How to Grow Dragon Fruit? Dragon fruit is an amazing cactus that produces strange-looking fruit that looks like a mythical dragon egg. Remove the beautiful pinkish red skin to reveal white or pink meat studded with small black seeds. The flavour is difficult to describe, with some describing it as a pleasant blend of mild kiwi fruit, watermelon, strawberry, and pear flavours. Others describe it as very slightly sweet or savoury. Confused? Growing circumstances and fruit ripeness can affect taste, but it’s visually appealing and rich with minerals, such as Vitamin C, so you can’t go wrong.
If the fruit isn’t enough to tempt you, don’t forget about the blooms. Their magnificent huge flowers, which are easily more than 20cm wide, arrive in July. They are yellowy green on the outside and open to a fragrant white, lily-like bloom on the inside. Flowers bloom in the evening and last only one night. It’s the ideal excuse to throw a cocktail party in the evening and enjoy their blooms!
What Is Dragon Fruit?
The dragon fruit plant is a big climbing cactus with tall, thick, succulent-like branches with bright red or yellow fruit. The fruit of a dragon fruit plant (also known as dragon fruit, pitahaya, pitaya, strawberry pear, or cactus fruit) is dense, juicy, and sweet, making it ideal for eating raw, slicing up for salads, or blending for smoothies or ice cream.
As if that weren’t enough, dragon fruit bushes produce some of the world’s largest blooms, known as “night-blooming cereus,” which bloom as stunning white flowers for one night only and fill the air with a distinct tropical aroma.
3 Types of Dragon Fruit
Home gardeners can cultivate three types of dragon fruit:
- Hylocereus undatus: This is the most popular dragon fruit kind, having red or pink skin and white meat.
- Hylocereus megalanthus: The skin of this dragon fruit is yellow, and the meat is white.
- Hylocereus costaricensis: The skin of this dragon fruit is red, while the flesh is crimson or purple.
Best Climate for Growing Dragon Fruit
Even though dragon fruit is a member of the cactus family, it is not like the cacti you see in the desert—in fact, dragon fruit is a subtropical cactus native to Central and South America, which means it thrives in moderate, humid climates. To grow dragon fruit successfully, keep the plant in temperatures between 32 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which is limited to USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. (parts of southern California and Florida).
If your climate is too cold or too hot for dragon fruit, you can grow a dragon fruit plant indoors in a pot.
How to Grow Dragon Fruit From Seed?
1. Prepare the soil bed
Dragon fruit requires full sun, so plant it in a sunny spot in your garden or on a sunny windowsill that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. Choose potting soil that is well-draining and rich with organic matter (dragon fruits are susceptible to “wet feet,” or chronically moist roots). Don’t use cactus soil—dragon fruits, as tropical plants, require more water than other cacti and require soil that retains moisture slightly better.
2. Prepare the seeds to Grow Dragon Fruit
Scoop out the black seeds from a ripe dragon fruit. Wash the seeds and lay them out on a moist paper towel for at least twelve hours to remove the fruit flesh and pulp.
3. Plant the seeds
Cover the soil surface with a thin layer of soil after scattering the dragon fruit seeds. It’s fine if it only just covers the seeds; they don’t need to be planted deeply.
4. Water to Grow Dragon Fruit
Water or mist the soil bed on a regular basis to keep it evenly moist. If your soil is prone to drying out, wrap it in plastic wrap to keep moisture in until the seeds germinate.
5. Thin and transplant
Thin your dragon fruit seedlings as they grow to allow room for each new plant. Plant them in larger pots if you’re growing them inside. For optimal health, a mature dragon fruit will require at least a twenty-gallon pot (at least twenty inches wide).
Your dragon fruit plant will require a support system once it reaches twelve inches in height—after all, dragon fruits are climbing cacti. Set up a trellis or a wood stake to allow your plant to grow.
How to Plant Dragon Fruit From Cuttings?
1. Prepare the soil bed
To avoid “wet feet,” dragon fruit requires full sun—select a sunny spot in your yard or a sunny windowsill that receives at least six hours of sunlight every day—as well as sufficient drainage.
2. Trim a cutting from a mature plant
Cut a twelve-inch branch from an established dragon fruit plant with garden shears. Take care not to take too much of the plant—too aggressively chopping it back could limit its growth.
3. Cut up the cutting to Grow Dragon Fruit
Divide the dragon fruit into three to five pieces. Each of these components can be used to start a new dragon fruit plant. Keep track of which direction is “up” for each cutting—you’ll need to plant them upright in order for them to grow properly. Brush some fungicide onto each cutting to help prevent disease, but this isn’t required.
4. Cure the cuttings
Allow the cuttings to heal around the edges by storing them in a warm, dry place. They’re ready when the tips of the cuttings turn white, which can take anywhere from two days to a week.
5. Plant the cuttings
Plant each cutting by pressing the earth around it and placing the base an inch or two beneath the soil to keep it secure and erect. The Plant the cutting in the same direction as the original branch—the end closest to the base of the original dragon fruit plant should be planted in the soil, and the end closest to the tip of the original branch should be sticking out of the soil surface.
Water or spray the soil bed on a regular basis to maintain it equally moist. In three to four weeks, you should notice new growth and a developing root system.
If you’re growing your cuttings indoors, transplant them to larger pots or a garden bed with a suitable climate as they grow.
Your dragon fruit plant will require a support system after it reaches twelve inches in height—after all, dragon fruits are climbing cactus. Set up a trellis or a wood support to allow your plant to grow.
How to Care for a Dragon Fruit Plant?
Dragon fruit require moist soil to simulate its subtropical home, so keep the soil evenly moist and don’t let it entirely dry up. Simultaneously, avoid overwatering, which can cause the soil to become damp and soggy—dragon fruit plants dislike “wet feet.”
A dragon fruit plant, as a climbing cactus, requires some kind of support to grow. It grows well under a trellis, beside a fence, or with a wood stake or climbing pole.
Pruning back any dead, dying, diseased, or overcrowded branches will keep your plant disease-free and growing properly on its support system.
Fertilize your dragon fruit plant once a month during the growing season to provide it with the nutrients it requires.
To produce fruit, dragon fruit plants rely on nighttime pollinators such as moths and bats. If you’re growing it as an indoor house plant, you’ll need to hand-pollinate it when it blooms: swirl a clean cotton swab or paintbrush in the middle of the flower to collect pollen, then brush the pollen onto the flower’s stigma, a tall branching section in the centre of the flower. Certain dragon fruit kinds are self-pollinating, while others require cross-pollination from another plant—check to determine what variety you have and if you need more than one plant to yield fruit.
6. Keep at temperature
Because dragon fruit plants are not hardy in cold or hot weather, maintain your plant between 32 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit—around 70 degrees is ideal. If your neighbourhood is hot in the summer but chilly in the winter, bring your plant inside when the temperature cools to keep it warm.
How to Harvest Dragon Fruit?
Harvesting your dragon fruit tree is simple after it has begun to bear fruit. Look for brightly coloured fruits with withered “wings” (the skin flaps on the outside of the fruit). Gently twist the fruit—if it’s ripe, it will readily release from the stem. Waiting for the fruit to fall from the stem on its own will result in overripeness. Unpeeled dragon fruit can be stored on the counter for several days or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Also Read: How to Grow Papaya from Seeds?