The dragon fruit’s original name is Pitaya, which is not that common in the Western world. It is a plant that is extremely popular in Asia, but it’s starting to catch on more and more in the West as well. For this reason, today we will show you the ultimate guide on how to grow dragon fruit on your own. We will look at important information about how to grow dragon fruit and, in the end, we will see why should you start doing it.
Where, When and How to Grow Dragon Fruit
Where to Grow It
The dragon fruit can be cultivated almost anywhere. However, if you live in a cold climate, you may need to offer it some extra protection. The best area for him would be a warm climate and mild winters. The best part is that it can resist to drought and under extremely dry conditions. Paradoxically, it does need to be watered regularly, which helps for having better fruit.
When to Grow It
Planting – It doesn’t matter what time of the year you choose to plant the dragon fruit since it is a long-lived plant. Remember that it’s a cactus, which makes it adaptable to planting at any moment.
Flowering and fruiting – The main flowering takes place in summer. With this plant, fruiting can happen sporadically all throughout the year. The fruits usually develop well into the autumn and winter. The beauty of this plant is truly exquisite, having a petal span that reaches more than 8 inches across. If you want to admire the flowers in full bloom, you should wake up early since they close by mid-morning.
How to Grow Dragon Fruit
1. Choose How You Want to Plant It
There are two options from where to choose here: either plant from dragon fruit seeds or from cuttings taken from a plant that is already developing. The main difference between the two is the fact that growing a plant from organic seeds can take more time for it to bear any fruit (even up to two years!). Meanwhile, if you use cuttings from a stem, it can take less. There is also the option of buying plants and transplanting them later to your garden.
2. Choose Where to Plant It
Yes, as we said, the dragon fruit grows anywhere. But before planting, you should decide where you want it to grow. It’s important to think whether you want to plant it indoors or outdoors, for example. The plant can grow perfectly well in containers too.
If you decide to use a container, choose the right type. It has to have a diameter of 15” to 24” and a depth of minimum 10”. Make sure it is fitted with a climbing pole. When it grows, the dragon fruit will still need a bigger container. If you choose to plant it outdoors, remember to place it in a sunny spot.
3. Put the Soil in Place
Whether you plant it outdoors or not, you must make sure the soil is the right one. Before planting, it would be useful to use a soil tester. The best type when thinking how to grow dragon fruit is a sandy one. After all, the dragon fruit is a cactus. Avoid a wet, mucky soil at all costs. An important thing to keep in mind is to plant in where water doesn’t pool. For a container option, choose one that has drainage holes at the bottom. Place the soil 7 cm away from the brim of the container.
4. Dry the Cuttings
If you manage to get a fresh cutting, put it in a shady and cool place for a week and let it dry. The wound will thus heal. Once you plant it, you will also prevent any infection.
5. Plant in the Sun
Once again, the leaves of the dragon fruit should be in full sun. As it grows, make sure that it still gets enough sunlight. This will help you obtain the best results in your garden.
6. Plant Flush with the Soil Line
The cuttings or the plant you ordered from a farm need to be taken out of the container and replanted. When doing this, plant it flush with the new soil line. In the case of seeds, you just need to sprinkle a couple in the container and then cover them with a thin layer of soil. Tip: if you use a little bit of slow-time fertilizer in the lower level of soil, your plant may grow faster.
7. Fertilize Occasionally
Remember that even if you plant from a cutting, you still need around 4 months for strong roots to form. Be careful with the fertilizers! If you use too much, this might kill the plant. Ideally, fertilize every two months and use a slow-time release, low-nitrogen fertilizer for cacti. More fertilizer is not going to help the plant at all.
8. Watering the Plant
The watering process is the same as with a tropical cactus. When it’s dry, you just need to give it a little water. If the plant is already large, make sure its climbing pole is moist. In this case, a dripper can be quite useful. Don’t overwater it, since this will kill the plant.
The following clip illustrates how to grow dragon fruit easily:
How to Harvest Dragon Fruit
1. Let the Plant Grow
Remember that it might still take a couple of years for the plant to fully bloom. Even so, in a week you may notice some giant spurts. When the plant starts growing, use a climbing pole for it to have a structure. The flower only blooms for one night, so you might even miss the grand moment.
2. Pruning the Plant
These plants can get very large in time, with some varieties reaching 20 feet in height (6.1 m). If you feel that it’s getting too large, prune it. Cutting off some of the branches will help the dragon fruit concentrate its nutrients and flower. You can use the branches for repotting and growing other plants.
3. Picking the Fruit
The dragon fruit is usually ripe towards the end of summer or beginning of fall. However, it can fruit anytime during the year if it has the proper temperature and water conditions. A dragon fruit is ripe when it has a red or yellow soft skin.
4. Eating the Fruit
This is your glory moment. After all this work, now you have the chance to finally savor your fruit. Cut it into quarters and get the rind off. Alternatively, you can just dig into it with the help of a spoon. The taste is rather sweet, while the texture is like that of a kiwi fruit. After the flower starts to fully bloom, it has 4-6 fruit cycles each year. Eventually, they will produce more and more, but you have to be a little patient when it comes to it.
Why Should You Want to Know How to Plant Dragon Fruit?
Now that you learned how to grow dragon fruit, it’s time to have a look at the reasons why you should start doing it.
1. It’s Healthy
Some say that dragon fruit has a bland taste. Regardless of that, it has an important nutritional value we shouldn’t overlook. It offers plenty of fibers, minerals, vitamin C, as well as some antioxidants.
2. It’s Beautiful
Dragon fruit belongs to the cactus family. Most likely you already have or know somebody who has a cactus in their home. They are beautiful and when they bloom, it’s a spectacular view.
3. It’s a Point of Attraction
It can make a nice contrast with the rest of your garden. Its fleshy stems are colorful and thus create a perfect balance with a green background. You can also use it at a dinner party on the table and everybody will talk about it.
4. It’s Easy to Plant
Compared to other types of plants, the dragon fruit is quite easy to grow. It doesn’t need lots of water and the care requirements are minimum. When learning how to grow dragon fruit, the biggest impediments usually relate to landscaping, as the technical part is quite easy.
5. It’s Tasty
Here it can be rather problematic. Some people claim that it has a bland taste, while others love its flavor. Either way, it is a great idea for a cocktail, for example. Moreover, you can make a nice arrangement out of it for any glass.
6. For Selling
The red dragon fruit, for example, is sold for $5 in supermarkets. It can even reach higher prices, depending on the area you live in. For this reason, it can be a good idea to learn how to grow dragon fruit in your own garden.
Now you could say you are an expert in how to grow a dragon fruit. However, the process is less complicated than with other plants. What’s more, the results can be quite satisfying, even though you need to be patient with them. The best part is that dragon fruit doesn’t need lots of care. It’s important to pay attention to the water and fertilizer quantity since these can kill your plant if used in excess. There are lots of recipes that make use of the dragon fruit, from puddings to pancakes, parfaits or salsa, so make sure you take full advantage of your fruits.
Image source: 1