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How to fertilize dragon fruit

How to fertilize dragon fruit

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A relatively new crop and fruit plant for warm-winter areas, dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) is a cactus native to subtropical and tropical Mexico and Central and South America. Flattened, leaf-like stems have scalloped edges. Large, white, night-blooming flowers give rise to oval, red, edible fruits filled with sweet pulp and small, black seeds. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, the sprawling, vine-like plant can reach 30 feet long. To grow dragon fruit as a garden crop rather than as an ornamental, plants need regular fertilizer, lots of space and stout trellising. )

One-year-old Plants

Inorganic fertilizer formulations give quick release of the major plant nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Combine them with slower-release, more complex arrays of nutrients found in organic fertilizers such as aged manure or compost. For newly planted dragon fruit, don’t apply fertilizer during the first month. Then apply 4 ounces of a fertilizer such as 6-6-6 or 8-3-9 every two months from the time growth starts in early spring to early fall, when growth stops for the winter. Scatter the fertilizer evenly around the plant, from about 3 inches away from the stem to about 12 inches away from the plant. Water it in thoroughly. Also add a summer application of 4 pounds of well-decomposed manure or compost per plant, keeping it from touching the plant’s stem. )

Two- and Three-year-old Plants

After it has been in the ground for a year, the dragon fruit’s roots have become established and are more efficient at harvesting nutrients from the soil. Plants grow faster and need more nutrition. Apply 5 to 6 ounces of the same inorganic fertilizer every two months in a wider diameter around the plant and increase the amount of manure or compost added to the top of the soil to 6 pounds.

Older Plants

For dragon fruit plants four years old or more, make three to four inorganic fertilizer applications spread evenly through the growing season of 8 to 12 ounces each. Apply manure or compost twice, once in the spring and once in mid-summer, using about 5 pounds each time.

Ornamental Landscaping Plants

When growing dragon fruit as a landscaping plant without concern for fruit production, not much fertilizer is needed. Plants are drought-tolerant once established and less fertilizer means slower growth and less need for pruning to maintain the size, important if you have limited garden room. Fertilize plants once in early spring and again after the plants finish flowering with a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Mix 1 tablespoon of fertilizer for every gallon of water. Soak the root zone of the plant.

  • Online Plant Guide: Hylocereus Undatus/Night Blooming Cereus, Dragonfruit
  • World Agroforestry: Dragon Fruit
  • Identification, Selection, and Use of Southern Plants: For Landscape Design; Neil G. Odenwald, James R. Turner

Carolyn Csanyi began writing in 1973, specializing in topics related to plants, insects and southwestern ecology. Her work has appeared in the “American Midland Naturalist” and Greenwood Press. Csanyi holds a Doctor of Philosophy in biology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

By: Rochelle French

21 September, 2017

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is a native of Latin America and is now being cultivated in Asian countries, primarily for the nutritional content of the fruit. Dragon fruit are eaten in salads, made into drinks, and the color is used to dye food. The dragon fruit plant is a climbing cactus and is best suited for propagation in dry areas. The long white flowers, which bloom only at night (the plant is also called night-blooming cereus), produce fleshy, scaled fruit. Dragon fruit can be grown either as an ornamental or to bear fruit. Ornamental dragon fruit does not require fertilization. However, dragon fruit grown for food requires frequent fertilization to produce a healthy crop. The root system of the dragon fruit sits close to the surface and quickly absorbs existing nutrition in the soil. Correct fertilizing can lead to a bountiful harvest of dragon fruit.

  • Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is a native of Latin America and is now being cultivated in Asian countries, primarily for the nutritional content of the fruit.
  • The root system of the dragon fruit sits close to the surface and quickly absorbs existing nutrition in the soil.

Apply 3 oz. of 13-13-13 fertilizer around the base of the plant 3 months after planting. Surround the base of the plant with 4 lbs. of well-composted cow manure. Keep manure away from the stem.

Repeat application of fertilizer every 3 to 4 months during the first year of growth. Stop fertilizing 10 days before harvest.

  • of 13-13-13 fertilizer around the base of the plant 3 months after planting.

Apply 0.3 to 0.4 lbs. fertilizer every 2 months during the second and third year. Increase manure to to 6 lbs. during the second and third years, spreading manure around the base of each plant.

During and following the fourth year, increase fertilizer to 0.5 to 0.75 lbs., applying three to four times a year. Add 5 lbs. of manure twice a year.

  • fertilizer every 2 months during the second and third year.
  • During and following the fourth year, increase fertilizer to 0.5 to 0.75 lbs.,

If you garden organically and want to avoid chemical fertilizers, dragon fruit respond well to an application of cow manure alone.

Dragon fruit do best in well-drained soils.

Dragon fruit can be grown in containers and moved indoors during the colder seasons.

By: Michelle Goldman

16 September, 2009

Native to Central America, dragon fruit is popular for its refreshing tropical fruit, medicinal qualities and ornamental night-blooming flowers. The French introduced the dragon fruit to the Vietnamese over 100 years ago. Today, Vietnam is the top commercial producer of dragon fruit in this region. Dragon fruit is a climbing cactus that is utilized for food, medicine, decorative landscaping and food coloring. The plant’s genus name, Hylocerus, means “wax’ or “torch-like” and grows best in dry, tropical climates.

Apply fertilizer 2 to 3 months after planting a dragon fruit tree. This is when the tree starts growing.

During the first year after planting a dragon fruit cactus, fertilize every 8 weeks with light doses (1/4 lb) of fertilizer.

In the second and third years, gradually increase fertilizer to 1/3 lb per dragon fruit cactus every 2 months. Add 6 lbs of manure or compost around the base of each cactus every 6 months.

All following years, increase fertilizer to 1/2 lb to 3/4 lb per cactus plant. Apply fertilizer every 4 months. Add 5 lbs of manure or compost for each dragon fruit plant every 6 months.

Dragon fruit plants thrive best in tropical climates.

Depending upon soil conditions, location, climate, and a myriad of other parameters, the above general guidelines must be modified to suit individual dragon fruit growing needs.

Do not over-fertilize or over-water a dragon fruit cactus. Doing either can kill it.

Dragon fruit is an incredible cactus that produces strange looking fruit resembling a magical dragon egg. Cut through the vibrant pinky red skin to reveal white or pink flesh speckled with tiny black seeds. The taste is hard to pin down with some saying it’s a sweet mix of mild kiwi fruit, watermelon, strawberry and pear flavours. Others describe it as only vaguely sweet or even savoury. Confused? Well growing conditions and ripeness of the fruit can impact taste but nonetheless it’s visually impressive and packed full of nutrients, like Vitamin C, so you can’t go wrong.

If the fruit isn’t enough to you tempt you then don’t forget the flowers. Their stunning large flowers are easily over 20cm wide and appear in summer. They are yellowy green on the outside and open to a scented white, lily like bloom. Flowers open in the evening and only last one night. It’s the perfect excuse to host an evening cocktail party and enjoy their blooms!

Dragon Fruit Types
The name dragon fruit is used to refer to several types of cacti that produce edible fruits. In Australia the mostly grown species are:

  • Hylocereus undatus (white fleshed fruit)
  • Hylocereus costaricensis (red fleshed fruit). Also known as H. polyrhizus.
  • Hylocereus megalanthus (yellow skin and white flesh)

There are also named varieties available but the good news is that regardless of what type you get they all need the same basic growing conditions.

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How to fertilize dragon fruit

Dragon fruits overall are quite light feeders. If unfertilized however, they tend to grow more slowly. During the initial growing stage, a balanced nitrogen feed is good for the dragon fruit plant. It helps promote more root & branch growth. As it reaches flowering & fruiting, boosting up the phosphorous & potassium will help.

In some soil mix, people spread hay on the top surface. Every 6 months or so you can sprinkle a bit of chicken manure on top to help the hay decompose. As the hay breaks down, it becomes food for the plants & enriches the soil. If you have dragon fruit skins, dried flowers or branches lying around, those are great additions to help the soil fertility too.

To increase the “stickiness” of the medium, try azomite. This material has dozens of minerals in it & helps keep vital nutrients in the soil not being washed away with watering. It can be good for long-lasting feeding.

A to Z minerals
How to fertilize dragon fruit
70+ beneficial elements
Low-dust
Organic

Feeding Ideas

Some fertilizers might have a heating property to it. Before feeding your plants, open the fertilizer bag, spread it out a bit.

Try not to put the feed too close to the base of the plant. Space them out about 20+ inches (half a meter) away from the base. If possible, dilute the fertilizer & spray it around.

If the plant is young, feed it a bit less. Around 1-2 scoops will be good enough. If the plant is bigger, we can give them 3-4 scoops. You can feed it every 1-2 months.

Dragon fruits also absorb nutrients from their foliage surprisingly well. Some foliage spray may also work. Over-feeding them with too much nitrogen can kill the plants. Slow release over time feed works well for this purpose.

