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Friday, 29 June 2012

This article was updated on 24th Apr 2014 Dragon fruit or called by its proper name Pitaya is one of the lessor known fruiting plants in the Western world (perhaps the whole world).

The name “dragon fruit” has its origins in Asia and probably was formed as a way to describe the bright coloured fruit with a chunky scaled skin resembling large...Well, dragon scales, I guess. Whilst this plant is pretty well known in Asia and grown extensively throughout the region, dragon fruit actually originated from Mexico and South America.

Dragon fruit flowers at sunrise

Dragon fruit flowers at sunrise (above image)

This medium to large climbing plant is part of the cactus family and like so many other cactus varieties the dragon fruit is an extremely interesting visual spectacle and when grown in the backyard or in a pot on a balcony the plant is always a lure for questions.

Red fleshed dragon fruit

The plant grows like a climbing vine but instead of tendrils it shoots from the tip and grows another segment ranging from 1-3 feet long and about 4 inches wide.

In Asia, the fruit is popular and pitaya farms are not an unusual sight. The dragon fruit is growing in popularity throughout the Western world with commercial farms starting to appear among the more traditional fruit crops but generally the fruit isn't well known, yet. I do see the rare case of dragon fruit in my local supermarket and it's promoted as a real exotic treat (with a price tag to match).

Personally, I prefer to grow my own at home.

Varieties of dragon fruit

The most common varieties of this spectacular fruiting cactus are the red and yellow fruiting ones. The reRed and yellow dragon fruitd fruiting variety can be split into two main plants distinguished by the flesh colour (edible part) of the fruit – a white flesh, and the other a dark red flesh with the white fleshed red dragon fruit the most common.

The yellow skinned (with a white flesh) dragon fruit are not as commonly grown as the red variety mainly because of its nasty thorny protection, which needs to be removed before handling (more about that later). Also, the yellow variety is significantly smaller than the red in size. However, out of the two colours the yellow has a better taste (sweeter) than the red variety but that's my personal opinion.

What does the fruit taste like?

With such a glamorous exterior, you would expect the dragon fruit to deliver more than it does – taste wise. Having said that, one shouldn’t try and compare this fruit to other tropical stand-outs just because of how vibrant it looks. The main point is the fruit does not taste bad it just isn't a taste bud celebration with every mouthful, but it does taste good.

Dragon fruit pulp close up

Dragon fruit pulp close-up (image above)

Some would say the fruit tastes a little bland but I think the same about some varieties of watermelon and that doesn't stop me from eating them. The taste of the dragon fruit is like a melon with the texture and tiny seeds similar to a kiwi fruit. And just like a kiwi fruit, you hardly notice the seeds when eating the dragon fruit pulp. In fact, crunching a few seeds in a bite releases a slight tang (or acidity) which is quite pleasant.

dragon fruit flesh scooped out

The fruit is best eaten a little chilled (whole in the fridge), then cut in half and the pulp scooped out with a spoon. Eaten this way, I find the fruit quite refreshing and very enjoyable – I could eat lots of them. Alternatively, dragon fruit are good mashed in cocktails or cut into chunks and added to fruit salads, which by doing so can only enhance the overall fruit salad taste and definitely will not detract from it.

Out of the common red and yellow varieties of dragon fruit, the sweetest tasting is the yellow. However, the drawback for growing the yellow variety (unlike the red) is the fact that the fruit develops spines (thorns) up to and over a centimetre long, which need to be carefully removed before handling (read more about removing the spikes in harvesting below).

Why grow dragon fruit?

I say, “why not” grow dragon fruit? Here are some reasons why more people should grow this weird looking fruit producing cactus:

  • Healthy – Despite some thinking the fruit tastes bland, it is actually very good for us to eat nutritionally. Dragon fruits contain good levels of fibre, minerals, vitamins (vitamin C), and cancer fighting antioxidants.

  • Ornamental value – Many people collect cactus just for fun and for looking at because they are a spectacular plant genus visually. The flower this plant produces is incredible!

  • Different – In contrast to the rest of the garden the dragon fruit plant can be made into a great feature with its eye-catching fleshy stems. On the table, or at a dinner party the fruit do look fabulous and are a real talking point with guests.

  • Easy – The plant itself is very easy to grow and requires little care or water.

  • Retail - The large red dragon fruit sell for a ridiculous $5 a pop in the supermarket (in Australia) – enough said...

How to grow dragon fruit?

The massive flower bud from the dragon fruit

The massive flower bud of the dragon fruit (image above)

Where

Dragon fruit can be grown almost anywhere in the world. In very cold climates it needs to be protected or it may struggle as it grows best in a warm climate with mild winters.

When (planting, fruiting, harvest)

Planting - Time of year for planting isn't really a consideration. The plant is long lived and being a cactus has natural reserves to make it pretty easy as a self-establisher for getting through planting at any time.

Fruiting and flowering – Fruiting can be sporadic throughout the year with the main flowering in summer and then fruit developing into autumn and winter. A dragon fruit plant in flower is an amazing site to behold with petal span often over 8 inches across! Firstly, the shear size of the flower makes it stand out from 50 yards away and the crisp white outer petals with the rich yellow stamens are beautiful. For the best chance to see these flowers in full glory a dawn rising is required as by mid-morning the flowers are usually closed. The flowers are mostly nocturnal (opening at night only) to be pollinated by the creatures of darkness (moths and bats). Nevertheless, I have seen the flowers open through the day and visited by other insects especially ants.

