Maybe you’ve seen dragon fruits for sale at your local grocery store. The red or yellow collection of layered scales looks almost like an exotic artichoke. Inside, however, is a sweet mass of white pulp and tiny, crunchy seeds. If you want to grow dragon fruit at home, you’ll be rewarded not only with fruit, but also with an impressive, branching cactus vine and brilliant, night-blooming flowers. Keep reading to learn how to grow dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus), also known as pitahaya, is native to Central and South America and needs year-round heat. It can tolerate a brief frost and will recover quickly from any freeze damage, but prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures will kill it. It can tolerate heat up to 104 F. (40 C.).
Although it is a cactus, it requires a relatively high amount of water. Dragon fruit trees are vining, and need something to climb. They are also heavy – a mature plant can reach 25 feet (7.6 m.) and several hundred pounds. Bear this in mind when building your trellis. The best choice is strong wooden beams. A decent amount of pruning and tying is necessary in training it to follow the trellis, but dragon fruit trees are fast growing and very tolerant of pruning.
How to Grow Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit trees can be started from seeds, but it may take as long as seven years for the plant to produce fruit. Because of this, the much more popular alternative is growing dragon fruit from a cutting of an already mature plant. This method could produce fruit in as little as 6 months.
To propagate, cut a full segment from a mature plant. This may be anywhere from 6-15 inches (12-38 cm.). Make a slanted cut in the open end and treat it with fungicide. Then allow it to “cure” in a dry, shady place for a week, letting the open cut dry and heal.
After that, you can plant it directly in the ground. You may get better results, however, if you first plant it in a pot and let it establish a good root system for 4-6 months first before transplanting.