Here is a cheap fert many people use:

Good organic feed
How to fertilize dragon fruit

When flower buds are beginning to show up, we can stop the feeding & reduce the water amount. When the fruits are beginning to ripe (the fruit nourishing stage), don’t feed them too much. Feeding too much at this stage causes the fruits to turn very dark green. This actually creates some tightening of the fruits & can actually be counter-productive and slow down their growth.

And regarding watering, about 1-2 weeks before the fruits reach their peak, reduce the water amount and don’t over-water. This helps minimize cracking and partly helps make the fruits taste sweeter. (For more ideas on how to grow sweeter dragon fruits, check out this post later).

For simplicity, you can break down the feeding into three stages. It’s good to feed before that stage arrives so the plants have some time to absorb & use the nutrients. When flowers start to turn dry & yellow (a bit like hay) on the fruits, we can begin water to keep the plants moist.

Here are the three stages:

Stage Food For
Branch growing 20-20-15
16-16-8
Building up branches
Flower forming 19-19-19
16-16-16
Balance for flowering & fruiting
Fruit forming 13-10-20 Nourshing fruits

The amount depends on how young/old the plants are. If it’s about to rain, then apply the feed sooner for the third stage. As the fruits ripen, reduce the amount of food so the scales of the fruits won’t turn too red. Potassium can help with fruit formation & create nice skin colors.

Organic Homemade Dragon Fruit Fertilizer

If you’re looking for an organic fertilizer for dragon fruits, then check out these 3 recipes below. This organic fertilizer is called EM1 (or effective microorganism) and it can be made at home very easily:

EM1 fertilizer mix utilizes the synergy of activity from the good bacteria all around us–most dominantly the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) which can be found in billions in foods like milk or yogurt. It helps break down hard-to-digest nutrients and boost the soil fertility, even for clayey hardened soil, naturally.

Results Growers Have Seen With EM1.

With some EM1 mixed into the soil, dragon fruit plants that usually give fruits once a year now produce 4 pushes a year, while still remaining strong.

Best part is, all of this is totally organic & you are using natural solutions to help with natural production. So no harmful pesticides or chemicals in the long run. And the stuff is renewable.

Do Different Dragon Fruit Varieties Need Different Fertilizing Methods?

A visitor asked on our forums if the fertilizing method is different for different varieties.

From what we’ve asked around, they usually fertilize different varieties in very much the same way–be it the red or white dragon fruits. For watering however, the other varieties get watered once a week while the Ecuador Palora twice.

Happy Feeding Dragons

So above we’ve explored some good feed & feeding ideas for your dragon fruits. If you have any tips for feeding these dragons, please leave us a comment to share your experience. We would love to hear from anyone with this same interest. Thanks for tuning in & See you again next time.

Responses to Readers’ Questions

Can you suggest some organic Fertilizers for dragon fruit?

–> If you have dried dragon fruit flowers or dragon fruit skins from previous season, you could throw some around the base for fertilizing. It re-nourishes the earth and is free organic fertilizer. Some growers use Real Growers Recharge, Flora Nova or Steer manure.

You could sprinkle some organic chicken manure or hay on the top soil. If you’d like, make some compost tea for the plants using molasses, bat guano, worm castings. Rainwater is also a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer. Herbivore manure (goat, cow) is also okay because it has less of a heating property which could burn the roots.

Although there are many choices, look for the ones that are readily available at lower costs in your local area. Use some to see how the plants re-act. Alternatively, you could make your own effectively with simple ingredients (EM recipes). In your soil mix, don’t use too much sand because it makes the fruits less sweet. Use something ‘sticky’ like azomite instead so the nutrients in the fertilizer can stick in, nourishing the fruits. And I hope this helps!

How to make my dragon fruit bear big fruits..they have a lot of fruits but is not big as what i had seen from the market..

–> Thanks for your question. To make dragon fruits bear big fruits, here are some ideas you can try:

Dragon fruit or Pitaya grows best in uniformly distributed rainfall throughout the year. It prefers free draining soil with sandy to clay loam types, 5.3 to 6.7 pH and high organic matter. However, Pitaya is also grown successfully in sandy soils. Pitaya is shallow rooted with most roots concentrated on top 15- 30 cm soil depth.

Dragon fruit or pitaya is a vining epiphytic cactus from the humid tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Like their desert counterparts they are able to tolerate harsh dry conditions but only for a limited time.

The fruit is round , often red colored fruit with prominent scales . The thin rind encloses the large mass of sweetly flavored white or red pulp and small black seeds. Some varieties are pinkish or yellow.

It can be taken as fruit, flower, vegetable, health product and medicine as well, called “priceless treasure”.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Dragon Fruit Varieties

1. Red Varieties – Fruits have been used to combat anemia

a) Hylocereus undatus:
* Climbing cactus with large, scented, night blooming flowers
* Fruit weighs 1 kg or more with light melon-like taste
* Fruit has bright red skin, with translucent white flesh and tiny black seeds
* With triangular cross-section of its stem and minimal spines

b) Hylocereus polyrhizus
* Fruit weighs up to 1 kg
* With red skin, dark-red flesh which contains small black seeds
* Stems have more spines

2. Yellow Variety
* Selenicereus megalanthus
* Smaller fruit with yellow skin and clear to white flesh containing edible black seeds
* Sweeter than red varieties
* Contains the heart tonic captine

Elevation

Optimum elevation is 100 to 800 meters above sea level preferably with 30% shade to full sun as Pitaya grows slowly when shaded.

Propagation

Pitaya is propagated by seeds or stem cuttings. The latter is more preferred. Stem cuttings were raised in the nursery for 2 -3 months.

Plant Establishment

Recommended planting distance is 3 meters between concrete posts and 4 meters between rows. A narrower spacing gives quicker production than larger spacing. Higher density plantings produce quicker returns, but plants will begin to crowd each other sooner.

Planting is done at 3 to 4 plants per post, Rooted cuttings may be planted directly or kept in 9″ x 13″ black polyethylene bags. For direct rooted cuttings, position them 15 cm away from the post at and angle leaning towards the post. Direct planting is 5 cm depth, while for transplants, hole depth should be same as height of plastic bag’s soil depth. Irrigate and protect newly emerging foliar buds from ants and other insects.

Fertilizer/ Nutrients

Apply a handful of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) 3 months after planting and continue fertilizer applications every 3 months thereafter. Pitaya also requires organic matter. Nitrogen is necessary during the vegetative growth of the plant and is reduced during dormant and pre-flowering stages (later December to mid-March). Apply foliar sprays every 2 weeks during vegetative stage and less during fruiting stage.

Frequency of fertilizer application varies according to personal judgment and preferences. Optimum frequency and quantity depends on the plant’s response. Pitaya is very responsive to soil and foliar fertilizer applications.

Pruning

Major and minor pruning is a regular orchard operation regardless of age of Pitaya. Prune to obtain an open, manageable and productive umbrella shaped canopy.

Pest and Diseases

The roots, stems, foliar and flower buds, flower and fruit are attacked by a range of pests and diseases. Pests include mites, thrips, ants, scale insects, mealy bugs, beetles, slugs, borers, nematodes, fruit flies and rodents such as mice, birds, or bats. Chlorpyrifos-based insecticides may be used to control ants and other pests as well.

Copper-based fungicides (copper, copper oxychloride, dithane M45, cupravit, mancozeb, etc. can be applied at appropriate dosage and spray as needed. Systemic fungicides such as benomyl, carbendazim, azcxystrobin,etc. are also effective in wide range of pitaya diseases.

Avoid, however, pesticide spraying when nearing harvest time. Bagging of green fruit using clear perforated polyethylene bags (China-made) are recommended to protect fruit from fruit fly stings.

Weeding/ Sanitation

Gasoline-driven weedcutters are recommended for orchards. Handweed within the inner 30 diameter of each post to avoid damage to plants. Control weeds as they harbor pests and compete with soil nutrients.

Irrigation

Water requirement of Pitaya is similar to papaya. Irrigation is critical during fertilizer applications and fruiting. Excess drying of soil and less frequent irrigation results in abnormally high splitting of fruit. For newly planted Pitaya, allow soil to dry before irrigation to avoid rots.

Harvest

Harvesting indices include full red coloration of the terminal petal and swelling of the navel end to the point of cracking. Based on Davao planting, harvest period include: First Cycle of harvest -June – October; 2nd Cycle of harvest – December – January.

* Fruit is harvested from 30-50 days after flowering
* 5-6 fruit crop cycles a year (between May and November)
* Stored at 5°C with 90% relative humidity and can be stored for up to 40 days
* Average weight per fruit ranges from 200 to 1.2 kg

Profit from Dragon Fruits
Since its establishment 5 years ago, many interested farmers who wanted to grow dragon fruit and even buyers in Davao City now frequently visited the techno-demo farm in Manambulan, Davao City. With the successful production technologies on dragon fruit, better opportunities, both production- and market-wise, lie ahead.

According to Mr. Estellena, the potential of dragonfruit is very much bright because it commands a very high price in the local market; it costs around P120-150 per kilo. He added that, a three-year old dragonfruit can produce 5-6 t/ha amounting to P720,000 in the local market alone. It is no wonder that dragon fruit is now dubbed as the new money crop-truly, a high revenue earner.

