What Do Cactus Smell Like? [Smells Bad or Good?]

Cactus can have an aromatic or an awful smell, but in general, cactus plants don’t have a particularly strong essence. Sometimes gardeners are unhappy with the way their cactus plants smell. 

What cactus smells like, depends upon a number of factors like root rot or faulty drainage that can lead to pest infestations and a foul odor.

Most cactus plants don’t have a strong smell until they bloom. When cacti are at the flowering stage, they emit a sweet and wonderful aroma. 

At times, cactus plants can bloom with a bad smell. As cactus blooms, the flowers are so dazzling and colourful, that you may be confused about what do cactus smell like because you may relate the beautiful flowers with a pleasant aroma. Unfortunately, these have a foul odour. Cactus plants, in general, have a light scent, but stinky cactus plants do exist in nature.

What Does Cactus Blossom Smell Like?

Cacti plants on maturity begin to flower, releasing a distinct perfume that makes the plant smell wonderful. This is a common occurrence in the majority of cases.

Bees pollinate most cacti, depending on sight rather than smell to search for the flowers. However, cactus plants that flower at night are sweet-smelling, and their pollination occurs by moths. The majority of the blossoms are huge and white, making them ideal moth food on gloomy nights.

Orchid Cactus

Orchid Cactus is a cultivated hybrid formed from hybridisation of indigenous orchid cactus of the Epiphyllum species bearing white blooms with other cacti having colourful blooms. Orchid cacti have a pleasant smell and are found on tree branches or trailing over the stones in tropical forests of Central and South America. 

Plant stalks have long floral tubes that bear huge white flowers, tinted pink or yellow in certain species. The flattened stem appears like thick, crenated leaves. Pollination occurs by hummingbird moths( sphinx family). In growing period, plants need shade and lots of water. In dormancy they need excellent drainage and cool, dry surroundings. 

Night-Blooming Cereus

Hylocereus undatus or Night-blooming cereus, also known as pitahaya, is indigenous to Central America and Mexico. It is grown in the tropics as a showy plant and is grown commercially for its juicy, red fruit, known as dragon fruit. 

The flat, crenated green stems can reach 40 feet in height. It flourishes in bright sun or partial shade. In hot areas, it blooms often annually but blooms in summer and fall only in other areas.

Arizona Queen of the Night

The Arizona queen of the night (Peniocereus greggii) has a grey stem that looks like a cane growing among shrubs in the deserts. It blooms with fragrant, bell-shaped flowers that produce red, fleshy fruits after pollination. Arizona queen of the night may be cultivated from seeds. 

Peniocereus is a genus with 18 species indegenous to Mexico, American Southwest, and Central America. Snake cactus (Peniocereus serpentinus) has thick stems and tiny flowers and is more frequently cultivated than other species. Several species of the queen of night store food in tubers below the ground.

Vanilla Cactus

Vanilla cactus is indegenous to tropical areas of Mexico, South America, and the West Indies.  Selenicereus grandiflorus, initially known as Cereus grandiflorus, or Vanilla cactus is widely famous as the night-blooming cereus or queen of the night. 

Slender, ribbed stems have spines on the edges and grow very large. About 12 inches in size, big, white, funnel-shaped flowers of Vanilla cactus are vanilla scented blooming just for one night. After pollination, red, fleshy fruits with black seeds develop.  

Do Cactus Flowers Smell Bad?

Cactus flowers can smell bad; for example, starfish cactus flowers are huge, light yellow in colour and release a very foul smell of rotten meat that attracts insects for pollination.

Starfish Cactus (Stapelia grandiflora)

Starfish cacti (Stapelia grandiflora) are popular as carrion flowers. These fetid but striking plants have fascinating flora ( not predators) about 12-inch (30 cm.) wide blooms. 

A native to South Africa, starfish flowers need warm, humid temperatures or a greenhouse.

