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Hylocereus undatus (Dragon Fruit)

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Scientific Name

Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britton & Rose

Common Names

Dragon Fruit, Pitaya, Night Blooming Cereus, Strawberry Pear, White-Fleshed Pitahaya, Belle of the Night, Moonlight Cactus, Queen of the Night, Red Pitaya, Honolulu Queen, Conderella Plant

Synonyms

Cereus undatus (basionym), Cereus tricostatus, Cereus trigonus var. guatemalensis, Hylocereus tricostatus, Hylocereus guatemalensis

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Hylocereeae
Genus: Hylocereus

Description

Hylocereus undatus is a sprawling or vining, terrestrial or epiphytic cactus. The stems are green, 3-winged, up to 16.5 feet (5 m) long and up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. They climb by use of aerial roots and can reach up to 33 feet (10 m), growing on rocks and trees. Margins are horny and undulate with wings that are up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Spines on adult branches are 1 to 3, grayish-brown to black in color and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) long. The scented, nocturnal flowers are greenish-yellow or whitish, rarely rose-tinged with green, outer tepals and bracts, up to 14 inches (35 cm) long and up to 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The fruit is oblong to oval, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long and up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) thick.

Photo via etsy.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Like most cacti, Cereus are fairly low-maintenance and hardy. Make sure they receive enough water without becoming waterlogged, especially during the summer, and fertilize them for best results. If the roots have become black or overly soft, the cactus could be experiencing root rot – cut away the affected parts and replant. Most gardeners interested in cacti should be able to cultivate these without much problem.

It may become necessary to repot your Cereus if it outgrows its container. If so, make sure the soil is dry and then remove the pot. Knock away old soil and prune away any rotted or dead roots, then replace it in a new pot and backfill with new soil. Make sure not to overwater cacti planted in new pots, as this can lead to root rot – it should be left dry for about a week and then watered lightly…. – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Cereus

Origin

The native origin has never been resolved, but is likely from West Indies, Caribbean Basin, Southern Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica.

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