The group of Mr. Estellena, aside from showcasing the production technologies on dragon fruit, is now distributing planting materials to interested growers.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Noel T. Estellena
Senior Agriculturist
DA-SMIARC, Bago Oshiro, Tugbok District, Davao City
Telefax; (082) 293-0109 or (082) 293-0136
E-mail: [email protected]

Produced by: Knowledge Management– Farmer Information and Technology Service Center (KMFITS)
DA-SMIARC, Bago Oshiro, Tugbok District, Davao City

Sources: TLRC, BAR
Photo credit: jetsetzero.tv

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Fertilize plants once in early spring and again after the plants finish flowering with a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Mix 1 tablespoon of fertilizer for every gallon of water.

  1. Water. Dragon fruit need moist soil to mimic their subtropical environment, so be sure to keep the soil evenly moist and don’t let it dry out completely. …
  2. Support. …
  3. Prune. …
  4. Fertilize. …
  5. Pollinate. …
  6. Keep at temperature.

Beside this, how do I get my dragon fruit to produce more fruit?

Why does my dragon fruit keep dying?

The most likely cause is inadequate growing conditions. The dragon fruit cactus is a tropical plant, which means it likes heat. … Since it’s a cactus, many gardeners assume the pitaya doesn’t need much water. In fact, it likes its soil to be kept consistently moist and should be given about an inch (2.5 cm.)

9 Related Question Answers Found

What kind of fertilizer is 20/20 20?

Our 20 20 20 Garden Fertilizer is a multi-purpose, premium fertilizer that can be used at all stages of plant growth in the vegetable garden. It contains equal amounts of nitrogen (20%), phosphorous (20%) and potassium (20%) to provide a balanced formula for your vegetable plants.

Why is dragon fruit so expensive?

There’s a higher demand than supply. The law of supply and demand dictates the cost of nearly every commercial good, and dragon fruit is no different. … Organic fruits and vegetables also tend to cost more than the run-of-the-mill variety and organic dragon fruit can cost double the price.

Is cow manure good for dragon fruit?

Surround the base of the plant with 4 lbs. of well-composted cow manure. Keep manure away from the stem. Repeat application of fertilizer every 3 to 4 months during the first year of growth.

How do you make dragon fruit grow faster?

How deep are dragon fruit roots?

Dragon fruit roots are epiphytic and shallow, and extends within 20 – 30 cm. But before the fruits are produced, the dragon fruit roots usually extend to a depth of 45 – 63 cm, which is the result of the brown stems embedded in the soil.

Is dragon fruit a cactus?

While you may not initially equate “cactus” with “edible,” the dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is indeed borne on a cactus.

What month do dragon fruit flower?

This unique jungle plant typically blooms from early summer through mid-autumn. Dragon fruit cactus is a night blooming plant and the flowers last only one evening.

How long does it take for a dragon fruit tree to bear fruit?

If dragon fruit has intrigued you, the small seeds scattered throughout its flesh can be sprouted easily and grown into a dragon fruit plant of your own. Plants can begin flowering in as little as six to eight months, although container-grown plants may take up to two years to bear fruit.

What month is dragon fruit in season?

The summer (June through September) is the main season for fresh dragon fruit. August and September are the peak months for most varieties; however, varieties of Selenecereus megalanthus produce fruit during the winter months of November through February (Lobo et al, 2015).

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Similarly one may ask, what is the best fertilizer for dragon fruit?

Fertilize plants once in early spring and again after the plants finish flowering with a water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Mix 1 tablespoon of fertilizer for every gallon of water.

Subsequently, question is, how do I get my dragon fruit to bloom? How to Induce Flowering in Dragon Fruit

  1. Move your plant into a greenhouse.
  2. Extend the length of daylight your dragon fruit plant receives.
  3. Train the dragon fruit plant up a trellis.
  4. Prune the tips of the plant’s uppermost stems after it climbs up the trellis.
  5. Prune any dying or damaged branches and stems from your dragon fruit plant.

Thereof, when should I prune dragon fruit?

Pruning Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

  1. Step 1 – Before: Pruning should occur after the last harvest in May-June.
  2. Step 2 – Clean main stem: Branches growing up the main stem must be removed.
  3. Step 3 – Remove old growth: Selectively remove the older branches from underneath.
  4. Step 4 – Cut back clean: Cut branches back to the original stem.

Does dragon fruit need a lot of water?

Dragon Fruit’s Water Needs Because they live in areas of frequent rain showers, the dragon fruit needs more water than its desert cactus cousins. It’s still a cactus, however, so too much water is as bad as too little. To strike a balance, make sure your dragon fruit plant gets about an inch of water per week.

As part of my summer visit in the US, I got an opportunity to join Scott Todd from the Haifa North America office on his tour with our local distributers and growers in southern Florida.

Florida, known for its humid climate condition and heavy precipitation in the Miami area is ideal for tropical crops that love wet climate, with lots of rain, high temperatures and humidity. Under such conditions, commodities fertilizers can be easily leached to ground water, leading to a negative environmental impact.

Multicote™ Agri, Controlled Release Fertilizer provides good solution for this issue. Growers can fertilize once or twice a year, and with the correct formulation the crop will enjoy continuous feed all year long, with high/low levels of N/P/K per crop demand. The unique polymeric coating is an effective solution for continuous release of nutrients to the root zone, matching plant requirements without contamination of groundwater.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Pitaya

Also known as Dragon Fruit is a tropical crop, not a tree, but a Cactus. The grower, was very happy with Multicote™ Agri due to reduction on labor costs – the single application saves the need deal with fertilizing every few weeks.

Did you know?

Pitaya’s flowers bloom only at night and they use bats & moths for polination

Learning how to grow dragon fruit is really not that hard! Dragon fruit is a cactus that is actually quite adaptive to its environment.

You’ve seen this strange looking fruit in the grocery store. The bright pink skin with alien green spines is hard to miss. But have you ever tried a dragon fruit?

This exotic fruit is really unique and yummy! It is super hydrating and especially satisfying when chilled, and the tiny black seeds add a nice crunch to the sweet and soft flesh.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Dragon fruit garden in California.

Aside from the deliciously delicate flavor, the fruit of a dragon fruit tree is extremely healthy. It’s full of antioxidants, easy to digest carbohydrates, and omega fatty acids in the seeds.

It might look intimidating, but the skin of this fruit is actually quite soft and the spines on the outside won’t stab you when you hold the fruit.

There are many ways to use dragon fruit including sauces, salsas, and smoothies, but it’s actually quite good sliced in half and eaten out of its skin with a spoon.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

The lucious magenta fruit of the Pitaya cactus.

Who can grow dragon fruit?

If you want to grow dragon fruit cactus, I say go for it!

It’s especially easy in warm environments, but if you have a greenhouse or sun porch, you can grow dragon fruit in colder environments.

Dragon fruit is an exotic fruit, and in most of the southern US, you can grow a dragon fruit plant in pots on your patio if you’re careful to protect it from cold weather. If you live in US Hardiness Zones 10-11, you’ll be able to grow dragon fruit outdoors year round.

In other zones, you’ll want to grow your dragon fruit in a container so you can bring it indoors for the winter. The ideal growing temperatures for dragon fruit are between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anything below 32F will kill your plant. Anything over 100F will damage the fruit and cause it to wilt.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Rows of dragon fruit trees on a farm in California.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

How to grow dragon fruit in a container

Choose a container that is at least 10 inches deep and 24 inches wide. This equates to about a 10-gallon pot.

Dragon fruit, also known as Pitaya, is a vining cactus, so you will need to provide a sturdy support in your container. Otherwise, the cactus will grow over the edges of your container and sprawl along the ground until it finds something to climb.

Make sure to use a sandy, well draining soil made for cactus plants. If your container does not have several drain holes, then you will need to add them so the roots of the plant never become soggy.

Pick a sunny location for your dragon fruit plant. At least 6-8 hours of sun. The plant will tolerate some shade, and may even require it in very warm environments.

Remember, anything over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will damage your dragon fruit.

Over watering will kill your dragon fruit. So give it a light mist or drip when the soil is dry, but the plant is not wilting. A drip line or mister from above works well for these plants.

To accomplish this, install a drip line and attach it to the center support in your container. Place the drip nozzle at the top of the support line and let it run down the pole.

This is the most effective way to water your dragon fruit and will keep it very happy.

Growing dragon fruit from cuttings

You can start dragon fruit seedlings from the seeds inside the fruit, but it is recommended that you grow dragon fruit from cuttings.

There are many varieties of dragon fruit that range in color, flavor, and production. Some dragon fruit need to be hand pollinated, some rarely set fruit even when pollinated. Some take longer to ripen, and some take a very short period to ripen.

The best way to know what you are getting is to grow your dragon fruit from cuttings supplied from a nursery or good friend.

Be gentle with the roots of your cutting, and try not to disturb them too much. Gentle loosening of the small roots on the surface of the rootball is adequate. Plant your dragon fruit in fertile, sandy soil level with the rootball.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Rows of dragon fruit cuttings in the foreground. Dragon fruit growing in containers and up the wall in the background.

