If you are interested in growing an exotic plant in your home garden, you should try the Dragon Fruit plant. This plant is also called the Honolulu Queen or Hylocereus Cactus.
This is actually a cactus plant that will not only produce foliage but also grows colorful fruit. Fruits on a cactus might sound weird, but this plant is a perfect example of this combination.
Aside from boosting immunity with Vitamin C, Dragon fruit also has zero cholesterol, so it’s good for the health of your heart and cardiovascular system.
This interesting plant is native to Central America and southern Mexico, but thanks to horticulture practices, today it can be grown anywhere in the world.
But it still has some plant care requirements that will be shared in this article.
Dragon Fruit Plant Care
The Dragon Fruit plant needs a sandy soil mixture with perlite that is watered when topsoil is dry. It will appreciate growing in a spot that receives full sun. Temperature also plays an important role for this cactus, so keep the temperature close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius). Optimal humidity levels are 40-50%. Water more than a regular cactus, apply water once the soil is dry.
You can successfully grow the Dragon Fruit in outdoor areas of USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11.
Avoid using Cactus soil for growing Dragon fruit in pots or garden soil because they need soil that can hold more water.
I would also suggest you test the soil pH to make sure it’s between 6-7 as this plant requires slightly acidic soil.
You can create a sandy soil mixture using sand, perlite, and regular potting soil. If you’ll plant it in a garden bed, make sure it is 15 inches high.
Dragon Fruit needs more moisture than other cactus varieties, so you cannot follow a watering schedule designed for a cactus.
This plant needs moist soil that replicates its native subtropical growing environment. Allow few inches of the soil to dry out before watering but never the entire potting mixture.
Follow a watering frequency that ensures that the soil does not remain soggy or wet for too long, as overwatering is highly discouraged for Dragon Fruit.
If it’s growing in a pot, you can use the traditional method of checking the soil by hand. If the soil feels dry on touching, go ahead and add water.
Otherwise, your plant can survive a little more time without water.
This plant grows actively in the summer months, so watering during this time period is the top priority.
This cactus plant needs daily sunlight exposure for at least six hours. It loves growing in the full sun, especially the tip of the branches.
Maintaining proper light is crucial if you want to experience blooms and fruits.
This plant does not like growing in extremely cold or hot weather. The suitable temperature range for this plant is 32 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 32.2 degrees Celsius).
Based on my experience, it’s best to grow in temperatures close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius).
Never leave your Dragon Fruit plant outdoors in the extreme cold. You can bring it inside during winter.
This subtropical cactus comes from humid environments, so it’s not your typical cactus that likes a dry atmosphere.
The air humidity should be 40-50%.
Fertilizing this plant every month in the growing season will ensure that it has enough nutrients for plant growth.
I would recommend using a fertilizer designed for fruit-bearing plants.
You have to skip fertilizing the Dragon Fruit plant in the cold months.
If the soil dries quicker than usual, you should consider repotting this plant in a bigger container with a fresh soil mixture.
This is a climbing variety, so it needs physical support such as a trellis or stake. I would recommend installing the support when your Dragon Fruit plant is 12 inches tall.
Pruning will not help it grow properly on the support you choose but also reduce the risk of diseases. Get rid of any diseased or dying stems.
It’s great to prune the plant in summer to remove any rotting foliage caused by extreme weather. Pruning will keep the potted plant in control.
Take a 12 inches long stem cutting from a healthy and mature Dragon Fruit plant.
Now further divide this cutting into 3 or 4 sections. For higher chances of success, do the propagation in the summer months.
Leave these sections in a dry location to help the edges cure. There is no fixed time for this curing period, taking anywhere between two days to a complete week.
But once you notice the edges have turned white, the cuttings are ready for the next step.
Spray these cuttings with a fungicide to help them fight disease or bacteria. Each section can be planted separately but make sure the cuttings are planted in the upright position.
The bottom edges (the tip closer to the base of the plant) should be 1-2 inches below ground. Now water the soil and wait for the cuttings to grow.
My cuttings started showing signs of growth in 3-4 weeks. Once your cuttings are strong enough to handle the outdoor environment, you can plant them in the garden.
I think everything about this plant is worth mentioning. Apart from the colorful fruit, the flowers on this cactus are considered the largest.
These flowers are named night-blooming cereus and will open only at night.
Each flower lasts for a single night to show off its white beauty. The flowers are also scented and have a tropical scent. The flower looks exotic with fluffy white petals and a yellow center.
The blooms usually appear anywhere between July to October. Do not be sad once the blooms are over because it indicates the fruiting stage has begun.
The fruit for this plant is bright yellow or red, and it grows on thick succulent stems. This fruit has other names like strawberry pear, pitaya, or cactus fruit.
The fruit is not only colorful but also juicy, sweet, and rich in fiber plus antioxidants. You can include it in your smoothie, fruit salad, or simply eat it raw.
Following are the three common varieties of Dragon Fruit for home gardeners.
