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Cestrum Nocturnum (Dama de Noche) - the world's strongest scented plant

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Lady of the Night or Dama de Noche

Cestrum nocturnum, or night blooming jasmine, is a plant from the family solanaceae. It's other names are Lady of the Night, Dama de Noche or Galan de Noche.

I first met this fabulous plant when I moved to Spain. I was walking down the street one evening when I became aware of this most heavenly scent pervading the air around me.

I looked all around to see where it was coming from. There were roses, and jasmine, and lantanas tumbling down a nearby wall and I sniffed each in turn, but no it wasn’t from them, nice though they smelled.

20 metres further on was a large plain looking bush/tree with small elliptic shaped green leaves and tiny little unobtrusive creamy-green tubular flowers wide open. The scent came from them. It was (as I later found out) a cestrum nocturnum plant; the night blooming jasmine.

I took a cutting home and rooted it, and now that little cutting is 8 feet high and a treasure in my garden.

Dama de noche (as it is called in Spain) flowers roughly 4 times per year, but after only a few days to a week the flowers fall off and small green berries grow that later turn white.

The scent is only released at dusk and overnight; the flowers close in daylight.

Cestrum nocturnum is reputed to be the world’s strongest smelling plant, having a range of 50 metres.

cestrum nocturnum

cestrum nocturnum

cestrum nocturnum

cestrum-nocturnum

Dama de Noche and Mosquitoes and Allergies

Some people are allergic to the smell of dama de noche (cestrum nosturnum), or find it overpowering, but I just love it.

They also reputedly keep mosquitoes away, but I can’t testify to this, as I have to use skin protection almost 24/7 in the summer months here, else I get bitten half to death.

My other way of keeping mosquitoes away is to keep the house windows closed all day and all night to deny them entrance to the house, and then stay indoors, which isn’t all that pleasant when the temperatures are over 100 and I don’t have air-conditioning.

I have a near neighbour who swears the aches and pains he gets in his stomach are entirely due to an allergy to the flowers of the Lady of the Night, or as the Spanish call it, Dama de Noche.

The natives in this village speak Valenciano, and they call it Galan de Noche. Unfortunately for him, quite a few of my neighbours grow this plant.

dama de noche

dama de noche

Scent of Dama de Noche

Sometimes our street smells fantastic and it’s lovely to sit out on the terrace on a warm night and listen to the crickets chirping while the air is heavily-laden with the magic scent of the Lady of the Night.

I believe they are cold-hardy down to -11C and I planted some rooted cuttings in SW Scotland that last time I visited.

I’m told they had quite a severe winter last year so I don’t know if they survived, but they should certainly grow well in a UK conservatory.

cestrum nocturnum flowers

cestrum nocturnum flowers

Propagation of Dama de Noche

Cuttings of cestrum nocturnum can be taken by

  • Hard wood cuttings placed in water – should root in two or three months. It’s nice to take these cuttings with flowers into the house and enjoy their perfume for a few days without having to go outside or
  • Softwood cuttings, lower leaves removed and placed in a compost filled pot, with the whole pot then watered and placed inside a sealed plastic bag. They should root in about 6 weeks.
cestrum nocturnum seed

cestrum nocturnum seed

Growing Cestrum Nocturnum from Seed

Cestrum nocturnum (dama de noche) can also be grown from seed.

Wait until the seed pods turn white, squash the outer coat and remove the seed and plant it to its depth in a compost-filled pot.

Water in well, then place in a sealed plastic bag. Germination can take 4 days to 4 weeks.

If you haven't got a cestrum nocturnum plant in your neighborhood, treat yourself and buy a plant from Amazon.

You won't regret it, and you can always propagate it so that you have loads in your garden.

cestrum-nocturnum

Comments

ric on September 14, 2014:

We have this kind of plant in my mother's front house..they cut the branch regularly but still the plant still look ok. Maybe i gather the seedlings and gave it to someone who wanted it because nobody wanted here anyway. By the way i give it for free no need to worry about the payment

IzzyM (author) from UK on July 04, 2014:

You can buy them on ebay.co.uk. Keep them as houseplants as they don't like cold weather. They also don't like acidic soil. The more alkaline the better - you can add lime to compost to make it alkaline. Good luck!

Barbara Shufflebotham on July 04, 2014:

Fell in love with this whilst in Spain 6 years ago and have been trying to buy it in vain. However, I have recently bought some seeds on Amazon which came from the USA. They were sold in packs of 7 seeds, but only one germinated (at least, I hope it is dama de noche) so ordered another 21 seeds. So far, nothing has germinated after 2 weeks but after reading this article I will be patient. Any advice on the care of these seedlings would be appreciated. Are plants available to buy in the UK as Amazon could not deliver a plant to my address?

precy anza from USA on April 26, 2014:

One of the sweet smelling flowers I like. :) Our Dama de Noche is flowering now, love the smell of it.

IzzyM (author) from UK on May 07, 2013:

Contact me by email. I don't have any rooted cuttings at the moment, but have a parent and can get you some for just the postage price.

Waqas on May 07, 2013:

I really want this but cant find it in the east Midlands and ebay is charging stupid sums. :(

IzzyM (author) from UK on April 03, 2013:

Take some cuttings off it in case it dies - just put them in a vase of water and change the water often. It should root eventually.

I would be tempted to try feeding it some magnesium to see if it revives. On the other hand, it is deciduous and is it not autumn where you are? Just keep it watered and wait and see. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

nanna on April 03, 2013:

hi, i live in indonesia. I have this kind of jasmine. It always had lot's of flowers until 2 weeks ago. The tree got too many leaves , so i pruned it. But i think i overpruned it so the tree was shocked and the remaining leaves turned yellow and dry. And now i see dying branches. I'm so sad and worried that it will really come to an end. Could you please help?

