Learn how to grow dragon fruit, it’s one of the most strange looking subtropical fruit you’d like to grow in your garden. Growing dragon fruit is fairly easy both outdoors or in the pot.
USDA Zones— 9 to 11
Propagation Method — Seeds, vegetative propagation
Difficulty — Moderate
Soil pH — 6 to 7
Other names — Indonesia buah naga, Khmer sror kaa neak, Thai kaeo mangkon, nanettika fruit, Kaktus madu, Long guo, Cereus triangularis, Thanh long, Strawberry Pear, Cactus fruit, Night blooming Cereus, Belle of the Night, Jesus in the Cradle.
Dragon fruit, also known as pitahaya or pitaya, belongs to the cactus family. Its flowers are unique and one among the largest in the world. It has a diameter of 25 cm and is about 30 cm long. One more feature of its bloom is: it only opens for one night and exudes inviting fruity fragrance.
Dragon fruit is native to Central America and grown throughout the subtropical and tropical part of China, Israel, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Nicaragua.
How to Plant and Grow Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit plant is actually a climbing cactus and needs support to climb on, usually as the plant becomes mature it forms aerial roots from the branches and find something to climb. So, it’s best if you’re growing dragonfruit, find something to support your plant.
Dragon fruit is a sub tropical plant, it loves heat and sun but it’s better to plant it in a spot that remains dry and receives only partial sun.
If you’re living in more temperate climate or if you’re an urban gardener and don’t have much space, grow dragon fruit in pot, it’s fairly easy to grow and adapts itself well in containers. In pot you can move and overwinter it to save from frost as pitaya plant can survive only short period of freezing temperature (below 28 F is detrimental) and frost.
Growing Dragon Fruit from Seed
With a knife, divide dragon fruit in half and scoop out the black seeds from the pulp. Wash the pulp off the seeds. Put these seeds on a moist paper towel and leave them overnight.
Fill the germinating tray or small pot with well draining but poor starting mix. You can make it yourself by mixing one part peat and one part perlite. Sprinkle the seed on soil surface and cover that with a thin layer of growing medium that barely covers the seeds.
Thoroughly moisten the soil using sprayer and cover the pot with plastic wrap. Keep the soil moist until seeds germinate, which will take around 15 to 30 days.
After the seeds germinate, uncover the plastic and transplant them to bigger pots when necessary.
Growing Dragon Fruit from Cuttings
To learn how to propagate dragon fruit from cuttings, read this.
For growing dragonfruit, well draining soil that is sandy is better. A mixture of sand in garden soil would be appropriate. It is forgiving to poor soil.
Since the dragon fruit is a cactus, water it moderately with care like you do with other succulents. Water only when soil dries out completely.
Fertilize dragon fruit with balanced fertilizer every month when the plant is active in its growing season. Stop fertilizing in winter if growing in colder climate. Application of aged manure or compost can also be done time to time.
Dragon Fruit Pollination
Many dragon fruit varieties are self pollinating but there are some that requires cross pollination. If your dragon fruit is unable to do self pollination, you’ll need to grow two or more dragon fruit plants closely for cross pollination. As dragon fruit flowers are nocturnal, its pollination depends on moths and bats. For assurance, you can also do self pollination at night.
Harvest dragon fruit when its skin color changes from bright green to red or pink. Its fruit is oval to ovate in shape and 10 to 15 cm long and forms 30 to 50 days after flowering.
Pericarp of dragon fruit is rough and scaly and is usually pink in color. However, there are also red, or yellow dragon fruits depending on the variety. The flesh is located in the interior is white and contains black seeds.
Pests and Diseases
There are particularly no pests that nag the plant but fungal diseases and root and fruit rot is possible, if plant is overwatered or exposed to too much rain.