Dragon Fruit, named after its scaly appearance, is a delicious and exotic-looking fruit that grows on Pitahaya, a family of cactus. Pitahaya, or the Dragon Fruit plant, is known worldwide for its unique appearance inside and out. Its outer form resembles the scales of a dragon, while the interior takes the form of an off-colored kiwi. Dragon Fruit plants can come in various shapes and colors but are easily identifiable via the tall, thick branches with brightly colored fruit.
Here’s everything you need to know to grow your Dragon Fruit at home!
What is the Scientific Name?
Dragon Fruit cactus has many common names, such as Strawberry Pear, the Night Blooming Cereus, or Belle of the Night. Originally from Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America, the Dragon Fruit tree has made waves recently in the United States for its colorful look and sweet taste.
What Types of Dragon Fruit Plants Are There?
- Pitaya Amarilla (Hylocereus megalanthus): This is the most visually different plant of the bunch, with bright yellow skin and translucent-white flesh on the inside. Purportedly, this variation is least likely to be grown at home owing to its thicker and thornier shell. However, with this trait comes more flavor than you will find in the following two varieties.
- Pitaya Blanca (Hylocereus undatus): The type of Dragon Fruit you are more likely to find at the supermarket. It boasts a beautiful red skin with white flesh, much like the last variation contained. Don’t let the similarity in color fool you. Pitaya Blanca is commonly said to be sweeter than Pitaya Amarilla, making it more accessible to consumers.
- Pitaya Roja (Hylocereus costaricensis): Easily the most well-known Dragon Fruit, Pitaya Roja is known for its red shell and dark-purple flesh. The deep coloration of the flesh is often a dark sanguine, inviting comparison to blood. It is said that the more profound the complexion, the sweeter and juicier the fruit, making this variety familiar for home gardens.
What Soil Works Best for a Dragon Fruit?
Like other cacti, Pitaya plants perform best in cactus or sandy soil. However, Dragon Fruit Plants must grow in well-draining soil, so you can do fine without the sandy soil, though it is the best of the best. If you don’t use sandy soil, remember that Pitaya prefers slightly acidic (pH 6-7) soil.
How Much Sunlight Does a Dragon Fruit Need?
While one study shows that Dragon Fruit plants can benefit from the shade, total sun exposure will provide the most fruit. Therefore, you should give the tips of the plant as much light as possible to ensure the plant blooms properly. There is no upper limit for daylight, so feel free to plant it outside or in a sunny spot next to a window.
What Temperature Works Best for a Dragon Fruit?
Dragon Fruit plants can only withstand freezing temperatures for short durations. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you give proper care to your plant by keeping it in an environment between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature reaches over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant might wilt, so be careful about that.
Do Dragon Fruit Plants Enjoy Humidity?
The dragon fruit plant does best in 40-50% humidity levels. However, be watchful that the plant doesn’t start developing fungus if you leave it in a high humidity area for too long. For example, leaving a humidifier next to this plant for a long time can cause that fungus to develop on the leaves.
How Often Should You Water a Dragon Fruit?
Being a cactus, it should come as no surprise that Pitaya plants do not require the abundance of water you might be used to giving other plants in your garden. However, it will require more hydration than the average succulent. You should provide deep watering once a week for grounded plants during the warm seasons. In the winter, decrease that to once every ten days.
When Does a Dragon Plant Bear Fruit?
It can be about five years before you see it produce a single fruit. Once maturity is reached, however, the plants will produce fruit every 12-18 months, providing an impressive 20-60lbs of fruit per plant!
What Size Does a Dragon Fruit Plant Grow to Typically?
A Dragon Fruit plant’s mature height will be between 5-10 feet.
Most Common Bugs
Some of the most common bugs that will threaten your plant are mealybugs, aphids, mites, thrips, and ants that will all eat your plant.
Most Common Diseases
Fungus growing on the leaves if the plant is left in an area with lots of humidity is common. Root rot is another well-known disease if the soil does not properly dry out for this plant. Remember, it is best to keep the plant dry to combat these diseases.
Can Dragon Fruit Be Grown in Pots?
Of course! Look for a larger pot, about 10-15 gallons, one foot deep by two feet wide, at minimum. Just like with your soil, make sure that this pot is well-draining to avoid root rot.
Another good idea is to set up a trellis for each plant; anything from a wooden fence to a concrete post will aid in the growth of your Pitaya plant. This support system will help the Pitaya plant’s continual growth and development.
Remember that potted plants will require water less frequently than grounded plants, as overwatering can be a huge issue. You can expect to water your Pitaya plant 2-3 times per week during the warm seasons and just once a week for winter.
Like many other cactus plants, Dragon Fruit grows in hotter climates. Fairing best in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, you will want to bring the potted plant inside when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can You Propagate a Dragon Fruit Plant?
Cutting has proven to be a highly effective propagation method for the Pitaya plant. Make sure to be using cuttings 12-18 inches in length from mature wood. If you don’t plan to root the cuttings, you should feel free to go for longer cuttings. This method drastically cuts your waiting time down, with Dragon Fruit cuttings producing fruit just a year after the transplant.
Conclusion – How to Take Care of a Dragon Fruit Plant
Dragon Fruit Plants are a simple way to improve the look of your garden or collection of houseplants. To successfully take care of a Dragon Fruit plant, monitor its water intake, provide it with as much sunlight as possible, and use the right soil/pot combination.
The fruit they produce has many uses, from desserts like smoothies and sorbets to being the exotic centerpiece to your collection of tropical plants. So, consider adding a Dragon Fruit plant to your garden!