Dragon Fruit Plant: How to Grow and Care for Them

Strange looking on the outside but truly yummy on the inside is what defines the exotic Dragon Fruit. And if you have ever thought about getting this pink-skinned green spine fruit plant into your garden then here we handhold you through all the details of how to grow and care for the Benefits of Dragon Fruit Plant right in your garden.

What is Dragon Fruit Plant? 

Dragon fruit

Dragon Fruit or Hylocereus undatus or pitahaya traces its origin to South and Central America. It is a cactus that needs heat throughout the year. The plant is tolerant to slight frost but too much freezing would damage the plant. These are vines and need something to climb on.

Botanical NameSelenicereus undatus
Common NameHylocereus undatus
Familycactus
Plant TypeGenus Hylocereus, genus Selenicereus
Plant Size & SpreadGrows to 20 feet tall, and spreads to 2–3 m
Bloom TimeEarly summer through mid-autumn
Flower colourYellow skin or pink skin with white flesh. Pink skin with pink flesh
ToxicityNeither poisonous nor toxic

Types of Dragon Fruit Plant

Here are the different kinds of Dragon Fruit Plants.

1. Hylocereus Megalanthus

Hylocereus-megalanthus-Yellow-Dragonfruit

This plant variety produces white fruit flesh and has a yellow shell. The shell looks thorny and it is also a rare variety.

2. Hylocereus Undatus

Hylocereus Undatus

This is a variation of the above variety with white flesh but the exterior of the fruit is red.

3. Hylocereus Costaricensis

Hylocereus Undatus

The fruit has red color on the flesh and the shell.

Things to Consider About Dragon Fruit Plant

Growing Conditions for Dragon Fruit Plant

  • When to Plant Dragon Fruit?

The plant best grows in the hot summer months and this is when you should ideally plant it. Dragon Fruit plant does not grow through the rest of the year.

The blooms can be seen between July to October but the plant blooms only one night every year. After the flowering, the fruits start to form. The plant can produce fruits for over 20 to 30 years.

  • How Long Does Dragon Fruit Plant Take to Grow?

The Dragon Fruit Plant can start to flower in as little as 6 to 8 months. It takes two years for the plant to bear fruit.

  • Preparation

The area where you decide to plant the Dragon Fruit Plant should be sunny and receive at least 6 hours of sunlight in the day. Prepare the soil bed using potting soil so that it gets drained well.

Benefits of Dragon Fruit Plant

Here are some of the benefits of planting the Dragon Fruit Plant in your garden.

  • These look stunning in your backyard.
  • Dragon Fruit is rich in vitamin C, boosts your immune system, does not contain cholesterol, and has high vitamin levels.
  • Carotene present in Dragon Fruit has high anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Eating Dragon Fruit improves metabolism.

Are Dragon Fruit Plants Toxic?

Dragon Fruit is a non-toxic plant, though you need to be careful about its thorns that could prick and break your skin. This could trigger a histamine response where the body’s immune system responds to the foreign matter. Unless you are allergic to the fruit it is safe to grow the Dragon Fruit Plant in your backyard.

How to Plant Dragon Fruit?

Caring and Growing of Plant

Unlike the other plants from the cactus family, Dragon Fruit is a climbing plant that needs support. It needs humidity and heat to grow. It is a great idea to plant Dragon Fruit in a pot which lets you move the pot indoors when the weather gets hot.

How to Plant Dragon Fruit Seeds?

  • To prepare the seed cut a Dragon Fruit and scoop its black seeds. Now wash the pulp and flesh from the seeds and let the seeds rest on a moist paper towel for around 12 hours.
  • Sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the soil and cover them with a thin soil layer. The seed does not have to go very deep.
  • The soil should be evenly moist. If you feel that the soil dries out fast then wrap the soil bed using plastic to trap the moisture till the seed germinates.
  • When the seedling starts to grow, thin them so that each new plant gets some room. The plant can be grown indoors but transplant it into large pots. The mature plant will need a pot that holds twenty-gallon
  • After the plant reaches 12 inches in length it will need a support system to grow as these are climbing cacti. You will need to set up a trellis for the same.

How to Plant Dragon Fruit Cuttings?

  • Do not cut a lot from the mature plant if you wish to grow Dragon Fruit Plant from cutting. Also, the best time to grow the cutting is in the summer months.
  • Cut three or six inches and apply fungicide on the ends letting the cutting dry. The steps promote growth. 
  • Dry the cutting for five days when you will see that the ends turn white indicating that the cutting is ready to be planted.

Dragon Fruit Plant Care

Sunlight

The plant’s base can survive in a bit of shade but its tips need full sun exposure to bloom well. The plant does not fruit if it grows in too much shade.

Watering

Since the plant is a cactus make sure to water it well. Water it when the top of the soil becomes dry to touch and never let the plant sit on the water. The soil should be kept moist but not soaked.

Temperature 

The ideal temperature to grow the Dragon Fruit Plant is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It does not grow in cold conditions. Its optimal temperature should range between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity

The Dragon Fruit Plant is a subtropical cactus that thrives in mild humid conditions.

Soil

The plant needs well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH level between 6 to 7. Sandy soil is the best, if available.

Wintering

The plant should stay at 32 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit as it is not hardy in the cold or hot weather. 70 degrees is perfect. If the weather outside is too cold then get your plant inside and keep it where it can get some amount of sunlight.

Pruning

The plant needs pruning to train it on the trellis and improves its air circulation. It helps the plant to maintain its height and prevents any fungal infections. Else the plant can easily grow to 20 feet.

Pruning should be done annually by removing the decaying overgrowing and overcrowding dead stems letting only the productive and healthier ones stay.

Deadheading

The Dragon Fruit Plant should not be deadheaded till it reaches a year old until they have had one flowering and fruiting season.

Fertilizer

Give the Dragon Fruit Plant some fertilizer to improve its growth. The plant should be fertilized once every month in its active growing season. Do not fertilize it in the winter months.

Feeding

Dragon Fruit Plants are low maintenance and not a heavy feeder so you do not need a lot of fertilizers. Overfertilization could damage the plant. Also, use an organic fertilizer that is low in nitrogen.

Propagation

Cut one full segment of the mature plant to propagate it. Ideally, a 6-15 inch cut should suffice. Cut slanted on the open end and treat it using fungicide. Let it cure before you plant it.

Pests & Diseases

The Dragon Fruit Plant is not susceptible to pests and diseases. However, you may want to be watchful of:

  • Caterpillars, snugs, and snails chew on the plant, especially during its immature stage.
  • High levels of humidity and excess watering cause fungal problems which develop diseases on the stems, fruit, and flowers. In such a case pruning is essential.
  • Due to excess water, the plant may bear split fruit. Stem and root rot is common in areas where the soil is badly drained.

Conclusion

The Dragon Fruit Plant is a climbing cactus that grows thick and tall with succulent branches. It would surprise you to know that the plant produces one of the largest flowers called the night-blooming cereus that blooms only on one night. It is gorgeous and fills the air with its soothing tropical scent.

The fruit however may look strange but it does taste yum. It brings with it a host of nutrients. You can get all the benefits of this fruit by planting it in your garden. Just ensure that the spot where you plant it receives at least six hours of sunlight each day. Also, follow all the care instructions listed above to grow your Dragon Fruit Plant in your backyard.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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