Fertilizing dragon fruit

Cacti are low maintenance plants. They are NOT heavy feeders and do not require a lot of fertilizer. In fact, over fertilization will harm your plant. Choose an organic, low nitrogen fertilizer and apply at planting and then every other month…or less.

Learn how to tell if your fertilizer is low in nitrogen with these fertilizer basics.

Dragon fruit flowering and pollination

One of the coolest things about the dragon fruit is its flowers. They are stunning white blooms that only open for one night! Some, but not all varieties of dragon fruit are self-pollinating.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Stunning white flowers of the Pitaya cactus.

If you choose a variety that is not self-pollinating, then you will need to rely on pollinators like bees or get out early in the morning and pollinate the plants yourself. For best results, choose a self-pollinating plant.

How to tell when dragon fruit is ripe

Once your dragon fruit plant sets fruit, wait to harvest it until it turns color . Most dragon fruit will turn a gorgeous bright pink magenta color, but some are bright yellow.

In general, the longer it stays on the plant, the sweeter it gets. In most cases, a dragon fruit takes about 30 days to ripen.

Ants will sometimes eat your fruit before you can harvest it, so watch out for those nasty pests!

If you do find you’re having trouble with ants, try one of these 57 all-natural ways to get rid of ants.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Fruits growing on a dragon fruit tree.

Dragon fruit recipes

Eating your dragon fruit is the best part!

A chilled fruit tastes much better, in my opinion. Slice your fruit in half and eat it out of its shell with a spoon. So amazingly delicious!

Dragon fruit tastes great in all sorts of recipes. Try one of these!

These bold, dramatic plants thrive indoors and out.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

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Ripe Dragon fruit or Pitaya with slice on wooden background , still life

Photo by: GettyImages/Rakratchada Torsap

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Whether magenta and green or bright yellow, the vivid colors of a dragon fruit are hard to miss in a grocery store produce aisle. The fruit tastes mild and subtle, with many small, dark seeds adding a satisfying crunch. This exotic fruit hails from an equally exotic plant — a tropical form of cactus native to Central America.

If dragon fruit has intrigued you, the small seeds scattered throughout its flesh can be sprouted easily and grown into a dragon fruit plant of your own. Plants can begin flowering in as little as six to eight months, although container-grown plants may take up to two years to bear fruit. The good news is that once the plant is mature, you could see four to six fruiting cycles a year from a plant that is capable of bearing fruit for 20 to 30 years.

Starting the Seeds

To grow dragon fruit from seed, slice a dragon fruit in half and use a spoon to scrape out some seeds. Rinse the seeds. Pulp will cling to the seeds, and it’s fine to plant with it attached. Fill a cup or small pot with sterile seed starter or cactus soil mix. Moisten the soil but avoid saturating it with water. Use the spoon to mix the seed into the top quarter inch of soil. Mist if needed to ensure this layer is moist and then cover with a plastic sandwich bag or clear food wrap. The cover will retain moisture and warmth.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Top 10 Rules for Growing a Kitchen Garden 10 Photos

Growing fruits and vegetables isn’t rocket science, but it does involve science. Here are easy tips to help ensure your success in growing food in the garden.

Place the pot under a grow light or in a sunny window. Keep warm and lightly water when needed. The seeds will sprout within 30 days and perhaps much sooner. Thin the seedlings or separate them and give some to friends.

Growing Outdoors

Dragon fruit can grow in the ground in USDA zones 9 through 11, although they must be protected from frost in zone 9. Outdoor dragon fruit thrive in sunny spots or in filtered sun in intensely hot areas. Temperatures that exceed 100 will harm the plant and cause wilt. In areas that receive lots of rain, site the plant on a hill or small mound so water will drain away. Add composted manure or other organic material to planting holes along with some slow-release fertilizer to speed growth.

Growing in Containers

In cooler climates, dragon fruit are ideal for containers. They grow well in a greenhouse, sunroom or indoors placed about two feet away from a sunny south-facing window. Plant lights, such as LEDs on timers, can be used to supplement natural light if needed.

To grow as a container plant, transplant a seedling into a pot with good drainage and use a cactus soil mix or one you blend yourself of sand and potting soil. Add compost to either mix. When the young dragon fruit is six inches tall, move it into a pot that is 15 to 24 inches wide and at least 10 inches deep. Add a trellis or climbing pole to the pot and tie the plant to the support. Outdoor dragon fruits require similar supports, or an arbor, since this is a climbing plant.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Fruits and Vegetables That Grow in the Shade 17 Photos

Though most vegetable plants require full sun (6+ hours a day) to produce the fresh foods we love, some vegetables and fruits can grow in partial shade.

Fertilizing

Begin feeding at three months of age using a low-nitrogen cactus fertilizer or granular 8-4-12 palm fertilizer. Dragon fruit are light feeders, so apply fertilizer every two months only while the plant is actively growing. In cooler areas, the plant will become dormant in fall. Stop fertilizing then and water less frequently until growth resumes in the spring.

Pruning

Fall is the time to prune larger dragon fruit. Sterilize your pruning shears, then remove any decaying or dead foliage or stems. Also, trim to open up areas that are crowded to improve airflow. Left on their own, dragon fruit can grow 20 feet high, so annual pruning is a must. Growth can be vigorous, and mature indoor plants will ultimately need a 20-gallon container.

Pollinating and Harvesting

When the plant begins to flower, prepare for a treat. Buds develop for several weeks, then, when ready to bloom, they open for just one night. Their showy flowers are among the largest in the plant world and release an intoxicating scent. While some dragon fruit plants are self-pollinating, others depend on bats or moths for pollination. To ensure success, it’s best to have a cotton swab on hand and transfer the pollen yourself. Online tutorials show how. Done successfully, the fruit will follow. Leave fruit on the plant until its colors become vivid. When the fruit has a slight give, it is time to harvest and savor the tasty fruit of your labor.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Dragon fruit, also frequently called pitaya, is the fascinating, thoroughly tropical looking fruit you may have seen in the market. This bright pink, scaly fruit comes from a long, winding cactus of the same name. Provided you have warm temperatures and enough space, you can grow a dragon fruit cactus at home. What do you do though if your pitaya won’t fruit? Keep reading to learn more about reasons dragon fruit won’t develop and how to make dragon fruit bear fruit.

Reasons for No Fruit on Pitaya Cactus

There are a few possible reasons your pitaya won’t fruit. The most likely cause is inadequate growing conditions. The dragon fruit cactus is a tropical plant, which means it likes heat. If temperatures are below 65 degrees F. (18 C.), your plant is unlikely even to form flowers. If it’s cool out, bring your plant indoors or, better yet, move it to a greenhouse to try to induce flower and fruit production.

Another common problem is light. A pitaya needs lots of light to fruit, and especially if you’re keeping yours indoors, it just might not be getting enough. Make sure your plant is in a spot that receives a full six hours of sun per day. If you can’t manage this indoors, place it under bright lights instead.

It’s also possible your dragon fruit won’t develop fruit because of a lack of moisture. Since it’s a cactus, many gardeners assume the pitaya doesn’t need much water. In fact, it likes its soil to be kept consistently moist and should be given about an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week.

Dragon fruits usually only develop in the summer, when temperatures are high and the days are long. If it’s winter you likely won’t see any fruit. By increasing the above elements, however, you can extend the fruiting season somewhat.

How to Get Dragon Fruit

Pitaya cacti reach maturity quickly and with proper care should produce fruit for 20 to 30 years. Proper care is key, though. The plants are very long, and can reach 40 feet (12 m.) in length. To encourage fruiting you should give your cactus a tall, sturdy trellis to climb.

Always remove damaged or dying branches. Prune the tips of the uppermost branches to encourage more lateral growth and fruit development.

Dragon Fruits – Fertilization Recommendations

Fertilization Regimen

Dragon Fruit requires judicious application of fertilizer for better yields. The recommendations for fertilizer rates varies considerably. However, it is generally found that the crop requires frequent fertilization at the early stage of growth. The recommended fertilization application in Taiwan is 4kg of organic manure per pillar every 4 months, supplemented with 100g per plant of NPK 13:13:1. In Hawaiian plantations, NPK 16:16:16 is applied at 180 – 230g per pillar every 4 – 6 months. Calcium and micronutrients are also applied to enhance fruit growth and firmness. Low nitrogen fertilizers mixtures of NPK 0:10:10 & 2:10:10 has also been recommended for Dragon Fruits.

In Vietnam, young (less than 3 years old) plants are fertilized with 10 – 15kg of farmyard manure and 100 g of super phosphate/plant at the time of planting. During the first two years, 300 g of urea and 200 g of NPK (16:16:8) is applied to each plant every year. The fertilizer is applied in three lots, at one month, six months and twelve months after planting, respectively (Ke, 1997). According to Tri et al (2000), mature plants (at least three years old) should be fertilized 4 times a year as follows :

For BINH THUAN Dragon Fruit, the fertilization regimen is as follows :

The fertilization regimen reportedly practiced by some farmers in Vietnam is as follows :

The fertilization practice recommended by the Malaysian Department of Agriculture is as follows:

Stage Type of Fertilizer Application Rate per pillar Application Frequency
Young plant (Up to 6 mth) NPK 15:15:15 100g 2 months once
Young plant (7 mths and above) NPK 15:15:15 200g 2 months once
Fruit bearing stage NPK 13:13:21 300g Alternate 1 month fertilization for fruiting and 1 month fertilization for growth
After fruiting NPK 15:15:15 300g Alternate 1 month fertilization for fruiting and 1 month fertilization for growth

The fertilization practice recommended by Department of Agriculture Sarawak is as follows:

Leaving city for countryside

Graduating from University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City and after nearly 20 years of working in the field of finance-marketing and taking up the position of deputy director of a tourism company in Tien Giang, Khanh still decided to do a U turn.

Khanh was born and grew up in Ben Luc district, one of the largest dragon fruit growing of Long An province, he realized that dragon fruit plant could be a potential crop to start a business. With the thought in mind, Khanh decided to leave the city for his hometown to build a brand for his hometown’s dragon fruits.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Vo Van Khanh has developed a dragon fruit garden with GlobalGAP standard, Photo: Minh Sang.

Khanh said in 2019 he decided to switch his family’s three-hectare dragon fruit garden into a GlobalGAP-standard dragon fruit farm.

Although Khanh was a amateur farmer with the lacking of farming skills and knowledge, as a brave person who had many years of working in finance and marketing field he learned new knowledge by himself. He went and visited many models of dragon fruit cultivation within and beyond his province. He even visited agricultural institutes and universities to learn the techniques and methods of growing dragon fruit.

At the same time he learned new farming skills from the internet to apply to his garden.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Khanh’s dragon fruit garden has got GlobalGAP certification. Photo: Tran Trung.

Thanks to his tireless efforts, in May 2021 his dragon fruit farm got GlobalGAP certificate. Despite the complex situation of the coronavirus pandemic his fruits could still enter the highly-demanding market such as the US and Japan.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Vo Van Khanh (right) was introducing his organic-standard dragon fruits to his partners. Photo: Tran Trung.

According to Khanh, growing organic dragon fruit was not complicated. Importantly, the growers must follow the requirements of fertilizer and pesticide use and quarantine period. Especially, all the process of dragon fruit production must be recorded on a daily basis through digital transformation to make traceability more convenient.

Turning dragon fruit stems into organic fertilizer

Growing dragon fruits with GlobalGAP standard is very specific job. Ensuring environmental hygiene is the most difficult part of the farming process. It’s necessary to remove old, disease-infected and fruitless stems. This activity will create a huge amount of crop residues that can provide an environment where pathogens can flourish if they are not treated properly.

Specifically, a dragon fruit plant can have 10-12 kilo of unnecessary or disease-infected stem. There are around 1,200-1,300 wooden or concrete posts in a garden on average. As a result from 12-15 tons of stem must be pruned every year.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

From 12-15 tons of unqualified stem per hectare unit must be removed which will be a burden for living environment. Photo: Minh Sang.

Burying or burning was not a good way to deal with the cut stems. Therefore, Khanh thought “why don’t we turn dragon fruit stems into fertilizer to both return nutrients to the soils and protect environment and saving money?”

From that thought in mind, Khanh once again went to the Southern Fruit Research Institute to suggest the idea and find answers. Thanks to the advices and guidelines from the experts of the Institute he came up with a method of composting to create tens of tons of organic fertilizer every year.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Khanh has also taught other local farmers how to make compost from cut dragon fruit stems. Photo: Tran Trung.

According to Khanh, it was necessary to find out a suitable bio-product to converse the stems into organic fertilizer.

Through the Long An Gardening Association, Khanh finally found an optimal product for his conversion of dragon fruit stems. The cut stems were chopped into small pieces and dumped into a big hole paved with plastic tarpaulin to avoid the direct contact with soil and water. Then the bio-product was mixed with the organic matter. One kilo of bio-product could make 3-4 tons of compost. After one month the compost could be ready for use. The compost not only helped the plants grow stronger but also helped farmers reduce fertilizer use by 30-40% every year.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

The compost not only helped the plants grow stronger but also helped farmers reduce fertilizer use by 30-40% every year. Photo: Tran Trung.

According to Long An’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the province had 2,100 hectares of dragon fruit applying high technologies in farming. The local competent agencies have designed a pilot model of hi-tech dragon fruit cultivation on 842 hectares to meet the standards of VietGAP and GlobalGAP.

“These models have helped local farmers gradually get acquainted with applying of organic fertilizers, bio-fertilizers and bio-products in dragon fruit cultivation. The approach can not only boost the activity of the roots but also create a habit of recording daily farming activities in accordance with VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards. In which making compost from the cut dragon fruit stems is a good model that should be multiplied,” said Nguyen Chi Thien, Deputy Director of Long An’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

As we know, humic acid is good for dragon fruit with humic acid fertilizer. So how good is humic acid fertilizer? How can it be better? It is shown that the application of humic acid fertilizer and organic-inorganic compound fertilizer is compared with the application of chemical fertilizer: the yield of general field grain and oil crops increases by about 8% to 20%, and the yield of fruits, vegetables, and cash crops increases by about 15% to 35%. Humic acid fertilizer is called 4 aspects in the industry due to its special effects: slow-release agent of nitrogen fertilizer, synergist of phosphate fertilizer, protective agent of potash fertilizer, and chelating agent of middle and trace elements.

The role of organic fertilizer humic acid is divided into three aspects: physical, chemical and biological:

1. the physical function is mainly manifested in: improving soil structure. Prevent soil cracking and erosion. Increase soil water holding capacity and improve crop resistance to cold. Darken the color of the soil to help absorb solar energy.

2. the chemical action is mainly manifested in: adjusting soil pH. Improve and optimize the absorption of nutrients and water by plants. Increase soil buffer capacity.

Under alkaline conditions, humic fulvic acid is a natural chelating agent (chelates with metal ions to promote its absorption by plants). Rich in organic matter and minerals necessary for plant growth.

Improve the solubility of organic fertilizers and reduce the loss of fertilizers. The nutrients are transformed into a state that can be easily absorbed by plants. strengthen the absorption of nitrogen by plants, reduce the fixation of phosphorus, protect the elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium deep in the soil, store them in the soil, and accelerate the process of nutrient elements entering the plant body, and improve the application effect of inorganic fertilizers.

3. the biological effects are mainly manifested in: stimulating the growth and reproduction of beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Improve the ability of plants to resist natural diseases and pests.

Planting

Grow Dragon Fruit from a cutting is simple and easy. Each cutting is labeled near the bottom and this is the end that is placed into the soil. Cuttings should be planted about one inch below the soil level. This will give the cutting time to establish a root system and adapt to your soil conditions. Once you get new growth on your cutting, check to see if it has established roots. If so, it can be transplanted to a bigger pot or permanent location. You can grow your cuttings in a variety of ways. For small container locations, I would recommend hanging baskets or a 5-gallon container with a tomato cage as support. For larger plants, I recommend a 25-gallon container. These are movable but they a heavy and could grow unstable if not properly pruned. Click here to see our YouTube video on how we build our Dragon Fruit container.

Soil

For soil, I recommend using a good composting manured. We also topdress every spring and do not use any fertilizer. Dragon Fruit loves compost, but be careful some homemade or store-bought compost can burn the plant. For this reason, I would cut the compost with the organic matter until you find the correct mix. Adding perlite to the mix will help with drainage.

Sun

Dragon Fruit needs full sun when growing. This is also critical for fruiting, however, you will need to give your starter cutting a break with some shade in the early months of planting. Once mature, when the plant turns a light lime green to almost yellow, it is perfect. If it gets too yellow, it will sunburn. If this happens, simply move the plant or use a shade cloth during these months.

Water

This is dependent on the area you live in. We have lots of hot, humid, and rainy weather. For this reason, we do not water January – April. The rest of the year, we only water during dry periods which maybe only be once or twice a year.

Pruning

Pruning is required to maintain the shape and size of the plant. This enables access to fruits which aides in harvesting. Depending on your growing system, different pruning techniques are required.

Most people believe growing dragon fruit isn’t that hard, well maybe not. Although growing them to get the best out of the plant as we do, is a little more involved.

Growing from a cutting is far quicker than from a seed. We have had cuttings produce fruit in 8 months and good volumes of fruit in 18 months, which was the following season.

Directions for best results growing dragon fruit

First choose a good looking, healthy cutting of about 30 cm plus in length. Let the cut end of the cutting dry for about 4-5 days to help prevent rot and infection.

After drying, place the cutting into a pot of quality potting mix (arrow facing down as we mark them). Water the cutting into the potting mix. Place pot in a cool shaded area or green house. Water lightly around once a week. DO NOT over water as cuttings will rot and die.

Once the cutting is well rooted (4-6 weeks in warmer months) it can then be planted out in a sunny location. Dragon fruit can be planted on some form of trellis, post or fence. We grow our plants on cement post 2.2 meters in length, 700mm in the ground and 1500 out with a mesh topper of 800mm x 1000mm tied in place to secure. Plant to 1500mm out of the ground for ease of fruit picking. We do not recommend treated post due to the chemicals use in their treatment. Hardwood post are ok with some sort of top frame as a trellis system.

Plant cuttings two to four per post, depending on post diameter. Water plants into the ground. Fertilize with organic fertilizer e.g. chicken pallets, or other manures, seasol in the growing/fruiting season. Water once a week in hotter months depending on rain fall and once every 2-3 weeks in winter/cooler months. Do Not over water as plants will rot.

Train plants by tying to the post or trellis. Only allow 2-3 shuts from each plant to grow to top of trellis to limit clutter on the post. This also allows early detection of pest and disease.

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There are a few plants which can be grown both for food and as an ornamental, and dragon fruit is definitely one of them. Dragon fruit plants (also called pitaya/pithaya) are long, gangly cactuses which sprout large, colorful fruits reminiscent of dragon skin. They are native to Central America but nowadays they are widely grown in Southeast Asia.

Growing dragon fruit at home can be immensely satisfying, but like all cactuses, they can be picky about their growing conditions, such as temperature, water, and growing medium.

The best soil for dragon fruit is one that is well-draining and rich in nutrients, ideally with a good amount of loamy sand, and organic matter for some water and nutrient retention.

Dragon fruit is a cactus, and like all succulents, it absolutely does not like “wet feet” and will suffer in soggy, wet soils. However, very sandy soils dry out too quickly and also can’t hold onto nutrients well. Growing dragon fruit in very sandy soil will require more frequent watering and fertilizing.

Dragon fruit grow best in neutral or slightly soil, with a pH of 6 to 7 being optimal.

While dragon fuit can tolerate a variety of pH levels, anything too acidic or too alkaline will reduce the availability of nutrients in the soil. For example, trace metals like iron and zinc are absorbed better with a lower pH, while calcium and magnesium are absorbed better at a higher pH, but the key macronutrient phosphorus is absorbed best between a pH of 6 and 6.5.

Dragon fruit can grow in clay soil, but will grow more poorly than in sandy or loamy soil.

The reason is because clay soil is very heavy and holds onto water too much. The roots of your dragon fruit can easily become waterlogged and drown in clay soil.

That said, small amounts of clay are beneficial because clay is rich in minerals and other micronutrients.

Dragon fruit normally needs soil to grow but can be grown hydroponically without soil.

Dragon fruit grown hydroponically requires a large system since dragon fruit plants can grow up to 20 feet tall. Maximum Yield goes into much more detail about how to grow dragon fruit in a hydroponic system.

To make your own soil for dragon fruit plants, there are several directions you can take. You can use regular succulent potting mix, but since fruiting requires more nutrients than vegetative growth, you will need to add more rich organic matter. Here are a few basic homemade dragon fruit soil mix recipes:

Sandy Soil Mix

    • 4 parts high quality potting soil, such as FoxFarm Ocean Forest or Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix
    • 2 parts coarse sand
    • 1 part perlite

Non-Sandy Soil Mix

    • 2 parts high quality potting soil
    • 1 part perlite

In addition, you can avoid adding extra sand and perlite, but you will still have to go with something well-draining. Richard at Grafting Dragon Fruit uses only potting mix, chicken manure, and worm castings.

During vegetative growth, dragon fruit plants have relatively shallow roots reaching 8 to 12 inches. However, when they begin flowering and fruiting, dragon fruit roots will extend as much as 24 inches into the soil.

Because of this, when you are filling your dragon fruit containers with soil, you should use containers at least 2 feet deep. Around 20 gallons is often recommended for full-sized plants.

Are you a gardener who wants to know more about how to plant dragon fruit due to its delicious taste and gorgeous look?

Dragon fruit is one of the best Thai fruits that is strange looking. Cut it open and get a juicy pinky-red skin that reveals the white or pink flesh speckled with tiny little black seeds. It grows on cacti, a sort of cactus fruit, and resembles a dragon egg thus the name dragon fruit.

The taste is diverse depending on different taste buds. Some say it tastes like kiwi fruit, pear, strawberry, or watermelon. Others describe it as savory or sweet. Did you know that the growing conditions and ripeness can impact the taste of this fruit? It is packed with Vitamin C, the more reason why most people consume it.

The Cacti has adorable flowers that are about 20 cm wide appearing in the summer season. They are brightly colored yellow-green on the outside and white on the inside. These flowers open in the evening and last only one night.

Table of Contents

Types of Dragon Fruit

The term dragon fruit refers to several types of cacti that produce edible fruits. The common types are:

  • Red fleshed fruit also known as Hylocereus costaricensis
  • White fleshed fruit also known as Hylocereus undatus
  • Yellow skin and white flesh is also known as Hylocereus Megalanthus

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Step by Step on How to Plant Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruits are native to Central and Southern America as well as Mexico. It thrives in mild winters with no frost. But can tolerate occasional cold weather above 10 degrees. They are able to handle the heat, humidity, drought, and poor soils. They grow tastier with regular watering and rich soil.

The cacti plants grow both in the garden and in a large pot. Be sure to plant against a thick stick or some support. This allows you to tie the stems to the support to encourage straight vertical growth.

Propagation of the Dragon Fruits

Dragon fruit grows from cuttings or seed. To grow from seed, squash the flesh onto a paper towel and keep it in a moist warm area. Do not expose them to direct sunlight. These seeds will sprout within 2-3 weeks and can be potted into punnets for proper growth.

Water the seedlings weekly to develop strong seedlings. Once the seedlings grow some more, pot them in individual pots that are large enough. These seedlings take several years to reach fruiting age.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

To use the cutting. Break off a segment of about 30-50 cm long and leave it in a dry shady spot for one week. This allows the cut end to seal in order to prevent rotting. At the end of the week, plant the cuttings in a pot and keep them in a bright shady area. Allow the roots to develop before moving them into the sun. During this time, do not overwater the cuttings, it can make them rot and die. It is best to do the cuttings during warmer months.

Step by Step Planting Guide

  • Planting Spot. Choose a spot that attracts a good amount of sun. Dragon fruit thrives in good sunlight.
  • Soil. Boost the soil with compost manure or organic fertilizer. You may add lime to the soil to bring it to the right pH level. The soil must be well-drained because this fruit plant rots easily.
  • Add Fertilizers. Every 2 – 3 weeks apply organic fertilizer as a foliar spray or mixed with water put it around the plant. Each spring, reapply and replenish the compost manure. Be sure to keep checking the staking to ensure the plant is properly supported. From time to time, remove some of the longer shoots to keep it under control allowing space for new growth to flourish. Less congestion tends to lead to bigger fruit.
  • Mulching. Once you plant, mulch them to protect their shallow roots from drying. Water them each week to encourage new root formation.
  • Trimming. If left on their own, dragon fruit becomes too messy. A bit of trimming is in order to eliminate any side shoots. Once the stems reach the desired height, trim off their ends to encourage new shoots. These trimmed branches can be allowed to spread out and hang downwards.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to plant dragon fruit and the step by step process you ought to follow, its time to try growing your own. You will not regret this journey even as you learn in the process of growing it. On harvesting this delicious fruit, you will forget the tedious journey and enjoy the produce!

Are dragon fruit plants easy to grow?

Growing dragon fruit plants is not as hard as it may seem. You just need to know the right conditions and techniques.

Dragon fruit plants are also known as pitaya or strawberry pear. They can be found in tropical Central and South America.

Dragon fruit plants are easy to grow and are very high-yielding. You need to provide high levels of nutrients for them to grow well, but the rewards will be worth it. This plant has been a favorite among home gardeners. These plants are easy to grow, require less attention, and produce edible fruits that taste great in salads or desserts. They also provide antioxidants and dietary fiber.

Dragon fruit plants are easy to grow as well as maintain because they don’t need much water or care. They can survive on minimal amounts of fertilizer meaning you don’t have to worry about overfertilizing your foliage or flowers which can cause issues with blooming or fruiting later on in the season.

Dragon fruit plants will typically grow up to 2 feet high with a spread of 3 feet wide.

Can dragon fruit be grown in pots?

Dragonfruit is an exotic fruit that is difficult to grow outside its natural environment. It would seem that you could grow dragon fruits anywhere, but you might be disappointed if you try to do it outside.

They require high temperatures and humidity levels to thrive, so they cannot be grown indoors or as potted plants. They also need a lot of space and soil that can provide enough nutrients for its large leaves and roots.

Dragon fruit can be grown in pots if they are planted in a location that receives ample sunlight and water and have enough soil with drainage. It is a tropical plant that needs the sun to grow and has to have at least one other plant nearby.

How do you grow a dragon fruit plant?

Dragon fruit plants are true veggies, meaning they must be grown in warm, frost-free climates. They require more water than other fruits and vegetables, so if you live in an area with colder winters or high humidity, this type of plant may not be for you.