The fruit’s outer part is yellow while the inside’s white.
The outer shell also has more thorns compared to other varieties, and you will rarely find this in home gardens.
The fruit of this variety is red, pink, and white.
The outer part of this dragon fruit is red, and the inside is also dark-colored (red or purple).
The initial unripe fruit is green. Afterward, based on the variety you are growing, the fruit will change color.
It’s ready for harvest once the wings start to wither. Gently push the fruit to separate it from the plant. I have noticed the fruit takes about two weeks to ripe.
I would not recommend waiting for the fruit to fall from the plant as this indicates your fruit has overripened.
This plant grows vigorously in summer, and for the remaining months of the year, it’s resting.
Once you take good care of the Dragon Fruit plant, it can last for 20 to 30 years and rewards you with fruits every year.
Growing Dragon Fruit from Seeds
Starting this plant from seeds is rare because it takes several years for fruit production.
Most growers agree that it takes about five years to start bearing the fruit, which might be too long for some of us.
If you’re eager to grow it from seeds, check the instructions below.
- Start by preparing the soil bed in a sunny location. Plant the seeds in soil that is rich plus well-draining.
- You can harvest the seeds from the Dragon Fruit. Simply cut the fruit in half and take out the seeds. The seeds are black and resemble the seeds found in kiwi.
- Now wash the seeds to get rid of the flesh or fruit pulp. Before sowing, the seeds should be allowed to dry out for about twelve hours. Just spread them on a moist paper towel for drying.
- Sprinkle the seeds on the soil bed prepared earlier. Cover them with soil, but just a thin layer of it.
- Make sure you keep the soil bed moist after sowing the seed.
- If the water dries too quickly, you should install a plastic covering to lock the moisture.
- Later, you can perform thinning to allow the seedlings to have more room for growth. I would recommend transferring them to tiny pots.
- You can also sow the seeds in a germination tray and grow them on a sunny window sill.
Common Problems for Dragon Fruit Plant
This plant is susceptible to bacterial infection (Botryosphaeria dothidea) that causes spots on the foliage. These spots are called dragon spots.
The fungus for this infection spreads if your Dragon Fruit is overwatered or in high humidity.
Initially, these spots are yellow marks. Soon they will turn into bumpy red or brown spots.
The dragon spots are not deadly, but they will surely impact fruit production. Immediately prune the infected parts and avoid leaving water on the leaves or shoots.
This infection can easily spread from one plant to another with the tools being used for pruning.
So it’s highly recommended to disinfect the tools right after pruning. You can also spray the plant with a copper fungicide.
Tips for Growing Dragon Fruit Plant
- Avoid overwatering because all Dragon Fruit varieties are sensitive to wet feet.
- If you are propagating Dragon Fruit with seeds, make sure the seeds are not planted deeply.
- Do not trim a large portion of the Dragon Fruit plant, as it can shock the plant and result in stunted growth.
- Once the plant growing in any outdoor location is loaded with fruits, you should install bird netting to protect the fruit from birds.
- Growing it in pots is a great idea because you can move the plant easily when cold weather arrives. The pot should have drainage options to avoid the pooling of water.
- Hand pollination should be performed at night. You can do this anytime between 8 pm to 8 am.
- Dragon fruit plants propagated via stem cuttings take one to three years to start producing fruit.
- You can grow this plant next to the fence in the garden so that the fence can be used as support.
- The fruit for this plant will not ripe after it has been collected from the plant. So I would not recommend harvesting unripe fruit.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dragon Fruit Plant Care
How can you pollinate an indoor Dragon Fruit plant?
If your Dragon Fruit plant is not self-pollinating, you will perform hand pollination. Collect the pollen from the flowers using a paintbrush or cotton swab. Now brush this pollen in the middle of the flower, known as stigma.
Until when can you keep the dragon fruit?
If the fruit is unpeeled, it will last for several days in the kitchen. It’s also possible to store it in the ref for a maximum time of two weeks.
What happens if you grow the Dragon Fruit plant in the shade?
This is a sun-loving plant that needs full sun to grow properly. If you try growing it in a shaded spot, the quality and size of the fruit will be compromised.
What size pot should be used for a mature Dragon Fruit plant?
A mature Dragon Fruit plant should be grown in a 15-20 gallon pot.
How long will the Dragon Fruit seeds take for germination?
The germination occurs in 10 to 15 days from the sowing date. If it takes longer, you should consider revising the care schedule of the seeds.
This plant blooms only once a year, that too for one night. The flowers will spread a fruity aroma in your garden.
If you want to enjoy the tasty fruit, follow the instructions and maintain an adequate growing environment.
Overall it’s an easy plant, but as it’s a fruit-bearing variety, you should pay attention to it in the growing season for a good harvest.
The fruit has a strange appearance, but that’s what makes it exotic. It has a fruity taste just like other tropical fruits.
I would recommend growing this in your garden to give it a tropical and exotic vibe.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.