If you would like to bring a bit of tropical feel into your home, you can start off by growing some exotic fruit in your garden or on your balcony. As Dragon fruit is relatively easy to grow, you can try growing this unique, eye-popping subtropical fruit first.
Learning how to grow dragon fruit will be easy if you read the following tutorial we have prepared for you. If you follow our guidelines, soon enough you will be able to enjoy the bright colors and unusual taste of this South American fruit.
DID YOU KNOW?
The name “dragon fruit” has originated in Asia due to the chunky scaled skin of this fruit which resembles dragon scales. Although extensively grown and well known in Asia, the real origin of dragon fruit is in Mexico.
What does the dragon fruit taste like?
With such a vibrant, bright colored and inviting exterior, one would expect the explosion of flavor from the dragon fruit. We hate to disappoint you, but it is not the case. Although it does not taste bland, it will not be taste bud celebration either.
To be specific, the taste of dragon fruit mostly resembles the that of melon, but with quite a different kiwi-like texture. The tiny seeds are really hard to feel, and should not bother anyone. When you crunch a few seeds between teeth a slightly acid taste or a tang is felt, which is actually quite pleasant and refreshing.
If you wonder how to eat dragon fruit, we advise you put it in a fridge for a couple of hours before you try it as it is best eaten chilled. Next, cut the fruit in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon. When eaten this way, the dragon fruit is quite enjoyable. It also tastes great in cocktails or when added to fruit salads.
Different varieties of dragon fruit taste somewhat differently, the sweetest being the yellow one. On the other hand, the yellow variety develops spines up to a centimeter long, which have to be carefully removed.
Why Grow Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit plant is not only attractive but can be actually very beneficial to your health. Some of the benefits are as follows:
- High levels of Vitamin C found in the fruit help boost your immune system. There is also a bounty of other vitamins which will help you stay healthy.
- Lack of cholesterol makes this fruit suitable even for people with heart, and cardiovascular, problems.
- Carotene present in dragon fruit provides anti-carcinogenic properties.
- The fibers will improve your digestion and boost your metabolism.
In addition to all of these health benefits, there is also the already mentioned exotic look that will wow your guests.
Types of Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit or comes in three different types. Until it is ripe, the fruit will be green, regardless of the type, the difference occurs when the fruit ripens. Ripe fruit will be either bright yellow or red, while the inside pulp is always filled will small seeds similar to those in a kiwi fruit. The three types are:
- Hylocereus Undatus – This variation has red exterior and white flesh.
- Hylocereus Costaricensis – This type is red both on the outside and in the flesh. The flesh has blood–like, dark red color.
- Hylocereus Megalanthus – This type of dragon fruit has a yellow shell and white fruit flesh. Moreover, its shell is thornier.
Dragon fruit is referred by many other names in different parts of the world – in Indonesia it is called buah naga, but you can hear many other names such as Kaktus madu, Cereus triangularis, Long guo, Strawberry Pear, Thanh long, Cactus fruit, Belle of the Night, Night blooming Cereus, and Jesus in the Cradle.
This plant actually belongs to the cactus family. The flowers it produces are admittedly exquisite and one of the largest in the world- with a diameter of 25 cm and 30 cm long. The flowers open for only one night and have a strong fruity fragrance.
How to Grow Dragon Fruit
There are few things to consider if you want to learn how to grow a Dragon fruit successfully:
- Provide support – Being a climbing cactus, Dragon fruit plant needs support to climb on. When it matures, this plant forms aerial roots from the branches and climbs against any support it can find.
- Provide enough sun – Being a tropical plant Dragon fruit enjoys the sun and heat. However, it is better to find a place which receives partial sun and remains dry.
- Secure an appropriate location and climate conditions – Dragon fruit can be successfully grown both in the ground and in a container or pot. If you live in areas with relatively strong winters, opt for the latter option so that you are able to move the plant inside during cold nights and in the winter. In essence, Dragon fruit cannot stand frost and can survive for only a short period in temperatures below 28 F.
Growing Dragon Fruit from Seed
You can take out Dragon fruit seeds by dividing the fruit in half and scooping out them from the pulp. After you take the black seeds out, wash them from the pulp and place them on a moist paper towel for one night.
If you do not own a germinating tray, fill a small pot with well-draining starting mix. If you cannot purchase a ready-made mixture, you can make it on your own by mixing one part perlite and one part peat.
You are now ready to place the seeds on the surface and lightly cover them with a thin layer of growing medium. Next, use a sprayer to moisten the soil and cover the pot with plastic wrap. The soil should be kept moist until seeds germinate- this usually takes 15 to 30 days. Finally, transplant the germinated seeds into a larger pot or container.
Check this video for more detail:
Growing Dragon Fruit from Cuttings
If you are taking the cuttings from the parent plant on your own, do not take too much or you can stunt its growth and put it in danger. The ideal time to start growing the cuttings is in the summer.
You need a cactus segment around a foot long that you can use to make three to four new plants. As soon as you cut this cutting in three to six inches cuttings, you should apply fungicide to each end and let them dry for two to five days or until the tips turn white.
When you prepared the cuttings in this way, all that remains is to place them in the soil. Make sure that you position them correctly- oriented in the same way that they were on the parent plant. Put them about two inches deep into the soil and water them immediately.
The soil must always be moist, so check it daily and water when needed. After about three to four weeks the roots should appear. However, it grows slowly so it will take a few years before the plant can produce fruit.
Check this video for more detail:
Once the plant has set off you need to provide:
A sandy, well-draining soil is an ideal choice. You can mix sand with garden soil as well.
Being a cactus, Dragon fruit should be watered moderately. It is best to wait until the soil is completely dry.
Dragon fruit should be fertilized monthly with a slow-time release, low-nitrogen cactus fertilizer, especially during the plant’s growing season. If you live in colder climate, you should not fertilize in winter. Additionally, you can add aged manure or compost from time to time.
Most dragon fruit varieties are self-pollinating, but if you own a one that requires cross-pollination, you will need to grow two or more dragon fruit plants close to each other.
The fruit is ready to harvest when it changes the skin color from green to red or pink. It should be oval and 10 to 15 cm long. This usually happens 30 to 50 days after flowering.
Pests and Diseases
You do not have to worry about any pests, but the plant is prone to fungal diseases, especially if you water it too often or expose it to too much rain. In such a scenario the root and fruit can rot.
Prune the plant when necessary.