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.
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.
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.
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.
Grow 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.
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.
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.
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 it in smoothies, whipped into puddings, sauces, or make it into a sweet and savory salsa!