Dragon fruit flower close up

The dragon fruit flower in all its glory (image above)

Plant maturity inducing flowering seems to work off growth rather then age of the plant. I have found that the dragon fruit plant starts to flower and produce fruit best after it has reached a high-point in growth on whatever structure it is climbing. That is, the single stem reaches up and loops down under its own weight triggering small fractures in the stem wall, which in turn stimulates branching.

I have since learnt decapitation once the vine has grown to an acceptable height is another way to stimulate extra branches and fruit development.

Therefore, growing the plant on posts no higher than 2 metres will not only make harvesting easier but it will produce fruit faster also because it won't need to climb as high before toppling over and spreading.

The other extreme, where the plant is left unchecked to grow up a tall structure or even a tree trunk, is worse because the dragon fruit will just keep climbing up and up making fruit harvesting difficult.

It is on the new branches sprawling over the top of the support structure where most of the new flowers are produced, although, flowers can pop-up anywhere on the plant.

Of course, after the flowers come the fruit and it can be tricky to guess exactly how long the fruit will take to reach maturity because it depends mainly on the size. Some fruit keep growing and get very large (bigger than a man’s fist) and others stop growing and start ripening early. So, from flowering to ripe fruit can take from 6 weeks to several months.

Pollination - You can get self-fertile plants and other plants which require cross pollination from other dragon fruit flowers. Unless you are an enthusiast, try to ensure the dragon fruit plant you buy is self-fertile! However, if you are not sure whether your plant is self-fertile or not you can test it when your first flower comes along by hand pollinating; likewise, if your plants are having trouble setting fruit hand pollination will have to be done. Watch the video below by Project Pitaya on how to hand pollinate dragon fruit flowers if you want to know more.

Green dragon fruit on stemHarvesting – Pitaya (dragon fruit) do not ripen off the plant after harvest. Therefore, before picking the fruit ensure it is fully ripe by visually checking the colour has completely changed from green to red or yellow. Also, the skin should be slightly soft (like a silicon filled ball) when lightly squeezed or poked.

To remove the fruit simply rotate it with a light pull and it should come away rather easily – if it doesn't come off easily it probably isn't fully ripe.

Before picking the yellow fruit, its thorns need to be removed and this can be done by using any implement; for example, a pliers, brush, glove. If the fruit is ripe, the thorns should already be showing signs of shedding anyway and hopefully they will easily rub off without too much problem but care still needs to be taken naturally as the thorns are needle sharp. See my video on how to remove thorns from yellow dragon fruit.

After harvest preservation isn't too bad; however, they are best eaten within a few days.

How to best grow dragon fruit - Because dragon fruit are a climbing plant they are best grown on a structure. Most people grow the plants on a post and secure the stem to the post as it grows with twine or some sort of material.

Dragon fruit farm

A dragon fruit farm (image above)

I have seen images of dragon fruit plants on posts no higher than a standard fence (about 1.5m and that might be ok if you plan to have several plants; however, if just one or two plants are required then I'd go a little higher so there is more space for hanging growth (thus more fruit).

Plants can be started readily from seed but most people purchase a potted plant which are usually a foot or two high. Cuttings are also a very successful way to propagate dragon fruit and it's quite common tPotted dragon fruit from cuttingo find a segment broken from the plant. More often then not, the segment will grow into a new plant if potted up or even re-planted in the soil as is. If you know someone with dragon fruit plants then getting some freebies should be easy enough.

Soil – One thing that will kill a cactus is over watering or wet feet so ensure the soil is free draining. I live in a sub-tropical climate and because of the high rainfall (and my clay soil) I have ensured my plants are growing on a mound or large pot with the bottom cut out. Being a cactus, it can survive some neglect from lack of water and even nutrients but the plant will quickly rot in heavy soil.

Fertiliser – I feed my dragon fruit plants a mix of chicken and quail manure once or twice a year with an occasional dress of compost and a good mulching (keep the much away from the trunk/stem). A complete commercial fertiliser purchased from a garden centre will do also.

Honestly, this plant will grow well under horrid conditions and neglect but for the best fruit possible some care will help.

Here is another dragon fruit growing tip in our Tips Section!

Pests

Nothing much attacks this plant or the fruit except for when the fruit ripens and then animals or birds may have a go at it buFungal damage on dragon fruit stemt this personally hasn't happened to me. I wouldn't imagine climbing or sitting on a cactus to be an easy or pleasant thing for an animal to do, and I'd like to see my pesky possums try to eat a prickly yellow dragon fruit.

Fungal problems can sometimes arise through summer when the humidity is high with rust spots appearing and then opening up to rot; however, the plants seem to get over it without any intervention. If the plant looks like it is in big trouble from a fungal attack then sparingly using a fungicide (as directed) should solve the issue. Nevertheless, the dragon fruit plant heals itself well after attacks from fungus or injury through wind etc.

Having said that, recently (Feb 2014) I have had my first serious fungal attack on a dragon fruit vine (red variety) which caused severe dieback. The rust spots started random on certain limbs and then rapidly spread. For now, the treatment I've used is a fungal spray and removal of affected branches - hopefully, this will be good enough! This has only happend on the one plant and it happens to be dual planted with a yellow variety which is NOT affected (strange). I've started a thread about this on our fourm SSC here so I can collect more information about the problem and detail progress in solvign or preventing it. 

Also, I have read a dose of Epsom salts (as directed on packet manuf instructions) watered into the base of the plant may help it recover from sunburn.

Handy links

You can buy dragon fruit plants online plus many other dragon fruit products to try before you grow on Amazon (USA) or eBay (USA)

In Australia, there are plenty of cuttings and seed etc to buy stright from eBay (Australia).