Grow dragon fruit plants indoors in pots or containers with high drainage. Use a potting mix with peat moss, sand, perlite, vermiculite, composted leaves or composted newspaper.

They need a lot of water and sunlight. However, they will increase their size and grow healthier if you provide them with these necessities. They prefer temperatures between 80 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit. They grow well indoors, as long as they have enough light and warmth.

You do need to be careful with the drying effects of heat as they also like it when their roots are kept moist.

Cow Head N01: Specialized Bio-Organic Fertilizer For Dragon Fruit

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Specialized Organic Fish Meal Fertilizer For Dragon Fruit: Demax N03

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Cow Head N01: Specialized Bio-Organic Fertilizer For Dragon Fruit

  • N: 2.5%, P2O5: 2.5%, K2O: 2.5%
  • Organic matter : 20%, Chitin: 2%, CaO: 0.5%.
  • Neutrals versus Micronutrients: Mg: 0.2%, S: 0.3%, Cu: 0.01%, Fe: 0.01%, Zn: 0.01%, Mn: 0.01%, B: 0.001%, Mo: 0.01%.
  • Humidity ≤ 30%.
  • Description
  • Additional information

Cow Head N01: Specialized Bio-Organic Fertilizer For Dragon Fruit

Benefit

  • Provide essential nutrients for plant growth; improve soil structure; retain water against drought weather; prevent Root Knot Nematode.
  • Helps to remain dragon fruit freshness, long-green- smooth stems, branches firmness, better absorbion of trace elements; give high quality standard to meet the demands of exportation and reduce the use of compound fertilizer.
  • Increase Dragon Fruit yield.

K2O: 2.5%, N: 2.5%, Neutral and Micronutrients: Cao: 0.5%, Mg: 0.2%, S: 0.3%, Cu: 0.01%, Fe: 0.01%, Zn: 0.01%, Mn: 0.01%, B: 0.001%, Mo: 0.01%, Moisture ≤ 30%, Organic matter: 20%, P2O5: 2.5%

Learn how to grow dragon fruit, the most strange looking subtropical fruits to grow in your garden. Growing dragon fruit is fairly easy, both outdoors or in the pot.

USDA Zones–9 to 11

Propagation Method — Seeds, vegetative propagation

Difficulty — Moderate

Soil pH — 6 to 7

Other names — Indonesia buah naga, Khmer sror kaa neak, Thai kaeo mangkon, nanettika fruit, Kaktus madu, Long guo, Cereus triangularis, Thanh long, Strawberry Pear, Cactus fruit, Night blooming Cereus, Belle of the Night, Jesus in the Cradle.

Dragon Fruit Information

Dragon fruit, also known as pitahaya or pitaya, belongs to the cactus family. It’s a climbing cactus and needs support for growing. The flowers are unique, and one among the largest in the world with a diameter of 25 cm and is about 30 cm long. One more feature of its bloom is: it only opens for one night and exudes an inviting fruity fragrance.

Learn about the most aromatic flowers in the world here

Growing Regions

Dragon fruit is native to Central America and grown throughout the subtropical and tropical parts of China, Israel, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Nicaragua.

Dragon Fruit Propagation

Growing Dragon Fruit from Seeds

  • With a knife, divide dragon fruit in half and scoop out the black seeds from the pulp. Wash the pulp off the seeds. Put these seeds on a moist paper towel and leave them overnight.
  • Fill the germinating tray or small pot with well-draining but poor starting mix. You can make it yourself by mixing one part peat and one part perlite. Sprinkle the seed on the soil surface and cover that with a thin layer of growing medium that barely covers the seeds.
  • Thoroughly moisten the soil using a sprayer and cover the pot with plastic wrap. Keep the soil moist until seeds germinate, which will take around 15 to 30 days.
  • After the seeds germinate, uncover the plastic and transplant them to bigger pots when necessary.

Growing Dragon Fruit in Pots

How to fertilize dragon fruit

If you’re living in a cool climate or if you’re an urban gardener and don’t have much space, grow dragon fruit in a pot, it’s fairly easy to grow and adapts itself well in containers. In the pot, you can move and overwinter it to save from frost as pitaya plant can survive a very short duration of freezing temperature (below 28 F is detrimental) and frost.

Choosing a Pot

Select a pot according to the size of the root ball of your plant, one or two sizes bigger. Start the plant in a 5-gallon, 10-12 inches deep container and keep repotting yearly or when the plant seems root-bound. A large 25-30 gallon size pot that is around 20-24 is enough to accommodate a mature dragon fruit tree. Be extra careful while repotting if you’re a novice.

Requirements for Growing Dragon Fruit

Location

Dragon fruit is a cactus, which means it loves heat and sun. It’s better to plant it in a spot that is dry and sunny. If you live in a hot climate, it’s best to choose a location that remains partially shaded.

Support

Dragon fruit plant is actually a climbing cactus and needs support to climb on, usually, as the plant becomes mature, it forms aerial roots from the branches and finds something to climb. So, it’s best if you’re growing dragonfruit, find something to support your plant. Attach a sturdy trellis or make an arbor.

For growing dragonfruit, opt for well-draining soil that is sandy and loamy. A mixture of sand in garden soil would be appropriate. It is forgiving to poor soil.

Water

Since the dragon fruit is a cactus, water it moderately with care like you do with other succulents. Water only when the soil dries out.

Temperature

Dragon fruit can’t live in cool temperatures. Exposure to a temperature below 32 F (0 C) is fatal. Similarly, the temperature above 100 F (38 C) causes difficulty. In a cool climate, keep the plant in temperature above 50 F (10 C). In a hot climate, save the plant from the afternoon sun in summers and place it in a partially shaded spot.

Dragon Fruit Care

Fertilizer for Dragon Fruit

Fertilize dragon fruit with a balanced fertilizer every month when the plant is actively growing in its growing season. Stop fertilizing in winter if you’re growing it in a cool climate. Side dressing with aged manure or compost can also be done occasionally.

Dragon Fruit Pruning

Pruning is required to train this plant on the trellis, improve air circulation, and prevent fungal infection and maintain its height. Otherwise, it can grow up to 20 feet tall in the optimum growing conditions. Prune it annually by removing all the overgrowing, decaying, overcrowding, and dead stems saving only the healthier and productive ones. Check out this pruning guide to learn more!

Note: Must care to disinfect your pruning tool before the job.

Pests and Diseases

There are particularly no pests that nag the plant seriously. Although keep an eye on aphids, they feed on young shoots and flower buds. Fungal diseases and root and fruit rot are possible if the plant is overwatered or exposed to too much rain.

Dragon Fruit Pollination

Many dragon fruit varieties are self-pollinating, but some require cross-pollination. If your dragon fruit is unable to self-pollinate, you’ll need to grow two or more dragon fruit plants carefully for cross-pollination. As dragon fruit flowers are nocturnal, its pollination depends on moths and bats. For assurance, you can also do this at night.

Dragon fruits: A beginner’s guide

Published October 23, 2021, 10:01 AM

Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus), also referred to as pitaya or pitahaya, is a tropical fruit that belongs to the cactus family. It is popular for its oblong fruits that come in colors red, yellow, or pink.

Aside from its unique appearance, it is also packed with health benefits and can boost one’s immunity and improve cardiovascular health.

In San Vicente, Camarines Norte, approximately 400 dragon fruit trees are grown in a 1000 sqm growing space called Elnino Garden.

Its proprietor, Eduardo “Daboy” Odi, initially grew ornamentals to help him overcome grief after losing a loved one.

The garden that was once a small plant collection evolved into a venue for food production and more decorative plant varieties.

Out of all the burgeoning plants on the premises, Odi chose dragon fruit as his main crop.

Based on his experience, these are basic requirements when growing this type of fruit:

Cuttings. The success lies not just in the soil but also in the materials to be used in planting.

Elnino Garden uses 10 to 12 inches of healthy cuttings that come from a known source. This allows the gardener to protect his garden from any threats that may come from disease-infected cuttings.

Pruning. Damaged and diseased stems, as well as those that block the light from penetrating into plants, should be pruned.

This aids in managing diseases well and helps in the production of flowers and the growth of stems and branches.

Sunlight. Dragon fruits prefer to be grown in open areas with direct exposure to sunlight and minimal shade. Receiving ample amounts of sunlight helps them grow and produce fruits well.

Watering. Dragon fruit trees are watered at least once a week. Watering them is normally skipped during the rainy season.

It should not be carried out above the tree to prevent the spread of diseases and produce quality fruits, says Odi. Based on his experience, drip irrigation works best.

Well-drained soil with organic compost. Quality soil is an integral part of dragon fruit cultivation.

Elnino Garden ensures the use of organic fertilizer and composts before and during planting to help with plant growth.

Odi highly recommends planting dragon fruits in sandy loam soil with high organic content and a pH level between 5.5 to 6.5.

