Learn all about How to Grow Dragon Fruit in pots and enjoy a fresh harvest of this exotic fruit right in your home for the entire family!
If you love tasty and unique fruits, our guide on How to Grow Dragon Fruit will help you cultivate it easily in a small space!
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.
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Dragon Fruit Information
Dragon fruit plant, also famous as pitahaya or pitaya, belongs to the cactus family. It’s a climbing cactus and needs support for growing. The flowers are unique and one of the largest in the world. The blooms only open for one night and exude an inviting fruity fragrance.
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Is Dragon Fruit a Cactus?
The dragon fruit is a vine-y cactus belonging to the climbing cacti family of cactaceae and is known for its bright pink pitaya and sweet taste.
Where Does Dragon Fruit Come From?
If you are wondering Where Does Dragon Fruit Come From, the answer to that question is—Dragon fruit is native to Central America and grown throughout Southeast Asia and the subtropical and tropical parts of China, Israel, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Nicaragua.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
With an edible central fleshy under the relatively thin skin, the flesh of the Dragon Fruit is slightly granular with many black seeds. In texture, it is a cross between watermelon and kiwifruit. With a floral fragrance, the flavor is mildly sweet.
Dragon fruit also offers several health benefits with its antioxidant and vitamin C content. It is a perfect snack for every day as it is low in calories.
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Dragon Fruit Propagation
How long does dragon fruit take to grow from seed? Here are the steps to grow dragon fruit from seeds:
Growing Dragon Fruit from Seeds
- Cut open the fruit 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 a small pot with well-draining soil. You can make it yourself by mixing one part peat and one part perlite.
- Sprinkle the seed on the soil surface and cover that with a thin layer of growing medium.
- Thoroughly moisten the soil using a sprayer and cover the pot with plastic wrap. Keep the soil moist until seeds germinate, which will take around 15 to 30 days. Ensure it gets plenty of bright and indirect light.
Growing Dragon Fruit in Pots
Growing dragon fruit in the container is fairly easy. This way, you can move the plant and overwinter it to save it from frost. Start the dragon fruit tree in a 10-12 inches deep container and keep repotting yearly or when the plant seems root-bound.
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Types of Dragon Fruit Cactus
Dragon fruit has over ten species, each producing shells, and fruits in color and taste. Also, there are several hybrid types, including ‘Tricia’ (Hylocereus ocamponis and Hylocereus undatus), ‘Edgar’s Baby’ (Hylocereus stenopterus and Hylocereus guatemalensis)
- Hylocereus megalanthus: This dragon fruit is rare to see and grows white, sweet fruit flesh inside a thorny, yellow shell.
- Hylocereus guatemalensis: The dragon fruit shell is pink with greenish fins, and the flesh is bright purple in shade.
- Hylocereus costaricensis: The fruit shell and flesh can look deep pink, blood red, or deep red.
- Hylocereus polyrhizus: This variety produces fruits with a thorny green shell and deep red flesh.
- Hylocereus stenopterus: This variety can produce orange, red, or yellow-colored fruits.
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Requirements for Growing Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is a cactus, which means it loves heat and sun. For best growth, pick a spot that gets at least 5-6 hours of bright and direct sunlight every day. Do remember that it will only flower and fruit abundantly if it gets sunlight for the most part of the day.
For growing dragon fruit, opt for well-draining soil to ensure it never suffers from the problem of root rot. If you want the best fruits, use four parts of garden soil, two parts of coarse sand, and one part perlite.
Avoid adding too much sand, as it will make the growing medium dry out too quickly. The fruit grows best in neutral soil, with a pH of 6 to 7.
Since the dragon fruit is a cactus, water it moderately as you do with other succulents. Water only when the topsoil dries out. When you see it getting full of fruits, make sure the growing medium never dries out completely.
The dragon fruit plant is a climbing cactus and needs support when it becomes mature. It forms aerial roots from the branches and climbs through any nearby structure.
While growing dragonfruit, find something to support your plant. Attach a sturdy trellis or make an arbor to ensure it doesn’t droop, especially when it gets laden with fruits.
Dragon fruit can’t live in cool temperatures. Exposure to a temperature below 32 F (0 C) is fatal. Similarly, a temperature above 100 F (38 C) causes difficulty. Keep the plant above 50 F (10 C) in a cool climate.
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Dragon Fruit Care
Fertilize dragon fruit with a balanced liquid fertilizer every month when the plant is active in its growing season. Stop fertilizing in winter. Side-dressing the plant with aged manure or compost can also be done occasionally.
Pruning is required to train this plant on the trellis, improve air circulation, prevent fungal infection, and maintain height.
Prune it annually by removing all the overgrowing, decaying, overcrowding, and dead stems saving only the healthier and more productive ones. Check out this pruning guide to learn more!
Pests and Diseases
There are particularly no pests that nag the plant seriously. However, you must keep an eye on aphids; they feed on young shoots and flower buds.
Fungal diseases and root or fruit rot are possible if the plant is overwatered or exposed to too much rain.
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Dragon Fruit Pollination
Many dragon fruit varieties are self-pollinating, but some require cross-pollination. If your dragon fruit cannot self-pollinate, you’ll need to grow two or more dragon fruit plants for cross-pollinating.
As dragon fruit flowers are nocturnal, their pollination depends on moths and bats. For assurance, you can also do this manually at night using a brush.
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Harvesting Dragon Fruit
- In usual climates, dragon fruit bears fruit multiple times from summer to late fall and probably winter. It depends on the climate.
- If you’re growing it in a temperate region, it’ll fruit between summer to early and mid-fall.
- Your dragon fruit tree will start to produce flowers and fruits once established. This will happen in the second or third year after planting.
- Harvest dragon fruit when its skin color changes from bright green to red or pink. Its fruit is oval,10 to 15 cm long, and forms 30 to 50 days after flowering.
- The 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 white and contains black seeds.