Conclusion

If you are already a fan of cactus plants then getting a pitaya/dragon fruit plant is an easy decision; even just for the ornamental value.

If you're interested in food gardening then this easy to care for Mexican born, Asian raised, rebel of aHolding yellow dragon fruit plant will be the heavy metal rocker in your quaint garden especially at flowering time. You need to get a dragon fruit plant just so you can get up at dawn, take a picture of these massive flowers, and brag to your friends.

And, if you're not really a cactus fan nor an avid food gardener then why not start your new passion with an exotic like the pitaya aka dragon fruit – this plant will not fail you.

Feel free to use the comment section below and have your say (no email is required) but what would really be even better is if you visited our dragon fruit thread on our forum simply join up (free) and chat with us.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes

Mark Valencia – Editor SSM

 

Posted by: Mark Valencia AT 10:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  92 Comments  |  Email
Comments:
why does my plant flower easily but doesn't yield any fruit? It has flowered a total of four times each time yielding about 4 or 5 flowers but all dropping off even though I do hand pollination
Posted by lk tan on 08/15/2012 - 04:13 AM
Hi, the Dragon fruit plant flowering but not forming fruit is not uncommon. Not all of my flowers on pitayas end up developing fruit either. If your hand pollination is working but the fruit is still not forming due to another reason then it may be because the plant is still too young or not strong enough so it naturally prevents the fruit development. Or, possibly the plant needs more nutrition so try giving it a feed of a complete fertiliser with trace elements and see if that helps. Also, make sure the soil is very well draining (almost dryish) as dragon fruit hate moist or wet feet. I don't know how old or what climate your plant is but give it some time and it might come good. Good luck!
Posted by Mark on 08/15/2012 - 05:13 AM
Thank you. Very informative article.... I'll be starting my dragon fruit farm very soon, though in small area only.
Posted by Emily Japitana on 09/14/2012 - 03:53 AM
Hi Emily, thanks for the feedback and I hope your dragon fruit plants do well.
Posted by Mark on 09/14/2012 - 04:34 AM
Hi! I just came across a Dragon Fruit plant today at Home Depot so I am very new to them. They seem to be a great plant to try - something a little unusual. That said - I'm going to try growing this in a pot on our back patio area near the pool. We live in zone 9b so I think the climate is perfect. The plant I got is prob 1-2 ft big. It has a few rooted shoots too. I want to repot it but how big of a pot should I go up to? How substantial of a trellis will I need to get me to summer next year? I only have a Y shaped wooden one. Can it be in full sun? When will it start to bloom? Does it have to be a certain size first? Is it very sensitive to cold? Thank you so much for the information!!!
Posted by Erika on 10/14/2012 - 09:09 PM
Hi Erika, thanks for your comment, I'll do my best to answer your questions: how big of a pot should I go up to? I recommend a pot at least 40cm wide (so fairly large). How substantial of a trellis will I need to get me to summer next year? They grow well on a strong post and can become very heavy so a strong trellis is required a Y shaped wooden one probably won't do permantly. Can it be in full sun? Full sun is perfect. When will it start to bloom? When it reaches trellis height and drapes over (about 18 months)Does it have to be a certain size first? Normally, about 6 foot high. Is it very sensitive to cold? Tolorates cool to mild winters but won't to well in extreme cold. Forum for more questions www.selfsufficientculture.com
Posted by Mark on 10/15/2012 - 01:13 AM
Thanks for the info. My young dragon fruit plants are constantly being eaten by tree lizards. Do you know of any way to stop them?
Posted by Laurie on 11/20/2012 - 10:43 PM
Hi Laurie, tree lizards! I've never come across such creatures they sound awful :) I don't see anything eating my dragon fruit plants due to the spikes I guess, but if you have lizards which eat yours and thorns aren't a deterrent then I'm at a loss on how to protect the plants apart from exclusion like a dome net etc until the plants are big enough - see our netting article (crop protection). Good luck mate.
Posted by Mark on 11/21/2012 - 04:29 AM
I love these fruits as do our children. They are great eaten frozen too. They're kind of like a sweetish seedy ice cream. Originally from Sydney, now living the UK, we miss tropical delights such as these. Can you tell me please, how far south do these plants grow, flourish & fruit successfully? Would it be warm enough in the top of the Hunter Valley on the coast. Somewhere like Bulledelah, Taree or Port Macquarie? Or would it need to be north of Coffs Harbour perhaps? Thanks for a great article too... :)
Posted by David T on 12/13/2012 - 07:14 AM
Hi David, thanks for commenting on the article. I haven't tried DF frozen but it sounds great and I'm going to give it a go. Obviously, they are a warm region plant but I do know of people growing them in pots in areas which snow through winter! I would say with a little care, and micro-climate consideration (like a sunny wall)you should have no problem growing them in any of those locations you mentioned - even Sydney itself. Definitely try it!
Posted by Mark on 12/13/2012 - 05:09 PM
Dear Mark What a great informative article. I live in Cairns North Queensland and I have a red dragon fruit which has probably only given me 3 fruits over the past years. It was meant to grow up my palm tree (which had been cut to about 5 foot or so) however had gone sideways. The other dragon fruit totally ran up a huge palm tree. It has never flowered or fruited. I am now going to take some cuttings of the runaway one. Tks Di
Posted by Diana Lennon on 12/14/2012 - 03:15 PM
Hello Di, thanks for your kind words. Yes, Dragon Fruit will continue to climb and "get away" if we don't control them! Try keeping the stand/support or post no more than 6 feet high with some mesh or circular ring at the top so once the plant reaches the top it then topples over triggering branching. Hopefully, you should get more flowering and thus more fruit also with this method. I love Cairns BTW - did quite a bit of work up there in the mid-90's.