Starfish cactus is not a true cactus and has a delicate, spineless and thickly skinned stem like carrion flesh. The flowers release a stinky odour after some days to attract insects for pollination.  


Rafflesia is a stinky cactus belonging to the genus of parasitic plants of the Cactaceae family of Rafflesiaceae. These species have giant flowers growing from the ground or from the bottom stems of host plants.

Rafflesia is very famous for its biggest flowers in the world. This stinky plant is without stems, leaves, or roots. Mostly, Rafflesia has different male and female flowers, but some  flowers are hermaphroditic with male and female parts in the same Flower.

What Does Jade Smell Like?

Jade plant does not have any particular smell, however white or pink flowers of the jade plant release a  pleasant, aromatic smell at night when it starts blooming. 

A very unique, sweet scent smelling like honey is given at night by crassula ovata or jade plant when it blooms. Some people consider the fragrance strong enough but it is not as aromatic as certain other plants. 

When grown indoors, this plant can emit smell for many reasons.

Mostly, external factors are responsible for it, therefore check your plant thoroughly to find the exact reason for the smell. If your plant appears healthy, it can be due to any of the following factors.

Excess water 

Overwatering Jade plant or keeping your plant in rains can lead to excess water in the pot. Jade plant, being a succulent, doesn’t like excess water in the pot for a longer time.

If the soil is wet for a long time, it can lead to root rot in the Jade plant. As the roots rot, they often give a foul smell that continues for many days if the soil doesn’t dry fast.

The roots cannot absorb much water from the soil, hence worsening the whole situation. 

This can also occur if the pot has no drainage holes. The cold climate can also hamper the drying of the soil.

Fungus in soil

Fungus is another factor that can be responsible for the smell from the Jade plant. Usually, the fungus breeds on the soil and proliferates on the plant very fast

Throughout the growing period, it can be more damaging to the plant. Rotting of the stem and branches of the plant, called stem rot, also occurs in various other indoor plants. Deal with this problem fast or it can harm your plant permanently.

How to check the stem rot in a Jade plant?

To check the stem rot in the Jade plant, feel the stem and branches of the plant. If the stem is soft and mushy, it is a sign of rot, a reason for the foul smell coming from the plant.

To solve these problems, water your Jade plant carefully and keep these things in mind before watering:

  • Water your Jade plant only when necessary: Overwatering can cause more harm to the Jade plant, so water the plant only if required or it can lead to stem rot and root rot.
  • The Jade plant should be watered every week or depending on the season and plant size. 
  • In winters, water your jade plant on a monthly basis, as the plants often undergo dormancy. Growth is also less during these months, so reduce the water frequency.
  • Allow the soil to dry completely: Allow the soil to dry out fully, before you water your plants. Insert your finger into the soil to detect the moisture level before watering.
  • If the soil is wet on the top, don’t water the Jade plant and wait for some days till the soil is completely dry.
  • Avoid watering Jade plant if you notice root rot: If you have noticed that the stinky smell from your Jade plant is due to root rot, stop watering and check the conditions of the roots.
  • Take out the plant from the pot and check the roots. If the roots are defunct, it is the root rot. One more sign that shows root rot is moist soil.
  • Stop watering your Jade plant completely or the condition will persist for many more days. Also, the plant will perish if this issue is not attended to fast.
  • Do not mist Jade plant: If the plant has wet soil or fungal problems, avoid sprinkling the plant as it will further increase the fungal issues.

What Does Poppy Smell Like?

Poppies don’t have any particular smell, but poppies can smell a bit earthy at times. Poppy seeds have a very unique, poignant, and murky smell. 

For ages, Poppies produce opium, a “milk” in the poppy seed pods. Opium is a timeworn pain killer medicine, also used to induce sleep.  

Poppies are herbaceous plants with colorful flowers.  Papaver somniferum is a species of opium, used to procure crude drug opium that has strong medicinal alkaloids like morphine used as an analgesic.


Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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