Soil testing is also a must. This can be processed through the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

While dragon fruit may look a little strange, it tastes great in tropical fruit salads, is brimming with wonderful nutrients and is easy to grow in most regions of Australia – provided you plant it in a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Dragon fruit plants – also known by the names pitaya, strawberry pear, cactus fruit, Kaktus madu, Night-blooming cereus and Belle of the night – are a type of cactus indigenous to South America. Here’s everything you need to know about growing dragon fruit at home.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

What is dragon fruit?

Once you get past the unusual appearance of dragon fruit, you’ll find that it’s actually pretty similar to other tropical fruits. In fact, if you know how to eat a kiwi fruit, you know how to eat dragon fruit.

Dragon fruit is a white-fleshed fruit with tiny black seeds and vibrant pink skin. Each fruit weighs between 150-600g and is commonly used in fruit salads, smoothies and salads. It has little flavour and its texture closely resembles that of kiwi fruit. To prepare all you to do is to cut the fruit in half and then scoop out the flesh.

Varieties

There are a couple of different types of dragon fruit the most common varieties are:

  • Hylocereus undatus: white flesh with pink/red skin (most popular in Australia)
  • Hylocereus Megalanthus: white flesh with yellow skin
  • Hylocereus costaricensis: purple/red flesh and pink/red skin

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Climate & Aspect

As mentioned above, dragon fruit is native to South America, but you’ll also found it grown in parts of Indonesia, Taiwan, Southern California and most recently Australia. Dragon fruit grows on cactus plants which love warm, humid climates and needs very little water. They are subtropical plants which need at least six hours of sunlight per day. They will also grow well in a warm and sunny spot indoors.

How to grow dragon fruit from seed

To grow dragon fruit from seeds you need very little equipment but a lot of time. Grab an organic dragon fruit from your local supermarket and scoop out the seeds.

Wash the seeds and dry them overnight before planting them in a seed-starting tray with moist soil. T he seeds should germinate within two weeks.

Water seedlings sparingly and check that the soil has completely dried out before watering again.

Don’t expect to have a healthy harvest of dragon fruit right away – it can take anywhere from five to seven years for a plant grown from seed to mature and produce fruit. This is why many dragon fruit growers like to grow dragon fruit from a cutting (which will take just one to three years to fruit).

How to fertilize dragon fruit

How to plant dragon fruit cuttings

Propagating a dragon fruit tree from a cutting is relatively easy, all you need to do is find a friend with a tree and you’re good to go. Snip off a 30cm section of a dragon fruit tree and leave it to dry out for 5-6 days or until the cut end turns white.

Once it has dried out simply place cut side down into sandy cacti soil and water monthly. Your plant will send out roots and make itself at home within a month and then continue to grow. Easy peasy!

You’ll need to wait between one and three years for fruit using this method.

Growing dragon fruit in pots

Growing dragon fruit in pots is a great idea, especially for those who live in cooler parts of Australia, as you can move your plant to a warmer position whenever necessary. In the right conditions, dragon fruit plants grow can grow quite tall and will put down aerial roots. When choosing a pot, look for one that is about 250mm deep and 600mm wide. Fill it with good quality cacti potting soil that is a bit sandy and slightly acidic.

Dragon fruit plants are climbers so support them with a stake, trellis or something else to climb on.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Growing dragon fruit outdoors

Growing dragon fruit outdoors in your garden is a great way to add colour and personality to your garden. To prepare, remove weeds in the area as well as any rocks and make sure that the soil is slightly sandy and acidic. You can always add a bit of extra potting mix to the bed to help make it cacti-proof.

As your dragon fruit plant grows invest in a trellis or plant it near a fence something that it can climb on, just be wary they are heavy plants so it needs to be able to support the dragon fruit plants weight when it is bearing fruit too.

How to harvest dragon fruit

You’ll know that fruit is on its way when the plant begins to flower. Once fruit starts to appear, it will take around four weeks to ripen. You’ll know the fruit is ripe when the skin turns a vibrant shade of pink. Use a pair of sharp secateurs to cut the fruit off and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.

If you’re growing an uncommon variety like H. megalanthus , the fruit’s skin will turn yellow when ripe.

Like strawberries, Pitaya doesn’t continue to ripen after harvest so make sure that it has fully ripened before picking. The fruit can last for around two weeks as long as you keep it inside a cold container with a temperature between 7 – 10 °C.

How to fertilize dragon fruit

Caring for dragon fruit plants

Pests

Generally speaking, dragon fruit plants are not prone to pests, but when their prized fruit starts to appear, you will need to protect the plant from hungry bats and birds. Use bird netting to keep your fruit safe.

Dragon spots

If you notice spots on the stems and leaves of the plant this could be a sign of infection. Dragon fruit is prone to a bacterial infection which causes the stem to rot. If you notice spots don’t worry in most cases the dragon fruit plant will fight it off themselves.

Pruning

If your dragon fruit plant is getting a bit out of control, cut it back in the summer months. Watch for signs of rot on your dragon fruit plant caused by extreme weather conditions. Rotting parts of the plant can be clipped away safely using sharp clippers.

Watering

One of the easiest ways to kill dragon fruit plants is by over-watering it. Make sure that the soil is never sopping wet and, if in doubt, hold off on watering for a day or two. If you water the plant too often, you could cause the roots to rot.

Fertilising

The plant’s natural habitat is full of nutrients, so it needs the extra boost from the fertiliser to thrive in your garden.

Supporting dragon fruit plants

As a climbing plant, you’ll also need to provide it with some kind of support. A trellis is ideal, but you can also use a wall or a wooden post if you’re short on time or resources. Just make sure the wood you’re using isn’t treated timber.

angesradieux

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Chuck

  • Sep 3, 2019
  • #2
  • angesradieux

    • Sep 3, 2019
  • #3
  • They will be in containers. I’m in zone 7, so they’ll have to come inside in the winter. I do also use a dry fertilizer for my citrus, but my meyer lemon at least seems much happier when I supplement with liquid fertilizers as well. So far my kishu isn’t as vigorous a grower and would probably be fine with just the dry fertilizer, but I still use some of the liquid stuff just to be sure it’s getting enough nutrients.

    The dry fertilizer I’ve been using is citrus tone. I also have holy tone that I use for my blueberries. Will one of these work for dragon fruit or is there something else you would recommend?

    Chuck

    • Sep 3, 2019
  • #4
  • They will be in containers. I’m in zone 7, so they’ll have to come inside in the winter. I do also use a dry fertilizer for my citrus, but my meyer lemon at least seems much happier when I supplement with liquid fertilizers as well. So far my kishu isn’t as vigorous a grower and would probably be fine with just the dry fertilizer, but I still use some of the liquid stuff just to be sure it’s getting enough nutrients.

    The dry fertilizer I’ve been using is citrus tone. I also have holy tone that I use for my blueberries. Will one of these work for dragon fruit or is there something else you would recommend?

    angesradieux

    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #5
  • I use Miracle Gro moisture control potting mix. For my blueberries, I mix it with peat moss, but for all my other plants I’ve had good results without adding much more than fertilizer. If the holy tone might be a bit too much, I’ll probably start with giving it some citrus tone, seeing how it does, and adjusting accordingly if it seems to have problems.

    Do you think I should consider trying a different potting soil? The miracle gro seems to work well for my other plants, but I’ve never tried growing a cactus before.

    Chuck

    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #6
  • I use Miracle Gro moisture control potting mix. For my blueberries, I mix it with peat moss, but for all my other plants I’ve had good results without adding much more than fertilizer. If the holy tone might be a bit too much, I’ll probably start with giving it some citrus tone, seeing how it does, and adjusting accordingly if it seems to have problems.

    Do you think I should consider trying a different potting soil? The miracle gro seems to work well for my other plants, but I’ve never tried growing a cactus before.

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    angesradieux

    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #7
  • Okay. Is there a different soil you would recommend?

    Thanks for answering all my dumb questions, btw! I appreciate the help.

    Chuck

    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #8
  • Okay. Is there a different soil you would recommend?

    Thanks for answering all my dumb questions, btw! I appreciate the help.

    Chuck

    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #9
  • angesradieux

    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #10
  • Chuck

    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #11
  • How to fertilize dragon fruit

    Pruning Dragon Fruit

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    MaryMary

    Quite Contrary
    • Sep 4, 2019
  • #12
  • @CrazyConure ordered Dragon fruit cuttings by mail, and posted threads about it, maybe reading through some of his threads might help!

    Search results for query: Dragon fruit

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    angesradieux

    • Sep 18, 2019
  • #13
  • Thanks for the links. I’m starting to get the feeling I may not be meant to have dragon fruit. First the seller sent me the wrong plant entirely, and then I received my cuttings, but they had no roots, even though the seller promised rooted cuttings. One looks like it might be okay, but then other seems like it probably won’t make it.

    I’m going to try again ordering from another seller. I also ordered some rooting hormone to try to save my cutting that is stubbornly refusing to root, but I’m not optimistic. Hopefully this other seller sends the correct plants and they do better. At least this time I’ll be prepared and have rooting hormone on hand if these come without roots, too. And maybe it’s better. This other seller had more varieties, so I ordered sugar dragon and purple haze cuttings, so if these do well I’ll get to try a few different types.

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