Posted by Mark on 12/14/2012 - 09:24 PM
Hi Mark, I am considering getting a Red Dragon Fruit Plant. My heat Zone is 7 and Cold zone is 10 (we do get frosts in winter & can go to the minus's some mornings) What would be the best option for me and do you need to get more than 1 plant for pollination or do they self pollinate?
Posted by Trish on 12/17/2012 - 04:17 AM
Hi Trish, the odd drop below zero shouldn't hurt the Dragon fruit plant too much as long as it isn't prolonged. Self-pollination is a good question and I don't know a lot about it to be honest, but I believe you can get both self-pollinating varieties and ones that need another to cross pollinate. I would ensure the plant you get is self-pollinating. My DF flowers usually all set fruit and I suspect are pollinated through visiting moths, bats. I have noticed ants like the flowers too not sure if they help pollinate though. If pollination becomes a problem then hand pollination may be the way to go. Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 12/17/2012 - 07:01 AM
Hi Thank you very much for posting a very interesting and useful information. I am going to plant some dragon fruit in my backyard very soon. I will contact you whenever I need good advice and help. Thanks Again Shantha
Posted by Shantha Samarasinghe on 12/19/2012 - 05:58 AM
Hi Shantha, thanks for the feedback and feel free to email me anytime or post a question in our forum about growing dragon fruit. Hope it goes well! Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 12/19/2012 - 06:12 AM
We have dragon fruit that have given only 3fruit about 3years ago. We have hand pollinated every way you can think of but still no luck, we live in Cardwell QLD.They are mature plants growing over posts , done everything we can think of please help.
Posted by Pattie on 01/13/2013 - 10:49 PM
I am growing dragon fruit for a class project and this really helped!
Posted by Hannah on 01/14/2013 - 01:27 PM
I'm really glad this article has helped your project Hannah. Cheers, Mark
Posted by Mark on 01/14/2013 - 02:33 PM
Hi Pattie, that's a difficult question to answer because dragon fruit not setting can be due to many reasons. Firstly, are you sure you have a self-polinating variety? If you do have the self-pollinating plant then do you have lots of wild life around and insects because dragon fruit flowers are typically pollinated by bats and moths at night and a good environment of animals helps. Post in our forum www.selfsufficientculture.com and we'll talk more about it!
Posted by Mark on 01/14/2013 - 03:07 PM
Thanks so much for your article, my dragon fruit just had its first flowering after I've waited for maybe 8 years. It was so beautiful and yes, I did put a picture of it on face book as it was so amazing. I'm glad I know now about how to grow them and let them hang back down, mine is on an archway, probable why it took so long to flower. Fertiliser hey, good idea Warm Regards Melina
Posted by Melina on 02/23/2013 - 10:41 PM
Thank you Melina! Dragon fruit vine on an archway now that's a great idea - it would look fabulous no doubt. Glad to hear it's flowering for you. Cheers, Mark
Posted by Mark on 02/24/2013 - 02:08 AM
Hey there! Great article! I just ate my first dragon fruit and guess what? I want a plant! I have just collected a few seeds, and I placed them in a pot, with a moist paper towel underneath and on top of them. Hope they will germinate :D Thanks Mark for all the infos. I would love to have one fruit grown by my own hand one day. I'll keep you posted with the outcomes! PS. Greetings from Germany ;) Here the fruit costs 3.99 EURO, today I got one in a sale action for 1.99 Euro ;)
Posted by Eliza on 03/04/2013 - 02:09 PM
Hi Eliza, great to hear from you all the way from wonderful Germany! Yes, dragon fruit are expensive to buy that's for sure. Good luck with growing yours - it's a magic plant. Mine are starting to flower at the moment (coming into autumn here in Oz) I'm expecting a good crop this year. Thanks for your feedback and please do keep me posted on your progress - perhaps even join our forum?
Posted by Mark on 03/04/2013 - 05:08 PM
Hi thanks for your article on DF, last year i had 30 DF from my 4 vines all hand pollinated, but this year i had about 50 flowers but most turned yellow and fell off, what would you recommend, Kind Regards Geoff
Posted by geoff on 03/23/2013 - 07:35 AM
Hi Geoff, thanks for your question. Firstly 30 DF last season is great going - well done! Did you do the same this year and hand pollinate? The reason I ask is because it sounds like the flowers weren't fertilised and if you didn't hand pollinate this time then that's an easy fix by hand pollinating next season. However, if you did hand pollinate the same way but got poor results then it might be several other reasons like: just a bad year or rest year for the plant, poor climatic conditions at fruit set - too dry or too wet, or not enough energy for fruit development. Try giving the plants a good feed of a balanced fertiliser and some well rotted manure and see how they go next season.
Posted by Mark on 03/24/2013 - 12:05 AM
Hi Geoff, I live in the Sunshine State in Queensland Australia and just found out about Dragon Fruit. I was given some cuttings which prompted me to research the fruit. I had to wait a couple of weeks to taste some and loved it. I have three large cuttings and one is taking off so I am going to plant it in the garden. As I have clay soil I will plant it in a mound in packaged balanced soil mix with some chicken manure thrown in. I will connect them to the irrigation system I have in the orchard so hopefully they will grow and produce lovely fruit. What a wonderful hobby for anyone! Thanks for the article very informative.
Posted by Graham on 04/23/2013 - 12:52 AM
Thanks Graham! DF grow well on a mound and I too have clay soil so keeping the plants out of the bog is a must but easier to do than other plants because the DF plant can withstand dry spells extremely well and mounded soil can dry out fast but that's no problem for a cactus :) Hope your cuttings strike well!
