How to Grow Dragon Fruit

How to Grow Dragon Fruit (Pitaya Plant)

Dragon fruits are also known as strawberry pears. Dragon fruit plant is a climbing plant that requires support to grow properly. The fruits are commonly known for their fire-like appearance. The outer skin of the fruit might look intimidating. However, they won’t stab you as they are very soft. The taste of dragon fruit is like that of a kiwi, although it is a bit crunchy. The plant has one of the largest flowers, as they can grow up to 25 cm in diameter, and 30 cm long.

Dragon Fruit Growth Requirements

1. Soil

Although dragon fruit can grow in any type of well-draining soil, it does well in slightly acidic soil. The plants don’t require a lot of nutrients as they are light feeders.

2. Planting

You can grow plants from seeds or cuttings. Growing them from seeds will take too long before they bear their first fruits. That might go up to two years. It’s not that it’s challenging to grow them from seeds; they just take longer to develop.

3. Growing the Fruits from Seeds

Divide the fruit into two halves using a knife. Scoop the seeds from the pulp. Wash them to remove the pulp. Place the seed on a slightly moist paper towel, put them in a safe place and leave them to stay overnight. Still, you can buy fully prepared seeds from online stores.

  • Add potting mix on a pot.
  • Sprinkle the seed on the soil and cover them.
  • Add water on the pot. Keep the soil moist until your seeds germinate. This might take up to 30 days.

4. Growing from Cuttings

  • Cut a stem from an already established plant. The cutting should be 14-38 cm long. For best results, cut it at an angle.
  • Get a suitable container. It should be at least 24 inches deep.
  • Add soil to the container and water it.
  • Dig a 2-4 inches deep hole in the soil. Place the cutting on the hole and add the soil to make it firm around the stem.

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With cuttings, the plants grow much faster. When using cuttings, don’t plant fresh ones. Let them dry in an area with shade. Fresh cuts may get an infection when planted as their wounds have not yet healed. The cuttings will start developing roots within a month after planting.

You can also buy seedlings and transplant them

5. Where to Grow the Plants

Dragon fruits can grow either outdoors or indoors. They can be planted on the ground or in containers. If you grow them in a container, it should be big enough and have a central pole which will act as support for the plant. The container or planting pot should also have drainage holes to release excess water. If you grow the plants outdoors, let them be exposed partly to the sun. The plant can tolerate a bit of frost, but not too much of it. The leaves of the plant should be exposed to the sun for best results.

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6. Fertilizer

Add fertilizer to the plant every two months. A lot of it will kill the plants. Don’t add fertilizer during winter, as the plant is not actively growing. For good results, use a fertilizer with low nitrogen levels.

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7. Watering the Plant

Since it is a cactus, only water the plant when the surface feels dry. Overwatering will kill the plant.

8. Plant Support

Erecting a pole for support helps the dragon fruit reach its full potential. It also prevents it from breaking.

9. Pruning the Plant

Dragon fruit plants can grow very large. When this happens, cut off some of its branches.  Disinfect the pruning tool before you start cutting off your plant. Pruning has so many advantages such as

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10. Flowering and Pollination

One unique thing about the dragon fruit is that its flowers open for only one night throughout their lifetime. When the flowers open, they produce a sweet fragrance. Some varieties are self-pollinating. If you go for a type that does not self-pollinate, you have to do the pollination.

11. Harvesting the Plant

If your plant is receiving adequate warmth and water, it will produce ripe fruits at any time of the year. Some varieties turn red when ripe. Others turn yellow. The more the fruit stays on the plant, the sweeter it gets.

Pests and Diseases

Dragon fruit plants are not affected too much by pests. However, birds and bats may feed on the fruits when they grow. You can cover the plants with bird nets to keep them safe.

Your plants might develop a bacterial infection. The infection causes spots on the stems and leaves of the plant, which may result in rotting. Do not worry about this; the plant knows how to deal with this.

Some other pests that may attack your plants include:

1. Caterpillars

These are not as dangerous. Remove them using your hands as soon as you notice them

2. Snails and Slugs

these affect small plants that have not established fully. They may chew the plants. With large, fully established plants, snails and slugs don’t have adverse effects.

Growing Dragon Fruit Indoors

Even though it is a desert plant, the dragon fruit plant does not require too much light to grow, compared to other desert plants. When growing them indoors, plant them in pots and place them near a south-facing window, where they will receive 6-8 hours of sunlight.

Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

  • The fruit has so many benefits to the skin due to the presence of antioxidants, and vitamin reduces wrinkles, acne dry skin and age spots.
  • The anti-inflammatory properties of the plant help in reducing body pain, especially when you frequently experience chronic pain from diseases such as arthritis.
  • The fiber in the fruits promotes smooth digestion.
  • The fruit contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will my dragon fruit plant live?

Since it is a perennial, the plant has a long life span. The plant can produce fruits for up to 30 years.

How tall can my dragon fruit plant get?

The plant can grow up to 6 feet high. The stems can get up to 6 meters.

How are dragons fruits harvested?

Use a pruning knife to harvest the fruit to prevent it from getting damaged.

When is the best season to plant dragon fruit?

The best season to grow your plants in summer, as its growth halts in other seasons.

How long do dragon fruit seeds take to germinate?

The seeds might take up to 4 weeks to germinate.

How do I store dragon fruits after harvesting?

Under normal conditions, the fruits will stay for 2-3 days without going bad. After that, store them in a refrigerator. When frozen, the fruits can live up to 6 months.

Wrapping Up

Dragon fruits are sweet. More importantly, they have several health benefits. They are worth growing In your garden as they do not demand a lot of your attention. Also, the bright colors of the fruits add ornamental beauty to your space, whether outdoor or indoor. Just provide the plant with the right growing conditions and they will reward you with sweet, unique fruits.

Dragon Fruit Farming, Cultivation And Harvesting