"Pitaya" is the fruit of several species of cactus plants. In Indonesian commonly known as "dragon fruit", pitaya is a fruit that comes from Mexico. This plant was later grown in Central America and other parts of the world. This plant is easy to care for; but it takes years to bear fruit. But if you're willing to wait, you'll find an abundance of sweet fruit that's fresh, bright, and exotic-looking.
Part 1 of 3: Choosing the Right Land
Step 1. Choose between dragon fruit seeds or mature plant cuttings
Which one you choose depends on the time of day. If you grow dragon fruit from seed, it may take about two years to bear fruit. If you're growing from stem cuttings, it can take significantly less time (depending on how big the stem pieces you are using).
- For the record, growing from seed is no more difficult. It just takes longer.
- There are plant sellers who provide dragon fruit plants that are ready to be planted in your garden. Be careful when removing them from the box, to make sure you don't damage these young plants.
Step 2. Decide whether you will plant indoors or outdoors, outdoors, or in containers
Believe it or not, dragon fruit can grow well in containers. If you're using a container, choose one that's 38 to 60 cm in diameter, and at least 25 cm deep, complete with climbing poles. However, this plant will likely eventually grow to need a larger pot, so be prepared to move it when this happens.
- If you're growing it outdoors (whether in a container or not), choose a spot with at least partial sun. The roots can be in the shade, but the tips of the plant must be in the sun for it to bloom.
- If you live in a warm environment with a long, warm growing season, this plant can be grown outdoors. Dragon fruit can withstand light snow, but that's about it. If your neighborhood has a typical winter, move this plant inside.
Step 3. Use sandy cactus soil with good drainage
Technically, this plant is a cactus. The last thing you want is to use moist, loamy soil. This plant takes only a small amount of food from the soil, and does not require a lot of fertilizer. Plant it in a part of the garden that is not often flooded. If the rainfall in your area is high, plant dragon fruit in hilly or walled soil, so that the water flows quickly.
If you're growing it in a container, get a large pot with drainage holes in the bottom. If you don't have cactus soil, you can make your own by mixing sand, potting soil, and compost. Fill to 7 cm from the edge of the pot
Part 2 of 3: Growing and Caring for Dragon Fruit Plants
Step 1. Allow the plant cuttings to dry before planting
If you have fresh cuttings, it's a good idea to let them dry first in a cool, protected place for about 1 week. This step is done so that the wound on the cut heals and the plant is not infected after planting.
Step 2. Plant the cuttings in a place that gets lots of sun
For best results, the leaves of the dragon fruit plant should be exposed to full sun. Also make sure the plant gets enough sunlight during its growth.
Step 3. Plant parallel to the soil surface
If you are using a cutting or young plant that you purchased, carefully remove it from the container, and replant it parallel to the soil surface. If you are using seeds, sprinkle a few seeds into each container, and cover them gently with soil.
- If growing from seed, you will have to wait and see which ones germinate. In a few weeks, you'll see them start to germinate, and you'll need to separate them. Otherwise, the plant may not reach its maximum growth potential.
- Consider mixing a small amount of slow-release fertilizer into the soil before planting; this may help speed up plant growth.
Step 4. Apply fertilizer only for a certain time
Even pieces of dragon fruit plants will still take up to four months to form healthy and strong roots. However, you should be wary of using fertilizers: too much fertilizer can easily kill your plants. For best results, apply a slow-release nitrogen cactus fertilizer only once every two months. You may be tempted to apply more fertilizer to see it grow right away, but this won't help.
As the plant grows, make sure it still gets enough sunlight. The tip of the plant should be in the sun for about 80% of the time. Otherwise, this plant will enter into a dormant phase
Step 5. Water the dragon fruit plant like you would water a tropical cactus
In other words, only give a little water when the plant is completely dry. If your plant is large enough to propagate, keep the vines moist. A water dropper (dripper) may be useful in this situation.
Over-watering the plant was likely the main cause of its death; because dragon fruit plants do not need it. Don't be tempted, this plant really doesn't need it. If you are using a pot, pay attention to the flow of the water. If there are no drainage holes, the plant will need less water, or the water will accumulate at the bottom of the pot and cause the roots to rot and die
Part 3 of 3: Harvesting Fruit
Step 1. Pay attention to the growth of dragon fruit plants
While your plants may take several years to bear fruit, some of them will grow rapidly up to 30 cm in one week. When it starts to grow, use the vines to form the structure. This can help it reach its maximum growth potential without damaging or burdening it.
- If you are growing dragon fruit from seed, and it starts to appear to be growing clearly, separate them into separate pots. These plants need their own environment to grow and develop.
- You may notice flowers blooming after weeks. However, this plant will only "really" bloom at night (yes, it's nocturnal), so you probably missed the flowers. Many of them self-fertilize (if not, you can try to help with fertilization by brushing the tips of natural pollen into the flowers). If the fruit is about to start growing, you will see the flowers shrivel and the base of the flower begins to swell.
Step 2. Prune the dragon fruit plant
Dragon fruit plants can be very large, some varieties can even reach a height of up to 6.1 m. When they get too big, start pruning by cutting off some of the stems. The lighter weight of the plant may even make it stronger, concentrate its nutrients, and promote flower growth.
You don't have to throw away the stems! You can replant it in a pot, so you get a new plant (the roots will grow quickly), or you can give it as a gift
Step 3. Pick the flowers at the end of the year
In most climates, dragon fruit ripens from July to December, depending on how warm the temperature is that year. You'll know a dragon fruit is ripe if most of the outer surface is pink (or yellow, in the Selenicereus megalanthus variety).
Press the fruit with your finger. If it is soft like a ripe avocado, then the dragon fruit is ready to be picked
Step 4. Eat
You've been waiting years for this time, so enjoy it. You can cut the fruit into quarters, and peel the skin, or scoop out the flesh straight away. The taste is sweet and the texture resembles a kiwi fruit but is more crunchy.
After full fruiting, this plant will bear fruit four to six times a year. Eventually your plant will reach this stage, and it just takes time. So don't think that the fruit you pick first will be the last fruit. You have waited patiently, and now the results are abundant
A quick way to grow pitaya (dragon fruit) is to cut or break the existing plant. The separated stem will not shrivel, but will grow its own roots in search of new soil
- This plant can withstand temperatures up to 40°C and very light frosts, but will not withstand long freezing temperatures.
- Too much watering and too much rainfall can cause the flowers to fall off and the fruit to rot.