Posted by Mark on 04/23/2013 - 01:36 AM
I bought a couple of cuttings about around november of last year and they have rooted and even set off one side shoot each (but i was told to clip those off until the main stalk is as big as i want it) anyway, they are still the same size as they were when i got them- 6 inches so my question is this: How can i get the main stalk to grow taller and strong? I would like it to be much taller before having loads of extra arms everywhere lol thanks in advance!
Posted by Ashley on 04/25/2013 - 09:48 PM
Hi Ashley, that's a good question and here's my observations: firstly, DF vines/plants usually do bud from the tips of the main steam and grow up but it's not always the case. Sometimes, a strong growing off-shoot turns into a main runner instead and vigorously grows and climbs up. I personally would leave them grow willy-nilly for 12 months then choose and train the best stem to about 6 feet whilst removing any shoots which are too low. Happy to discuss this more in depth on our forum http://www.selfsufficientculture.com/showthread.php?20-Dragon-fruit-(pitaya)
Posted by Mark on 04/25/2013 - 11:08 PM
I have 2 dragon fruit plants, one is the dark red fleshed and the other is the white fleshed. I went out this morning and found what looks like the beginnings of flowering on my white fleshed plant but I have only had these plants for a couple years. I live in Hawaii, the island of Maui, on the very dry side of the island. Will I have to self pollinate these flowers? I am not sure what kind of birds that fly@night except the sea birds as well as other night creatures we have. I got these pants because I love the fruit, they are $15 plus @the store here.
Posted by Cindy Romero on 05/04/2013 - 02:37 PM
Hi, I like to try growing this fruit but have a question can you grow Dragon fruit in S.W. Qld ?
Posted by Allan Wines on 05/04/2013 - 08:03 PM
Hi Cindy, I've been to Hawaii for a holiday you're so lucky you live there what a great place! Hand pollination is an interesting question - personally, I never hand pollinate and our plants flowers tend to develop into fruit most of the time (80%). The flowers are likely to be pollinated by small bats and night insects like moths (I'm sure you'd have them on your island). However, I've seen the flowers still open at dawn many times getting visited by bees and ants etc. I'm not an expert on pollination by hand but if you are worried then go ahead and hand pollinate - there are some good examples on YouTube search for " Hand pollinating Dragon Fruit". Thanks for commenting!
Posted by Mark on 05/04/2013 - 08:25 PM
Hi Allan, yes you can grow dragon fruit in SE QLD this is where I live! In fact, dragon fruit grow really well here. Go get some plants and never look back :) If you'd like more info join our forum "Self Sufficient Culture" and we can talk more and post some images etc - DF is an easy plant to grow.
Posted by Mark on 05/04/2013 - 08:31 PM
I live in Canada. We have brutal winters(anywhere from 0 degrees celsius to -35 degrees celsius) and fairly warm summers(anywhere from +5 degrees celsius in spring to high 20-35 degrees celsius... sometimes higher but not often) but Im wondering could I grow this plant in a green house or in my house in a pot? Can i plant the fruit sold from the grocery store or do i have to try and find the plant?(no luck so far)
Posted by Caylene on 05/11/2013 - 02:11 AM
Hi Caylene, I believe it is possible to grow DF by seed but I haven't tried it as it grows so easily from cuttings. Leave the fruit mature fully and then spread the seed pulp on some kitchen paper to dry. Then start it like you would any other seedling - let us know how you go please! In regards to pot growing I've found DF grow exceptionally well in pots (they almost prefer it) because the plant likes to dry out occasionally and pots by nature are usually quick to dry out and free draining. I would say YES in a heated greenhouse with a fair amount of sunlight your DF should grow well - no problem. Cheers, Mark
Posted by Mark on 05/11/2013 - 04:35 AM
Hi mate, really well written, clear and conscice, thanks heaps budy!
Posted by Zach on 06/01/2013 - 08:09 PM
Hi Zach, your comment means a lot mate. Thanks you very much! Cheers, Mark
Posted by Mark on 06/01/2013 - 10:20 PM
Great article. I bought a cutting a couple years ago, stuck it in the ground, and had a few fruits the first year! That's really all I did---no fertilizer, no water, no time spent babying it. It grows on a chain link fence quite nicely, and is thriving, despite my neglect, in South Florida.
Posted by Jason on 06/02/2013 - 07:01 PM
Hi Jason, I've been to Florida (great place) similar climate to Brisbane also. Yes, I agree with your "neglect theory" because I see the results from DF plants I pay little attention to and the ones I give too much love (extra fertiliser etc) the plants left to fend for themselves tend to grow a little slower but fruit well and the plants given more "love" tend to grow faster but fruit less. I'd say it's a cactus trait - they kind of like the harsh environment and thrive on rough treatment. Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 06/02/2013 - 08:48 PM
I planted my dragon fruit a couple of years ago and had two fruit so far, deep red, and delicious. None lately though so may just be an off year. You are right, they are so easy to grow and need no attention. Am also training my over an arch. I bought a second plan today at the nursery and still deciding where in the garden to put this one. Was thinking of training it along the pool fence, or maybe in a pot. Thanks for this site as I learned quite a few things that should help. Cheers, Don (also in SE Qld).
Posted by Don on 06/28/2013 - 09:54 AM
Hi Don, great to hear from you mate. I only have one dragon fruit which has the red flesh (all the rest of mine are white). The taste is terrific and that's a little odd because many report the red flesh as slightly bland; interestingly, I purchased some red fleshed DF a few months back from the supermarket and found they tasted bland indeed? Makes me wonder why commercially grown DF don't taste as good... Yes pots are good and so are fences for supporting DF! Cheers, Mark
