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Planting and caring for dragon fruit: tips and instructions for growing the exotic cactus plant pitahaya.

Are you looking for a truly amazing plant to be the centerpiece of your garden? Then look no further! You can plant dragon fruit! Also known as pitaya, pitahaya, strawberry pear, night-blooming cereus, the beauty of the night, and even cactus fruit, dragon fruit is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America, and most importantly, it is one of the fruits grown directly from special species of cacti.

What is dragon fruit

Unpeeled dragon fruit will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator

Dragon fruit is known for its deep pink and leathery skin, it is unusual, nutritious and eye-catching, with sweet juice inside that highlights the bright white flesh and tiny black seeds. The plant is a large, climbing cactus plant that forms tall, thick, succulent-like branches and produces bright red or yellow fruits that are dense, juicy and sweet – ideal for eating raw, chopping up for salads or blending for smoothies or ice cream. As if all that weren’t enough, cacti also produce some of the largest flowers in the world, often referred to as “night-blooming cereas.” They bloom for just one night as beautiful white flowers and fill the air with a unique tropical fragrance.

Plant dragon fruit from seed

Planting dragon fruit from seed is easy and the cactus is easy to care for

You can plant dragon fruit by buying a dragon fruit in the supermarket and planting the seeds. Note, however, that it can take several years (sometimes up to five) for a plant from seed to bear fruit. Prepare the soil bed. Cacti need full sun. Therefore, choose a sunny spot in your garden or a sunny windowsill that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Choose potting soil that is well-drained (plants are sensitive to “wet feet” or constantly wet roots) and rich in organic matter.

Dragon fruit likes more water than other cacti

Do not use cactus soil – as tropical plants, dragon fruit like more water than other cacti and need a soil that retains moisture a little better. Prepare the seeds. Cut a ripe plant in half and lift out the black seeds. Wash the pulp off the seeds and place the seeds on a damp paper towel for at least twelve hours. Plant the seeds. Sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface and cover them with a thin layer of soil. It’s okay if it barely covers the seeds – they don’t need to be planted deep.

Watering the plants

Water or spray the plants regularly and keep them evenly moist

Water or spray the soil bed regularly and keep it evenly moist. If your soil tends to dry out, cover the soil bed with plastic wrap to retain moisture until the seeds germinate.

Thin out and transplant

You can buy a dragon fruit at the supermarket and plant the seeds

As your seedlings continue to grow, thin them out to give each new plant room. If you are growing them indoors, transplant them into larger pots. A mature dragon fruit needs at least one pot at least 50 inches wide for optimal health.

Support the cactus plants

Once your dragon fruit plant is twelve inches tall, it needs a support system

Once your plant is twelve inches tall, it will need a support system to continue growing. Set up a trellis or wooden stake for the plant to grow up.

Grow the cactus from cuttings

Cut a twelve-inch branch from an established plant

You can simply plant dragon fruit from a cutting of a mature plant. Prepare the soil bed. Choose a sunny spot in your garden or a sunny windowsill that gets at least six hours of sun a day – and good drainage to avoid “wet feet.” Using pruning shears, carefully cut a twelve-inch branch from an established plant so you have a new plant from a cutting.

You can easily plant dragon fruit from cuttings

Be sure to follow the “up” direction for each cutting – when you plant them, you need to plant them upright so they can grow properly. Plant each cutting by sticking the base an inch or two deep into the soil and pressing the soil down around the cutting to keep it secure and upright.

  • Water

Water or spray the soil bed evenly with water and keep it moist. In three to four weeks, you should see new growth and a developing root system.

The cactus thrives in mild, humid environments because it is a tropical plant

  • Prune

Prune back dead, dying, diseased or overcrowded branches to keep the plant from getting disease and growing well on its support system.

  • Fertilize

Fertilize your plant once a month during the growing season to provide it with the nutrients it needs. Organic fertilizer, such as manure or compost, is a good source of nutrients. Buy rotted manure at your local hardware store or make your own compost at home.

Dragon fruits are delicious and very healthy, they strengthen the immune system

  • Pollinate

Dragon fruit plants rely on the work of nocturnal pollinators like moths to bear fruit. If you’re growing your dragon fruit as an indoor plant, you’ll need to pollinate it by hand after flowering: swirl a clean cotton swab or brush in the center of the flower to collect pollen, then brush the pollen onto the flower’s stigma, a tall branched part in the center of the flower. Certain varieties are self-pollinating, while others require another plant for cross-pollination – check which variety you have and whether you need more than one plant to produce fruit.

Best climate for growing pitahaya

Plant dragon fruit - tips and instructions for growing this exotic cactus plant

Although the plant belongs to the cactus family, it is not like the cacti you usually see in the desert. In fact, we are talking about a subtropical cactus, which means that it thrives in mild, humid environments. To grow the cactus successfully , you need to make sure that the plant can only tolerate temperatures between 0 and 35 degrees Celsius. If your climate outside is too cold or too warm for dragon fruit, you can successfully grow a plant indoors in a pot.

How to harvest the fruits

Eating dragon fruit can increase low iron levels

Once your dragon fruit tree is bearing fruit, harvesting is easy. Look for well-colored fruit whose “wings” (the flaps of skin on the outside of the fruit) are beginning to wilt. Turn the fruit carefully – when it is ripe, it is easy to detach from the stem. Do not wait until the fruit separates from the stem on its own, because it will be overripe. Unpeeled fruit will keep for several days on the countertop or up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Planting dragon fruit in the house

Make sure your cactus gets an even supply of sunlight

If you grow your cacti indoors, rotate the pot 180 degrees at regular intervals to ensure that the plant receives even sunlight. If you can’t guarantee 6 to 8 hours of sunlight year-round, you can mimic sunlight conditions by placing powerful LED grow lights near the pots. Initially, place the LED grow lights 30 inches away, and over time, move them close to the pot. Always choose places in the house where the room temperature does not exceed 37 degrees. Dragon fruit cactus loves humidity of 30 to 50% in the room. You can test the humidity with a humidity tester. During dry spells in the summer, use a room humidifier or spray the leaves of the plant with a water sprayer.

The sweet juice inside highlights the white flesh and tiny black seeds