Hylocereus undatus subsp. luteocarpus
Hylocereus undatus is native to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico where the plant grows in tropical deciduous forest, riparian vegetation and can spread up to 2,750 m in altitude.
Hylocereus undatus is a very particular climbing shrub belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has a vining habit and usually climbs up to the trees and rocks thanks to its aerial roots. These special roots allow the plant to adsorb humidity from the air and nutrients from tiny particles of soil. The plant with the ability to grow upon tree are called epiphyte and those with the ability to grow upon rocks lithophyte. Hylocereus undatus has both skills! The stems are triangular, pale green to bright green, three ribbed with wavy margins and can reach up to 10 m long. The areoles are white and woolly and bear the spines. The 1-3 conical spines are up to 1 cm long. Blooming in temperate climate occurs from the late spring to early summer and the blossom are borne at the apex of the stems. In tropical climate the plants can have up to 4-6 flowering/fruiting cycles per year but the night flowers last one night only. The flowers are very beauty and showy, up to 35 cm long, they have white petals and green tepals and have a sweet scent. The fruits are oblong, fleshy, edible, red in color with white pulpa and are known as “dragon fruit”.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. For this succulent the best exposure is direct sunlight, so you can place it outdoors but in the hottest days you can place it in partial shade. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 0° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer and going down further it no longer survives. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice, clay and loam rich in organic material. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well. During the vegetative period you can water the plant every 5 days with half a glass of water, checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant must be fed with a high potassium fertilizer in the summer. You can dilute the fertilizer twice a month in the irrigation water. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years until the plant reaches maturity. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°. To fast the propagation, you can try to immerse the seeds in water for 1 day. At 20 °C the seeds will germinate in 14-28 days.
Its name comes from Greek and literally means “woody candle”, to indicate the appearance and the columnar habit of its stems, up to 30 cm long and often tending to become climbing or creeping.
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