Posted by Mark on 06/29/2013 - 12:50 AM
I live in the Philippines, and although there are DF farms here, I've only tried the fruit recently. It's a great treat for a warm day. I tried placing 6 seeds on some moist cotton and all of them germinated in less than a week. Right now they each have two tiny leaves. I'm just wondering when is they best time to transfer them to soil?
Posted by Karri on 07/01/2013 - 12:21 PM
Hi Karri, and thanks for your comment :) About your DF germination success well done! I would say to move your DF seedlings from the cotton wool starter medium to small pots of good potting mix as soon as possible and nurse them until about 25-30 cm high and with good root development. Be careful not to over fertilise. Then plant out into it's final spot. If you like we can talk about this more on our forum (just follow the frog links).
Posted by Mark on 07/01/2013 - 09:30 PM
I live in Belize, Central America. My pitahaya goes in the ground today. Thank you for this great information!
Posted by Cathie on 08/18/2013 - 08:59 AM
Hi Cathie, so fantastic to here you have read our article on Dragon Fruit all the way over in Belize! Good luck with growing it and thanks for commenting to let us know. Cheers, Mark :)
Posted by Mark Valencia on 08/18/2013 - 06:08 PM
What are the common problems of growing dragon fruit?
Posted by krisselle on 08/19/2013 - 11:56 PM
Hi Krisselle, dragon fruit is a pretty resilient plant (being a cactus) and it doesn't suffer from many problems as long as it is grown in a pretty warm climate or sheltered if it isn't. It can get some rust spots which can grow larger and eat away/rot parts of the plant but this is not usually a problem the plant can't overcome on its own. To talk about DF more join our forum (link top of page).
Posted by Mark Valencia on 08/20/2013 - 01:30 AM
hi , can you explain to me the life span of the plant ? how many years the plant can live
Posted by gelwa on 08/20/2013 - 03:02 PM
Hi Gelwa, the dragon fruit (Pitaya) is a long lived cactus but I can't say exactly although I assume many years... Some of mine are at least 8 and going strong. The great thing about the plant is how easy it is to propagate from cuttings! It also grows fast and you can expect fruit within two years. Hope that helps, Mark
Posted by Mark Valencia on 08/20/2013 - 06:29 PM
Gelwa and Mark, I heard dragons can live up to 20+ years. I don't have a dragon plant but I want to grow a couple. Mark, your information you provided get me a better understanding on growing them. One question, how to protect them if they are planted in a cooler zone, like zone 6?
Posted by Richard on 09/07/2013 - 01:01 AM
Hi Richard, thanks for the advice on how long a dragon fruit can live for! Growing dragon fruit in a cool zone would probably be best if the position is considered carefully; for instance, on a trellis against a brick wall which gets the hot afternoon sun. Some people grow them in large pots and move them under cover through winter and I guess you could grow them in a green house in a colder climate. DF can grow into a large plant and needs to grow up a structure of some sort like a post or trellis so this needs to be considered.
Posted by Mark on 09/08/2013 - 06:39 AM
sir i am a dragon fruit cultivator from india .my problem with the plants are it looks yellow.please provide me with the best solution
Posted by sharban islam on 09/19/2013 - 08:23 AM
Hi Sharban, it's difficult to guess why your plants are going yellow without a photo or a little more info but my "hunch" would be that they either may lack nutrients or be in soil with poor drainage. Ensure the soil is very well draining even dry between watering and give the plants a little fertiliser (a generic brand would do) then see how they go after a few weeks. We can also talk more or upload a photo on our forum www.selfsufficientculture.com go to the dragon fruit thread. Nice hearing from India!
Posted by Mark Valencia on 09/19/2013 - 08:49 AM
How much time/days need to grow-up a dragon seed to dragon fruit?
Posted by S. M. Jahirul Islam Farthad on 10/06/2013 - 12:46 AM
Jahirul, it takes about 1-4 weeks for the seed to germinate and several months before the small plant can be planted.
Posted by Mark on 10/07/2013 - 02:19 AM
I have found less water equals more flavour!! compost and some white shade cloth can be helpful though :)
Posted by Mel on 10/12/2013 - 03:49 PM
Thanks Mel, I guess the less water may concentrate the flavour in the fruit? Sounds good to me :) Cheers
Posted by Mark Valencia on 10/13/2013 - 04:50 AM
A friend who lives on the wet tropical coast would like to know what type of wood to use to grow pitaya on eg hardwood posts???o or ?..
Posted by Ruth L on 10/19/2013 - 03:52 PM
Hi Ruth, I use hardwood because the plant (vine) actually attaches itself to the post with small root like tendrils (still needs to be tied and trained) and treated pine may possibly leach chemicals into the plant (I have no proof of this notion I must say). However, I've seen DF growing up all sorts of structures including chainlink fencing and trellis materials. But post for post - I would now use at least 100x100 mil hardwood fence posts dug in so they are no more than 6 feet high and train the plant up the post to the top by tying it with a wide type material which wont cut into the vine.
Posted by Mark Valencia on 10/19/2013 - 07:58 PM
I have planted a rooted cutting of a red dragon fruit. Seems to be growing very quickly. BUT, I have just noticed a small hole appearing on the centre stem rib section...sort of looks like I have drilled it, and I see another starting on the stem. Rainy season here in Brisbane Australia.
Posted by Geoff on 11/18/2013 - 08:02 AM
Hi Geoff, yeah it could be a type of fungi or I call it "rust spots" which develop and create holes in the stem flesh. The good news is I have never seen it get so bad that it kills the plant if anything the vine may look a little unsightly but it should recover and continue to grow without a problem (especially after the rainy season). If it got worse and you were really concerned you could try a fungicide (one specifically for food plants) but I just leave mine and they seem to grow on fine.
