Hylocereus stenopterus (also called Selenicereus stenopterus or Cereus stenopterus) is a type of cactus. The Neotropics is where they come from. It is native to Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua.
The genus is named after the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene, and the Latin cereus, candle. Although Selenicereus does not resemble its remarkably slender relatives, the cereus. But the reference to Selena is very appropriate. Immediately you think of the amazingly huge flower, which is like a full moon shining in the night sky. It’s a shame that such beauty is short-lived. In the morning it will wither away.
Selenicereus belongs to the Cactus family. Natural habitats are dry tropical forests from the southern USA to the northern part of South America. It often settles on tree branches, rocks etc., i.e. it can live as an epiphyte. The cactus forms long, thin, dangling shoots. Therefore, it is most often grown as an ampel plant. Most varieties of Selenicereus bloom at night with large, fragrant flowers.
This is one of the few cacti that blooms at night and has red or purple flowers. Its flowers start to open during the day and are fully open by evening. As morning comes closer, it shuts down.
This plant looks like a liana with tangled branches. The green stems are triangular and deeply cupped on the sides. It has areolas with 1–3 mm long, 1–3 mm thick, pale brown, cone-shaped spines. The flowers are 8 to 10 cm long and grow along the branches. The flower tube is 2 cm long and has a slight upward curve. The bracts are pointy and are mostly purple with white edges. The pollen is short. The fruits are red, shiny, round, and can be up to 7 cm across. The stamens are short and outstanding. The white pistil protrudes very far. The spherical, shiny red fruits reach diameters of up to 7 centimeters.
|Recommended temperature:||night: 10-12 microns C|
|Cold resistance:||maximum up to -1 microns|
|Minimum temperature:||12 microns|
|Heat resistance:||does not tolerate direct sunlight|
|Sun exposure:||must be in the shade|
How to care?
Dragon Fruit Cacti are easy to grow, send out long vines, and produce a lot of fruit with little care. Dragon Fruit Cactus grow well in the garden in a pot or directly in the ground near an arbor or post. They add a tasty touch to any garden or patio outside. In cooler places, a Dragon Fruit Cactus in a pot can be brought inside for the winter.
Cacti need plenty of light to grow and bloom. Put dragon fruit on the windowsill of an east or west window. There is a great combination of direct sunlight and diffused light. On a southern window sill, it is too hot in summer. Therefore, shading will be required in the midday hours during the summer. The northern window sill is the most unfortunate solution. There the cactus may not bloom.
This pitaya cactus needs to be in the sun 80–100% of the time. Depending on where you live, most plants do best in full sun. At the northern end of their growing zone, Cactus should be brought inside or protected during the winter months. The patio is in zone 4b-11, which means that the potted plant will do well in colder areas during the summer, but it must be brought inside before winter.
In general, pitaya grows well in room conditions. In summer on hot days, they may stop growing. From the second half of autumn to spring they need to be kept cool (about +15 °C to +20 °C). This is to stop the cactus from growing in the natural winter reduction of light.
The roots of epiphytes are very sensitive to prolonged overwatering. Therefore it is very important to control the condition of the substrate. In the spring and summer period it is necessary to water frequently with warm water. But if the soil dries for a long time, such a watering regime will lead to rotting of the roots. Therefore, carefully analyze your conditions. In a warm, bright room, as well as in small pots, the substrate dries out quickly. Since the fall, keep an eye on the temperature. The lower it is, the less often watering. In winter coolness, it is acceptable to moisten the substrate occasionally.
For it is enough of the usual home humidity. In summer, on hot days, it can be sprinkled occasionally. Even sometimes it is useful to “bathe” under warm water. The rest of the year it is dangerous, as rotting is possible. From the second half of the fall to spring it should be kept in dry air.
Dragonfruit from spring to November should be periodically fertilized with a complex fertilizer for cacti and succulents according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is acceptable to use fertilizer for beautifully flowering plants in half concentration.
Repot young pitahaya tree as needed. Adult plants need it rarely. Once every 2 or 3 years to change the substrate in the pot is enough. A small container is suitable for planting. After all, less soil fits in it, which means it will dry out more evenly in depth. At the bottom of the pot put drainage. This will improve air exchange. Accordingly, the roots will be better supplied with oxygen to breathe. For planting, you should give preference to loose soil. You can use a mixture of leaf soil, peat, pine bark, sand, gravel. Or buy ready-made soil for cacti. For additional loosening it is useful to add broken red bricks, charcoal, etc.
Mature and dried seeds that have been stored for no longer than 2 years are used for seed propagation of Hylocereus. Planting is carried out in sandy soil with a mixture of leafy soil. The bottom of flower pots is covered with pebbles or expanded clay. The soil is moderately moistened. Sprinkle the seeds on top and press them into the soil to a depth of 1 to 1.5 cm. Containers with seeds should be in a bright place at room temperature. Sprouts germinate after 15-25 days.
The vegetative method of propagation involves using a cut stem, which is dried in fresh air for two days. The cuttings are lowered into loose sandy soil and left in a dark place. Rooting takes about one month. During this time, the stem is periodically watered and sprayed. When the first roots begin to show, the hylocereus is transferred to a more illuminated place.
A seed method is possible, in home conditions it is easier to propagate by cuttings. To do this, cut off shoots about 10 cm long. Put them in a light but not sunny place for 24 hours so that the cut area dries out. Plant in a mixture of sand and peat (1:1). Water moderately with warm water. In good light and warm conditions (about +25⁰C), roots will form quite quickly. In damp soil, darkness or coolness there is a chance of rotting cuttings.
The Dragon Fruit Cactus likes an organic cactus mix that drains well and is easy to find at a box store near you.