IzzyM (author) from UK on February 07, 2012:

I was just looking at mine in the garden and it is looking very sad. We've had some wintry weather with icy winds, and half the leaves have just died! It still has berries on it from its last flowering, and they look OK. We don't get ground frost here so the plant will recover, happily. What climate is the Midwest?

Paula from The Midwest, USA on February 07, 2012:

Hello Izzy, thanks for sharing about the night blooming jasmine. I grew up with one not far from my house in California. I think a neighbor had it, and we could smell it on occasion. It was like a dreamy and happy smell. I would love to have one here in the Midwest where I live. Great hub on a super wonderful plant. Thanks for sharing.

IzzyM (author) from UK on August 01, 2011:

Hi Tracey, you might find it easier to plant your cestrums directly into the ground, but if this is not possible, make sure your plants have plenty 'growing space' in their pots. When you see Lady of the Night in flower around you, yours should flower too. Sometimes, though, plants take two years to flower for the first time, from a rooted cutting. Hope this helps :)

Tracey on August 01, 2011:

I live in Spain and i bought two small(ish) "lady of the night" They have grown bigger but i still have no flowers on them at all. They are both potted in big pots and i water them every evening when the sun has gone down. What can i do to make the flowers grow???

MG on April 16, 2011:

This is for Mish. Mish I live in Perth too. Could you tell me which nursery you bought your cestrum nocturnum plant from? I have been trying to get one for years but have not found it yet.

IzzyM (author) from UK on August 29, 2010:

When taking cuttings, just take a sharp knife and cut it at an angle just below a leaf node. Remove all the lower leaves so you are only left with a couple of small leaves at the top. You can dip the stem in hormone rooting powder but if you don't have any, it should still root. It'll just take a little longer.

Could your plant be pot-bound? If you see its roots coming through the holes in the bottom of the pot, you should transplant it into a bigger container with some fresh compost.

Pot-bound plants look sick too. Hope this helps :)

Sharon on August 29, 2010:

ThankyoumIzzy fir yiur help and comments it is in a pot so perhaps i should water a little more oftenas for taking cuttings is there any particular way i should take them from the plant

Thanks again

IzzyM (author) from UK on August 24, 2010:

The weather is exceptionally hot in Spain just now. Have you got the plant in the ground or in a pot? If its in a pot it may be needing even more water. On the other hand if the soil is too wet it may be drowning. Plants in the ground, once established, don't need extra water because their roots can go seek out the moisture they need underground.

Of course being Spain there are any amount of underground bugs that could be eating its roots. Now is a good time to take cuttings of cestrum nocturnum so if there are any good shoots left on your plant it might be worth potting them on. Just put them in a pot in the sun and water every evening and they should take root.I'm sorry I can't help any more than that. Csstrums are disease resistant and there is not usually much goes wrong with them.

sharon on August 24, 2010:

I have bought a dama de noche i live in spain and the plant has thrived for the last 3 months growing well , however in the last 2 weks a lot of the leaves are turning yellow and dropping off , I water morning and evening and the plant has a lot of flowers growing on it , but I am worried as to why it has suddenly started turning yellow , any ideas and solutions I would real,ly appreciate some advice

IzzyM (author) from UK on August 20, 2010:

Like sun/half-shade. Does fine an alkaline soil. Give it plenty of water its first year planted in the ground - after that its own root system can seek out moisture in a drought. Chop it back when it is looking straggly. Enjoy :)

LINDA KNIGHT on August 20, 2010:

THANKS FOR INFO REGARDING THIS PLANT. I HAVE JUST BOUGHT ONE HERE IN SAN PEDRO BUT NOT SURE HOW TO CARE FOR IT. ANY ADVICE VERY GRATEFULLY RECEIVED. THANK YOU LINDA KNIGHT

IzzyM (author) from UK on June 10, 2010:

Isn't it a fantastic plant? You should take some cuttings for propagation and sell them at that price! lol

Mish on June 10, 2010:

I have one growing at the front of my house and the smell permeates the house. Visitors are amazed at the perfume. I live in Perth, Western Australia and bought the plant in a standard form for about $30 aus It stands about 5' tall.

IzzyM (author) from UK on May 30, 2010:

This last winter was exceptionally cold. It's a pity you didn't take your cutting into the house. Very young plants with young roots are not so strong as plants that have been growing a few years. I have loads of seeds - lol - I should dry them out and open an online shop! Good luck with growing them :)

Gordon on May 30, 2010:

I certainly agree that this is the most exciting scented plant anyone will ever smell. Brought one home from Moraira last year inside an empty plastic fanta bottle in my suitcase. Flowered well but then did not survive the winter inside my greenhouse (unheated). Will bring one home again this year but keep in conservatory for the winter. I have also just got some seeds from USA $6.94 for ten seeds so a bit expensive, included in this was $3.95 shipping and handling. If you have a lot of seeds then you can make a fortune. Many thanks for the growing tips will certainly try them.

IzzyM (author) from UK on April 29, 2010:

emmm....the flower of the night blooming jasmine?

victoria on April 29, 2010:

what is the strongest flower

IzzyM (author) from UK on November 28, 2009:

Thanks Keira:)

I'm not so sure I love Spain that much with its political corruption (mind you that's everywhere)and mosquitoes, but the plants here are fantastic and I just love them to bits.

keira7 on November 28, 2009:

Mumm I can smell that perfum coming from your lovely hub.:) When reading I could feel how much you love Spain. I agree with you, it is a beautiful place. Its also good to see how much you appreciate living there. All the best to you my dear friend. Thanks for sharing. Bless you.