Posted by Mark Valencia on 11/18/2013 - 08:19 AM
I have a dragon fruit cactus. Will over watering it turn it yellow? I live in southern California.
Posted by Rufus Medrano on 01/11/2014 - 10:06 PM
Hi Rufus, over watering is not necessarily a cause of the dragon fruit vine turning yellow. It is normal for the plant to yellow sometimes and then they often green up again - this can happen in low water conditions as well as high rainfall. Applying a small amount of fertiliser should help the plant slowly green up again if you are worried about it.
Posted by Mark on 01/12/2014 - 02:43 AM
May i know which fertilizer i should use regularly? Pls reply to me.
Posted by nayyanlwin on 01/15/2014 - 05:18 PM
Hi Nayyanlwin, I use blood & bone fertiliser or sometimes Dynamic lifter (chicken manure pettlets).
Posted by Mark on 03/26/2014 - 05:39 AM
I decided I wanted my own plant so I took some of the seeds from the fruit and planted, they have grew really well, I have close to 40. Most of them are 2-3 inches in height with 2 small leafs at the base if the plant. They have grew really well indoors so far. I hope to get a heated greenhouse for them as this is Ireland and the warmest country lol. How many years do you think it will be before I can hope to have my own fruit. I am really surprised how easy they were to grow and the speed of growth has been quite surprising. As a member of the cactus family I was worried that they were going to be very slow growers. That's for the article I learnt a lot :)
Posted by Martin McDonnell on 05/18/2014 - 05:09 PM
Hi Martin, and thanks for sharing your experience with growing DF from seed! I have always grown them from cuttings so I can't really give you a true indication of how long your seedlings will take to grow into producing plants. However, I do know even the smallest cuttings grow really fast and most of mine have gone from cutting to producing in under 2 years! I would expect your seedlings to take a little longer but as you have found yourself they are fast growers for cactus plants. Best of luck and well done on getting so many seeds to sprout. Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 05/18/2014 - 06:31 PM
Hi Mark, you mentioned decapitation of the plant to promote flowering and etc. I wanted to know where to cut it off, at the narrowest point or any place? How far after it hangs down from the support structure should I cut or just cut before it hangs over? Also, should I let the branches at the top of the plant grow? I have been cutting off the branches at the bottom since I was advised that the plant will not grow taller if it is constantly branching out. That advice worked for me. But now there are branches on the top. But I'm thinking that the branches on top will more like bare flowers. Any advice on this? Thank you for sharing. -Nikki
Posted by nikki on 08/12/2014 - 08:19 PM
Hi Nikki, I wouldn't decapitate the plant if you are growing it up and over a standard size structure, especially, if you can see it is already starting to branch on the top. In my experience, the plant will naturally branch out and start flowering once the vine reaches the top of the structure and flops over. I would only use the decapitation option (through one of the joins if possible) if the plant was either growing up a very tall structure and you wanted to keep it lower or if it stubbornly won't branch out. My guess is your plant is perfectly on track and I would leave it for now. Hope this helps :)
Posted by Mark Valencia on 08/13/2014 - 03:41 AM
Hi, I have dragon fruit plants my problem is since it started to bear fruit ants seem to infest them. I'm here in the La Union Philippines. Please help me on how to get rid of those ants...they are eating the fruits ):
Posted by Lori on 08/24/2014 - 02:37 AM
Hi Lori, I've had ants help fertilise the flowers but never eating the fruit however it's possible especially if you say so! An easy fix would be to break the cycle of the ants going up the stem and getting to the fruits by using sticky fly paper wrapped around the base of the plant or some organic ant rid tree paint painted around the stem base (even some honey mixed with pyrethrum might work ok). This should stop them in their tracks! Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 08/24/2014 - 05:23 AM
My dragon fruit got badley frosted. It is very soft and the runners are filled with fluid, do I cut it all off and let it start growing again?
Posted by Sue Sparrow on 09/03/2014 - 11:41 PM
Yes Sue, it would be best to cut it back because the soft growth will die off anyway. Thanks for asking :)
Posted by Mark Valencia on 09/04/2014 - 03:44 AM
Hi where can I get some dragon fruit seeds or cuttings I would like to try growing some plants for my garden
Posted by greg on 09/11/2014 - 10:20 PM
Hi Greg, assuming you are in Australia there are several retailers that sell Dragon Fruit like http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H1.Xdragon+fruit&_nkw=dragon+fruit&_sacat=0 and gardening centres such as Bunnings or other nursery's.
Posted by Mark on 09/12/2014 - 03:25 AM
Hi I live in san diego and am quite confused with all the info available on how to grow dragon fruit in a pot. This is the only way i am able to grow since i live in a condo. What i have come up with is 15Gallon pot Cactus soil or soil that is low nitrogen and high phosphorus Rocks or stirofoam peanuts (Kind used for shipping) for bottom of pot Fertilizer - not sure what to get Stakes and ties I really like this fruit and am excited to grow plant from cuttings given to me. The flesh is magenta What about pollenating? Is the one i have self pollenating or will i need to pollenste myself if nature doesn't. If so how do i do that Any info you can provide is much appreciated. Looking forward to your reply! Thank you
Posted by Sheri on 09/13/2014 - 01:08 PM
Hi Sheri, thanks for your question and yes dragon fruit plants grow particularly well in pots and although they are hardy will benefit from some fertiliser occasionally. I can't tell you if your variety is self-pollinating but I have amended the article to show how you can! Please go to the "Pollination" section under "When - Planting Fruiting Harvest" and see the amended extra info and video I have included - this should help.