Before you plants outdoors
At the nursery, this Dragon Fruit Cactus grows under a shade cloth that blocks out 20–40% of the sun. If you put this Dragon Fruit Cactus in a place where there is a lot of light, the leaves may get burned. Before planting, it’s best to let this plant get used to its environment by leaving it outside and moving it slowly into a sunny spot over a week or two. This will keep the plant from getting stressed.
Hylocereus makes do with minimal care. Grows well on light nutritious soils. Cacti successfully take root in purchased ready-made substrates. Root shoots develop quickly, so it is better to pick up a roomy pot for planting at once. If the plot is located in the southern regions, the bushes can be grown outdoors. Cacti freeze at temperatures below 0 °C. Tropical areas are considered the optimum habitat.
Growing seedlings are placed in warm, sunny corners of the garden. Support is placed near the stems so that the cactus will cling to the thorns as it grows and will not break under the weight of the fleshy shoots.
Watering is infrequent. The next session of watering is organized only after the ground ball dries out. In cold weather irrigation of the soil is carried out once a week. In winter time cacti are watered only rarely. After coming out of dormancy, the plant begins to bloom abundantly.
Blooming hylocereus with long drooping stems is not inferior to other perennials in its decorativeness. Cacti planted next to a garden fence or on a balcony will eventually fill the entire available space. At night, the site will be fragrant with the intoxicating aroma of opening snow-white buds.
Hylocereus are among the most hardy of all cultivars. Often they are used as a rootstock for other succulents and epiphytes.
In the last few years, this species of Cacti has become particularly common. Of value are the tasty fruits of the plant, the pitahaya, which have been known since Mayan times. The fragrant pulp contains a lot of vitamins and minerals. The dragon fruit is commonly used as a condiment in meat dishes and baked goods, or eaten raw. The ripe fruit is used to make strong alcoholic beverages.
Diseases and pests
Hylocereus is resistant to diseases and pests. Problems with the perennial arise as a result of improper care. Stagnant water near the root zone or on the surface of the stems causes rot that can kill the plant. The situation becomes more complicated when the ambient temperature drops rapidly.
Hot and dry air are favorable conditions for the development of spider mites and mealybugs. Insect attacks are stopped by spraying the shoots with insecticidal preparations.
Mistakes in care can “help” pests to settle on your flower. Therefore, fix your care first. To kill mites, you need to treat the plant with acaricide (Fytoverm, Aktellik, etc.) 2 times at an interval of a week. Against all other pests, you can water once with a solution of systemic insecticide (Actara, Confidor, etc.). Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to choose the correct dosage. Observe safety precautions.
What are its benefits?
H. stenopterus is a species of cactus that is found in the rainforests of Central America and South America. This cactus has long been used by the indigenous people of those regions for its many benefits. Here are some of the most notable benefits:
- Pitaya is a natural appetite suppressant. The extracts from this cactus can help to reduce hunger pangs, which can lead to weight loss;
- This cactus is also a natural diuretic. It can help to increase urination and help rid the body of excess water weight;
- Dragonfruit is also an anti-inflammatory agent;
- The extracts from this cactus can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can often lead to weight gain;
- It is a natural blood cleanser and it helps to regulate blood sugar levels in the body.
“Ax” – famous hybrid
Hylocereus stenopterus and Hylocereus guatemalensis are the parents of the Ax Dragon Fruit. This type of plant also has a gene for the species undatus. The seedling that became the Ax variety came from the Asunta series. This variety is probably a cross between an Asunta 1 or 2 and a Condor. The name “Ax” comes from “Asunta Cross,” which is shortened to “A X.”
The size, shape, color, and thorns of Ax’s plant growth are all like those of the early Asunta hybrids. The parts of the plant have three sides and are green in color. The Ax variety grows quickly, but the young, soft plant parts take longer to harden and grow up.
The flower is about the size of a thumb and has purple petals on the inside with pink edges that fade into white tips. The petals on the outside are all purple. We think it is the most beautiful of all the Hylocereus hybrids with purple flowers. The flower bud is also beautiful. It looks like the hybrids in the Asunta series. In Louisiana, the flower blooms at night and closes in the morning. Compared to other types of Hylocereus, this one blooms earlier. The stigma is about the same size and shape as the stigma on a Connie Mayer flower, but it is much farther from the anthers.
Fruits weigh a pound or a little bit more than a pound. The skin of a ripe fruit is green, which makes it hard to tell when it’s ready to pick. We suggest that you write down when the flower opens and wait 60 days to pick the fruit. The purple meat is firm and tastes great. The average brix of the first fruit we picked was 19, and it weighed between a pound and a pound and a quarter.
Bruni Green Dragon Fruit Cactus
Let’s talk about another hybrid. The fruits that Bruni Green Dragon Fruit makes are rare. They are green with green tips and have white, sweet flesh on the inside. Bruni Green is a great self-pollinating variety with a high yield. It is small and weighs between 0.3 and 0.7 lbs. The white, sweet flesh inside is edible and tastes great.
This beautiful night-blooming cactus can grow in a wide range of conditions and soils. It makes the most fruit when it is allowed to climb on a burlap-wrapped totem, trellis, or your favorite tree. The huge, round flowers are between 10 and 16 inches in diameter and have a beautiful shape. They usually only last one night.
Bruni Green grows, flowers, and makes fruit at different rates depending on the type of soil, humidity, sunlight, temperature, and other things.
In conclusion, it is evident that the Hylocereus stenopterus is a unique and interesting species of cactus that deserves further study. With its potential for use in horticulture and its unique physical characteristics, this cactus is sure to capture the attention of many people. I hope that this article has provided you with some basic information about this intriguing plant and has encouraged you to learn more about it.