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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 lithophytic or hemiepiphytic cactus with creeping, sprawling or clambering stems. It branch profusely. The stems are green, with generally 3 ribs, up to 33 feet (10 m) long and with joints up to 4 feet (1.2 m) long. They climb by use of aerial roots. Margins are horny and undulate with wings that are up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide. It has 1 to 3 conical spines. They are grayish-brown to black and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long. The scented, nocturnal flowers are white with green outer tepals and bracts, up to 14 inches (35 cm) long and up to 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. They appear in late spring to early summer. The fruits are oblong to oval, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long and up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) in diameter.

Photo via etsy.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 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.

These cacti propagate quite easily from cuttings. Simply sever a branch and replant in moist, well-drained soil.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Cereus.

Origin

The precise origin of Hylocereus undatus is uncertain and it may be a hybrid.

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