blooming cereus—is starting now: a report from Kelly Houle

June 5, 2020 • 8:16 pm
Around this time four years ago, I did a post—or rather, artist Kelly Houle wrote a post—on the rare mass flowering of the night-blooming cereus. It occurs on only one night per year, and tonight’s the night in Arizona. In fact, the livestream is starting ten minutes from the time this post goes up. Kelly has kindly written a brief account of what should be happening very shortly—within an hour or so. Don’t miss it: the flowers are gorgeous.

Here’s Kelly’s new report.

Tonight is the long-awaited mass blooming of the “Queen of the Night,” a species night-blooming cereus native to the American southwest.  Each year around this time, Tohono Chul Gardens in Tucson, Arizona opens opens their large collection of Peniocereus gregii to the public for nighttime viewing of the spectacle.  The buds bloom together on a single night sometime between May and July, but predicting the exact night they will open is a tricky business.  The buds are measured daily leading up to the special night to try to determine the exact date, and the event is announced the same day it happens.  Normally, the park throws a big party with music, food, and lots of visitors who go on a long stroll through the desert to observe the flowers by lantern light.  The revelers stay well into the night, and the park opens early the next morning for anyone wanting to catch a last glimpse before it’s all over.  This year things are different, and the event will be live streamed, so anyone can see the plants virtually.

This is the exact location where the live stream will begin tonight at 6:30pm Arizona time:

You can find more information about the plant on its Wikipedia page.

Below is a watercolor study I did of the night blooming cereus and desert ironwood earlier this year from photos Ken and I took at Tohono Chul.  The cactus often grows in the shelter of the desert ironwood, which acts as a nurse plant.

Peniocereus gregii and Olneya tesota
Kelly M. Houle, 2020



16 thoughts on “A once-a-year, one-night event—the mass flowering of night-blooming cereus—is starting now: a report from Kelly Houle

  1. I’m oddly enjoying myself watching Real Tine with Bill Maher & this flower blooming at the same time.

  2. Thought it’d be like watching paint dry, but no! This is wonderful, a very special treat.
    Thank you, Kelly Houle.

  3. Cos of the time difference I missed this post and missed watching the live show but I’ve just watched it on the link and, WOW! What a fantastic show. The plants look dead to start with but then it all starts and you end up with the most beautiful flower.

  4. Kelly, your watercolor is stunning. I love the composition, with vines trailing off. Absolutely beautiful.

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