Dragon fruit cactus is a beautiful and stunning other world fruit to grow.
Sometimes referred to as Pitahaha, dragon fruit is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Moreover, it is one of the several different fruits you can get from cacti.
Popular for its bright pink, leathery skin, dragon fruit is sweet on the inside, featuring white flesh and tiny black seeds.
Not only you can harvest this unusual, highly nutritious, and showy fruit outdoor, but also indoor.
However, these fast-growing perennial cacti also have ornamental value in your landscape.
The planting season of this cactus is spring, and it can grow up to 20 feet tall and produce aerial roots that allow them to cling to the surfaces.
Tus, creating their creeping, claiming habit.
Dragon fruit can take up to seven years to produce fruits from the seeds, however, when you plant a cutting, you can harvest them within 1 to 3 years.
Keep on reading to learn more about them in detail.
They also produce edible fruits that are beautiful, delicious, and colorful.
Let’s go through a piece of quick information about dragon fruit.
|Botanical Name||Hylocereus undatus|
|Common Name||Dragon fruit, pitahaya, strawberry pear, Honolulu queen, moonlight cactus|
|Mature Size||10–20 ft. tall, 5–10 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil Type||Sandy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Neutral to acidic|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer, fall, winter|
|Hardiness Zones||10–12 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Mexico, Central America, South America|
Dragon Fruit Cactus Care
In order to successfully grow dragon fruit outdoor, you will need to have a warm and sunny place, as well as ample space in your garden.
Why? Because dragon fruit is a heavy cactus, with a spreading habit and long stems.
Moreover, make sure that you plant it far away from your home, electrical lines, and any other hazardous objects as it can interact with them.
It will also need support from a strong trellis.
Now, let’s discuss different factors you need to consider for the growth of dragon fruit.
Light and Soil Requirments
Though dragon fruit enjoys warm weather and you often plant them in full sunlight, too much intense sun in dry or hotter regions can cause sun damage.
If the temperature in your area is frequently near 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then it is best to plant them in a spot that boasts partial shade.
In the same way, it is important to be aware that too much shade can also result in less abundant fruit production and the quality of your harvest may not be as impressive.
The key to growing this plant is to make sure that the soil is moist, rich in organic matter, and ell-draining.
Cacti experts also recommend mulching around the base of your plant, especially in the drier regions, to help the soil retain its moisture.
Water, Temperature and Other Factors
Let’s discuss water, temperature, and other factors that affect the growth of dragon fruit as follows:
If you think that your plant is a cactus, then you can cut back on watering it.
While dragon fruit is a cactus, it does have some drought resistance, in order to produce a good fruit crop.
Therefore, it is best to water them consistently from when they start producing their flowers until you harvest them.
Moreover, during winter, and into early spring, make sure to give your plant a necessary dry spell to induce specific flowering.
Temperature and Humidity
Dragon fruit plants are not suitable for every garden.
This is because they are native to tropical regions that will not do well in areas where there is freezing weather.
Especially in the regions where the freeze is for long periods of time.
Moreover, temperature ranging from 65 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is an optimal growing condition for dragon fruit cacti.
Dragon fruit is rather a hungry plant and you need to feed them every couple of months, especially during their first year.
You can use a balanced fertilizer, 20-20-20.
Once your dragon fruit plant is well established, they often do find with just a few applications of fertilizer annually.
Make sure to plan to amend the soil with compost or organic matter, a couple of times a year, as well.
You can also use Al Ardh Alkhadra soil Conditioner for your dragon fruit. It is 100% organic.
Learn more about our products here.
Pruning a Dragon Fruit Cactus
In case you avoid pruning your dragon fruit cactus, chances are that there can be fungal disease and insect infestation which will likely increase.
Moreover, it can also result in poor light penetration for the tangled center stems, which can also affect the production of fruit.
With the help of regular pruning, you can encourage prolific flowering and it also helps to prevent your plant from becoming too heavy for the trellis it is growing on.
Make sure to plan periodically cut back any overly long, damaged, tangled, or dead stems as 2 or 3times a year.
