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Cestrum Nocturnum; The Lady of the night

Cestrum nocturnum, lady of the night or night blooming jessamine. I bought it a few years ago because of the poetic names. One night around 23:30, I was still up, and my livingroom was silently invaded by a sweet floral scent. I went to investigate and found my cestrum nocturnum blooming in a bedroom upstairs. It bloomed after a few weeks in my east facing window in the middle of winter. And I fell in love…

Since then I have been looking for fragrant houseplants.

I dream of an indoor graden wich fills our home with floral fragrance all year round. The downside is that i spend way to much time on my plant collection and get quite dissapointed with beautiful flowers that have no fragrance.

Nothing trumps the thrill of a first love, but i have found quite a few interesting fragrant plants since then. Many of wich are not commonly grown as houseplants. Only by trail and error I am able to find out what grows, blooms, and how fragrant these plants really are. If you want to know more, or have some suggestions, please let me know by commenting. I am always looking for new plants and ways to improve my growing conditions and the care I provide.

Cestrum nocturnum

Cestrum nocturnum is a shrub with glossy pointed leaves. The flowers are tubular and apear in clusters. In Australia they are considered invasive (all the more reason to keep them indoors!) The plant is toxic to humans and pets. If polinated the plant develops berries, wich are also toxic. I remove them to encourage more flowering.
The flowers open at night time, for me around 23:30, and close again in the morning. It’s a strange experience to still find the fragrance lingering in the house but the flowers baring no scent at all in the daytime! My cestrum nocturnum has green tubular flowers, although according to the internet the cestrum nocturnum has white or cream colored flowers most of the time. Whether this is due to the specific varigation I have or due to growing conditions, is still subject to experimentation.
Indoor it flowers 2 to 3 times a year. One flowering cycle last for about 3 weeks. The more mature the plant is the more frequently it blooms. Being slightly rootbound encourages flowering. It is the most intense (grassy jasmine) fragrance of all of my blooming houseplants, and I love it! For people who are sensitive to intense smells I think it might be a bit too much.
In my house it is growing in an eastfacing window wich receives a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning. It grows well in my homemade containerplant mix of 4 parts quality potting soil and 1 part perlite. It has to be watered frequently, but likes to dry out between waterings. It is a fast growing shrub, it should be cut back between flowering cycles to encourage blooming once established. It handles heavy pruning well wich makes it a great container plant. I am growing mine in a topiary shape. The leftovers from pruning can easily be rooted. I use regular potting mix, without any rooting hormone. And almost all of them root quite well.
It’s quite pest resistant, although spidermites can become a problem in winter when the humidity levels in the house can drop drasticly. I don’t have a humidifier in the room it is growing in. I just remove the spidermites regularly in the wintertime and when spring comes, the infestation normally clears on it’s own.
I am experimenting with others members of the Cestrum family, altough to my dissapointment not all of them are fragrant. I will keep you posted.

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