Posted by Mark on 09/13/2014 - 08:14 PM
Hi Mark thank you for the info. Will check out the pollination video. Planted DF over weekend! Excited to see how it does. Tried to respond yesterday but had problems with image verify. Would not except code as seen.
Posted by Sheri on 09/16/2014 - 03:45 PM
Thanks Sheri, hopefully the image verify was just a glitch... good luck with your DF!
Posted by Mark on 09/16/2014 - 10:14 PM
Hello. I've been trying to grow a dragon fruit plant for almost half a year now, and I was wondering how long it takes for it to grow bigger. I am raising it from a cutting, and it's barely grown more than half an inch in the entire time.
Posted by Floweramon on 09/20/2014 - 11:51 AM
Hello Floweramon, your DF cutting should be growing a little faster than that but it might be taking a while to establish a root system. At least it is still living. I would give it some regular fertiliser and some time and once it starts growing with good roots it should grow at least a metre per year or faster!
Posted by Mark on 09/20/2014 - 07:35 PM
Hi, my work has just got into growing dragon fruit. Our main concern is trying to figure out if it they will be red or white. is there a way of knowing before the fruits develop? Cheers
Posted by Chris on 10/02/2014 - 04:26 AM
Hi Chris, that's a really good question and I don't have the answer but I do know the only way to tell if a variety is self-fertile or not is by waiting for it to flower. The best way to start propagating dragon fruit IMO is taking cuttings from producing plants and then you know for sure what type it is and the colour of the fruit. If you have several plants already but don't know the variety to state the obvious it might unfortunately be a waiting game. I have a red fleshed and a white fleshed variety yellow skins and red skins and all the plants look similar to me however I'm not a botanist. Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 10/02/2014 - 09:17 PM
Hi, Just recieved some red dragon seeds. Correct me if I am wrong please. For the soil I was going to mix potting soil with some sand to get a desert tpye feel. Will this work or what would you suggest?
Posted by joe on 10/09/2014 - 05:40 AM
Hi Joe, mixing some sand with your potting soil sounds like a good idea and don't think it can harm anything (only benefit). Having said that, I've noticed the nurseries I've visited grow dragon fruit in standard potting soil no different to other fruit trees. For raising seedlings and germinating from seed a good seed raising mix is usually pretty fine anyway but adding a little washed sand should be ok I reckon. If you like, join our forum at www.selfsufficientculture.com post a thread about your progress in our vegetable and fruit section!Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 10/09/2014 - 08:41 PM
Hi Mark I love dragon fruit My pop who lives in Currumbin Valley would always save them for me for when I would visit :)I'm In the South Burnett Region My pop packed me up with a couple of rooted cutting off his gorgeous plant But the first frost they went to jelly :( lol. I noticed a while ago that some one a few blocks away has a dragon fruit I am not aware if it has fruited or what type but it is huge growing way up in a tree My longing for dragon fruit took over and I took a cutting(it was hanging over the fence) This was probably 2 months ago It now has a little shoot off it I hope that is a good sign? :) I will most likely have to cover it in a blanket when winter comes around again. It got to like minus 7 here last winter lol
Posted by Jessica Anderson on 10/13/2014 - 01:55 AM
Hi Jessica and thanks for sharing your story about your Pop growing Dragon Fruit! My Grandfather influenced my love of food growing immensely so I can relate to you. You could try growing your DF up a strong post or trellis and build an open frame on top so in winter cover the top with shade cloth and in summer remove it? If it is shooting you have a DF plant so congrats! Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 10/13/2014 - 06:45 AM
Hi there. I have a dozen or so dragon fruit seedlings that I started in February (early autumn). They have been slow over winter but now that it's spring and much warmer they have taken off. They are only an inch tall but their potting mix would have run out of fertilizer. What growing media do you reccomend I pot my babies into?
Posted by Nara on 10/13/2014 - 07:09 AM
Hi Nara, congrats on your dragon fruit seedlings! As far as a potting mix medium goes for the next stage of growth I would invest in some premium potting mix, which has the added fertilizer and water saving attributes. This should kick the seedlings along nicely and take the guess work out of making your own mix. I know it seems like an expensive option but a good premium potting mix saves time/effort and does give me consistent results for those rare and valuable plants. Once the plants are a foot high and strong than mix your own to pot up or plant them where they are to grow. Specific cactus mediums aren't necessary IMHO. Good luck and cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 10/13/2014 - 06:52 PM
hello!i live in California and i want to know if its ok to us coffee grinds as a fertilizer. Also recently my red dragon fruit cutting broke in half a bit/not severed off completely. do you know if it will die or regenerate? what can i do to save it? it hasn't been showing signs of dying off and its been like that for about 2 weeks. Additionally, if a cutting has roots and is about 3 ft tall how long will it take for it to start producing fruit? Thank you!
Posted by dian on 10/29/2014 - 07:42 PM
Hi Dian, coffee grinds are excellent in the garden! Yes, your dragon fruit will recover but if the break is too big it might be best to prune it completely off and make two plants - just pot the top half up in some good potting mix and it should grow in no time. Pitaya (DF) fruiting can be a little difficult to predict mine tend to start fruiting in about 2 years, however, I have had cuttings in pots fruit within 12 months! It just depends on the plant variety, growing conditions, etc. Cheers :)
Posted by Mark on 10/30/2014 - 12:51 AM

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