If you are lucky or have a younger plant, you may be able to get away with a single annual pruning session.
This can be done after you harvest the fruit.
Propagating a Dragon Fruit
In some cases, dragon fruit cultivators are self-incompatible, meaning that you may need a few different types to make sure a better chances of fruit production through cross-pollination.
This is because most cultivators have a nocturnal flowering habit, and you may need to hand-pollinate.
As there may not be any bees or other pollinators around to do it for you.
Even with this method, it can take at least 6 to 7 years before dragon fruit cacti begin to bear fruit.
Luckily, it is easy to propagate new plants from stem cuttings.
In order to do so, start by taking a decent-sized cutting up to 10 inches in length from a heavy stem.
Treat the cut end with a fungicide, then plant it cut-side down in a pot that you will fill with a combination of potting soil and a bit of sand.
Then water the cutting slightly, however, do not soal the plant.
Set the pot in a shady location to cure for a week at least. You can expect the cutting to grow quickly and may find that it begins being fruit in under a year.
Harvesting your Plant
One of the important things to note is that you will know when your dragon fruit is ready to harvest.
It is when the flaps on the pink outer skin begin to develop a withered appearance.
If it is ripe, you should be able to easily twist it from the stem.
However, any fruit that falls off from the stem on its own tends to be overripe. thus, your timing of harvesting your dragon fruit is crucial.
Your dragon fruit can last for up to 2 weeks while keeping it in the refrigerator.
Moreover, dragon fruit is rather exotic and may not be to everyone’s taste.
If you do enjoy it, it is packed with vitamin C and a number of other beneficial minerlas and antioxidants.
The large, edible flowers that this cactus produces are also beautiful and impressive.
They tend to be white and have a strong fragrance.
But they are often nocturnal, thus, you will only get to enjoy and pick them up once the sun goes down.
Growing Dragon Fruit Indoors
Interestingly, you can grow dragon fruit indoors if your home has a location with plenty of sunlight like a sunroom, or a large window, where there are 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
As a climber with aerial roots that emerge from its branches and latch onto objects, that plant will need support to grow upright, just like it needs in outdoor settings.
Let’s discuss the growing factors your dragon fruit will need while indoors.
Your dragon fruit plant needs 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight a day to develop flowers and fruits.
Moreover, sun from an east-facing window and evening sun from a west-facing window is ideal.
However, if your window is south facing, it might be too intense and scorch your plant.
One workaround is to rotate your plant 180 degrees at regular intervals so that it gets even exposure.
You can also use supplemental grow light instead of 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
However, make sure they are full-spectrum LED lights. If your plant has been in shade for a while, gradually adapt your plant to light.
Start by placing the light about 30 inches away and moving it closer over the course of a few days.
The ideal room temperature for dragon fruit is between 65 to 85F, as it does not tolerate temperatures over 100 F.
Usually, 30 to 50% humidity is enough for the dragon fruit. During the heating period in the winter, place a humidity tray will pebbles, use a humidifier, or mist the plant from above.
Other Factors to Consider while planting Indoors
Water your plant carefully, as it is sensitive to overwatering. However, it can withstand some dry conditions as it is phylloclades, its leaf-like branches retain water.
Make sure to water when the top of your soil feels dry during the growing season.
During fall and winter, however, cut down on watering.
Dragon fruit is a vigorous grower that needs to be cut back and thinned out at least once a year to make sure there is good air circulation.
Despite being a tropical plant, it only grows during summer. Fertilize them once a month with a low nitrogen fertilizer as an excess of it can cause excessive vegetative growth and you should avoid it.
Common Pests and Diseases
Depending on the location of your home, wild animals can often find your dragon fruit attractive and appealing.
You may need to take certain measures to protect your cactus and its fruit from rats, raccoons, birds, and more.
Moreover, your plant is also attractive to ants, mealybugs, mites, and slugs.
Additionally, stem and fruit canker and rot can be an issue for dragon fruit cacti.
In order to avoid any types of issues, make sure that your cactus gets the right amount of sun, moisture, and air circulation.