There are a couple of different types of dragon fruit the most common varieties are:
- Hylocereus undatus: white flesh with pink/red skin (most popular in Australia)
- Hylocereus Megalanthus: white flesh with yellow skin
- Hylocereus costaricensis: purple/red flesh and pink/red skin
Climate & Aspect
As mentioned above, dragon fruit is native to South America, but you’ll also found it grown in parts of Indonesia, Taiwan, Southern California and most recently Australia. Dragon fruit grows on cactus plants which love warm, humid climates and needs very little water. They are subtropical plants which need at least six hours of sunlight per day. They will also grow well in a warm and sunny spot indoors.
How to grow
To grow dragon fruit from seeds you need very little equipment but a lot of time. Grab an organic dragon fruit from your local supermarket and scoop out the seeds. Was the seeds and dry them overnight before planting them. Simply sow cacti seeds in compost or potting mix the seeds should germinate within two weeks. From seed it can take between five and seven years for the plant to produce fruit which is why it is the least popular option.
In a pot
Growing dragon fruit in pots is a great idea, especially for those who live in the colder parts of Australia, so you can move your plant to a warmer position in the cooler months. In the right conditions dragon fruit plants grow can grow to be quite tall and will put down aerial roots as they grow so make sure your pot is at least 40cm in diameter. Also, remember that dragon fruit plants are climbers so give them a stake or something else to climb on.
Use good quality cacti potting soil that is a bit sandy and slightly acidic.
Have a look on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree for a dragon plant for a sale as people are often selling cuttings off cheap or for nothing at all!
Growing dragon fruit outdoors in your garden is a fail-proof way to add colour and personality to your garden. To prepare simply clear the area of any weeds and rocks and make sure that the soil is slightly sandy and acidic, you can always add a bit of extra potting mix to the bed to help make it cacti-proof.
As your dragon fruit plant grows invest in a trellis or plant it near a fence something that it can climb on, just be wary they are heavy plants so it needs to be able to support the dragon fruit plants weight when it is bearing fruit too.
From a cutting
Propagating a dragon fruit tree is relatively easy, all you need to do is find a friend with a tree and you’re good to go. Snip off a 30cm section of a dragon fruit tree and leave it to dry out for 5-6 days or until the cut end turns white. Once it has dried out simply place cut side down into sandy cacti soil and water monthly. Your plant will send out roots and make itself at home within a month and then continue to grow. Easy peasy! You’ll need to wait between one and three years for fruit using this method.
How to harvest
When your dragon fruit starts flowering is a good indicator that fruit is on its way. Generally speaking, it will take around four weeks for a dragon fruit to be ready, you’ll know when it is ripe when its skin turns that vibrant pink. Use a pair of sharp secateurs to cut the fruit off and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Like strawberries, Pitaya doesn’t continue to ripen after harvest so make sure that it has fully ripened before picking.
Plant Care & Troubleshooting
Generally speaking, dragon fruit plants aren’t under thread by too many pests and animals. But when their prized fruit starts to appear you need to protect it from bats and birds. Use bird netting to keep your fruit safe.
If you notice spots on the stems and leaves of the plant this could be a sign of infection. Dragon fruit is prone to a bacterial infection which causes the stem to rot. If you notice spots don’t worry in most cases the dragon fruit plant will fight it off themselves.
If your dragon fruit plant is getting a bit out of control cut it back in the Summer months. If you can snip 30cm branches off and give them to fruits or start propagating them in soil.
One of the easiest ways to kill dragon fruit plants is by overwatering. Make sure that the soil is never sopping wet if in doubt hold off on watering for a day or two. If you water the plant too often you could cause the roots to rot.
To keep your dragon fruit plant thriving fertilise it regularly during the growing season.
You might also like: