Dragon fruit is a climbing cactus that produces exotic looking fruit. It has bright pink, yellow or orange skin with white or magenta flesh that have lots of edible seeds. It have spiky soft scale that resemble the skin of a dragon.
Dragon fruit is also known as pitaya or pitahaya. It is sometimes called the queen of the night, night blooming cereus, strawberry pear and moonflower. The bloom is stunning, large and fragrant and only open one time at night ready for pollination. It is high in fiber, no cholesterol, low calorie and rich in vitamin C and essential minerals to help enhance your overall health. It is considered a superfood and is also available commercially in powder form.
Here we explore on how to grow and care for a dragon fruit. Dragon fruit is eaten fresh slightly chilled with texture like kiwi and has mild sweet taste. It has high water content which you will find it refreshing like watermelon. It also wonderful for other culinary uses. It is great to slice it and add it into your salad, makes smoothies, flavor an ice cream or dessert, tossed it into a fresh fruit salad or flavor drinks and cocktails.
What Are the Different Varieties of Dragon Fruit?
- Hylocereus Megalanthus ( pitaya amarilla) – have yellow skin with white flesh and sweeter than the other variety.
- Hylocereus Undatus ( pitaya blanca) – have red or pink skin with white flesh and mild in taste.
- Hylocereus Costarincensis (pitaya roja) -have red or magenta skin, red/magenta flesh and slightly sweet.
How To Grow and Care for a Dragon fruit
Propagating by Stem Cuttings
I prefer growing dragon fruit from cuttings of the stem because it will flower faster than from seeds. Just cut about 8 – 15 inches of the stem from a dragonfruit plant and have it dry for a couple of days. When the bruise from cutting is already close, it is ready for planting. You can either plant them in a garden pot or in the ground. Choose a place where there is enough sunlight.
Propagating by Seeds
Propagating by seeds will be a slower method of growing. Just scoop out or remove the seeds using spoon from the flesh of a dragonfruit. Place it in a paper towel and put it in a garden pots or soil bed. Use potting soil for faster germination. Mist the soil and put it on a sunny place. Continue misting the soil until a new sprouts comes out. Thinning the seedlings is recommended allowing better growth and transplant them in new pots.
Dragon fruit is fairly easy to grow wether on the ground or pot. Preferred soil ph is between 7-9. Choose a well draining sandy and loamy soil. Since it a member of the cactus family, it does not require a lot of water. Water only when the top soil is drying out. Dragonfruit cannot tolerate cold temperature. It is a tropical and subtropical plant and it thrive on a sunny warm weather. It requires 6-8 hours of full sun a day.
Once the dragonfruit plant is ready for planting, prepare a sturdy post or have it grow on a fence or trellis because it is a climbing vine. Add some organic fertilizer and prune some side shooting to focus more on the energy to growing long stems. Once reach the desired height, cut the tip of the stem for growing more stems ready for making a canopy. In about 8 months upto 1.5 year (for stem cuttings), it will begin to bloom. If you start from seeds it may take upto 2 – 3 years to begin fruiting, still worth the wait.
How to Care for a Dragon Fruit
Dragonfruit is fairly easy to care. As long there is enough sunlight and well draining soil, you are good to go. Make sure you have a sturdy supports for the vine. Add organic fertilizers to help grow a healthy plant and prune regularly from dying and unhealthy stems. This is also to ensure to not overcrowding the branches for better air circulation and prevent diseases.
How to Pollinate Dragonfruit
Dragon fruit only blooms one time at night so it relies on nocturnal moths and bats to pollinate. For indoor growing, you can hand pollinate it by gathering the pollens and brush them into the flower stigma. You can use a swab or a brush to hand pollinate. Some dragon fruit are self pollinating.
How Do You Know When Dragon Fruit is Ready To Pick?
Dragonfruit bear fruits multiple times in a year from summer to fall. Dragon fruit is ready to be harvested when the skin change color from green to bright pink or red. Twist the dragonfruit gently or you can use a garden scissor to carefully snip off on the base of the fruit. Dragonfruit can last several weeks on the refrigerator.
I hope you find this post helpful on how to grow and care for a dragon fruit.
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