Growing Dragon Fruit:
The following is all about growing Growing Dragon Fruit (Pitaya).
Introduction to Growing Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is a subtropical and tropical cactus fruit native to Central America, South America, and central Mexico. Dragon fruit plants are drought tolerant plants and dragon fruit is popularly known as “Pitaya” or “Pitahaya”. Dragon fruit belongs to the family of “Cactaceae” which can reach a weight up to 500 grams in some varieties up to 900 grams to 1 kg. People are showing lots of interest in growing dragon fruit at home as well as outdoors. You can grow dragon fruit in big containers as well. Let us discuss in detail of how to grow dragon fruit from seeds or how to grow dragon fruit from cuttings.
Commercial Dragon Fruit Producing Countries
- Sri Lanka.
Scientific Name of Dragon Fruit
- Hylocereus undatus.
Common Names of Dragon Fruit
- Pitaya / Pitahaya.
- Cactus fruit.
- Thai kaeo mangkon.
- Kaktus madu.
- Cereus triangularis.
- Night blooming cereus.
- Belle of the Night
- Jesus in the Cradle.
- Indonesia buah naga.
- Strawberry Pear.
- Nanettika fruit.
- Long guo.
Dragon Fruit Varieties / Types
- White Fleshed – Pink Skinned.
- White Fleshed – Yellow Skinned.
- Colored Flesh – Pink Skinned.
Where Can We Grow Dragon Fruit?
- Indoors (Containers/Backyards).
- Greenhouse / Polyhouse.
Climate Required for Growing Dragon Fruit
- Dragon fruits can be grown both in tropical and sub-tropical climatic conditions.
- The optimal temperature for dragon fruit growing is 20°C to 30°C.
- This does not prefer bright sunlight, hence providing a shade is good cultivation practice.
- Dragon fruit crop does not demand high annual rainfall, however, 50 to 55cm annual rainfall is sufficient for its optimal growth.
What Kind Of Soil is Required for Growing Dragon Fruit
- Dragon fruits can be grown on a wide range of soils.
- Well-drained sandy soil with good organic matter results healthy growth of plant and quality produce.
- It can be grown in soils from sandy loam to clay loam having well-drained.
- Soils with a pH value of 5.6 to 7.0 are ideal for the commercial cultivation of dragon fruit.
Field Preparation for Growing Dragon Fruit
- Give a couple of ploughings to make the soil weed free. Remove any rocks and any previous crop trees.
When to Plant Dragon Fruit / Planting Season for Growing Dragon Fruit
- Commercial dragon crop can be planted any time of the year with required irrigation.
Propagation of Growing Dragon Fruit
- Vegetative method (cuttings).
Planting of Growing Dragon Fruit
- Growing Dragon Fruit With Seeds: Planting with seeds in commercial growing of dragon fruit is not advisable as it takes a long time to get the crop. In this method of planting, The black seeds are removed and washed from the inner flesh of the fruit.
- Growing Dragon Fruit With Cuttings (vegetative method): In this method, 20 to 25 cm long dragon fruit plant cuttings are used from a healthy mother plant. You should prepare these cuttings just 2 to 3 days before of planting in the main field. As part of cuttings treatment, the collected cuttings should be treated with well-decomposed farmyard manure like cow-dung and topsoil along with sand in the ratio of 1:1:2 by keeping in a pot or container. Dragon fruit plant cuttings taken from the newer portions of the stem will root most vigorously. Older stem segments offer a good resistance to pest attacks. It is recommended to take cuttings from only healthy, and disease-free plants.
- Prepare the pits size of 60 x 60 x 60 cm and place the cuttings at the center of pits by maintaining plant-to-plant distance as 2.5 meters. After placing the cuttings, fill each pit with topsoil along with 90 to 100 grams of superphosphate compost.
- Dragon fruit cuttings need support to establish a good framework. The orchard should be trained with any rock poles, or wooden
- To cover 1-hectare land, you required 4200 healthy cuttings.
- Buy the dragon fruit cuttings from certified nurseries.
Watering for Growing Dragon Fruit
- Well, dragon fruit is a cactus fruit hence it requires water moderately just like other succulents. Water them only when the soil is completely dry. Avoid any water logging conditions as this plant is sensitive to such kind of conditions. Dragon fruit plants can survive without water for months.
- Though it requires moderate watering, in critical stages like fruiting, provide a 1 inch of water per week for better fruit size.
- You can adapt drip irrigation method for effective use of water in commercial dragon fruit farming. Avoid irrigation by flooding.
Manures and Fertilizers for Growing Dragon Fruit
- Dragon fruit crop responds very well to manures and fertilizers. In the commercial cultivation of dragon fruit, one should make sure the plants get enough nutrients for vegetative growth and quality produce.
- Garden compost /Organic compost = 12 to 15 kg/plant.
- Muriate of potash = 35 to 40 grams/plant.
- Super phosphate = 85 to 90 grams/plant.
- Urea = 65 to 70 grams/plant.
- It is always recommended to increase the potash and decrease the nitrogen quantity, especially during fruit bearing stage.
- You can spread Superphosphate: Urea: Muriate of potash = 50 grams:50 grams:100 on plants from flowering to harvesting.
Pollination of Growing Dragon Fruit
- Most of the varieties of dragon fruits are self-pollinated. However, if some varieties may require cross-pollination. In this case, grow 2 or more dragon fruit plants closely for cross-pollination.
Pests and Diseases of Growing Dragon Fruit
- Usually, you won’t find any particular pests in dragon fruit crop. However, fruit rot and root rot and other fungal diseases are possible. To control these, avoid too much of watering and prevent the field from heavy rains waterlogging.
When to Harvest Dragon Fruits
- It is easy to identify the harvesting stage. They change the skin color from bright green to pink or red. The fruits are usually 12 to 15 cm long from oval to ovate shape. These fruits are formed after 30 to 45 days after flowering.
How Long Does Dragon Plant Bear Fruits
- Usually, Dragon plants bear fruits for 4 to 5 months every year (It may be lesser than five months in cooler seasons), usually from early summer through a mid-fall season. Dragon fruit plant is a long-lived perennial plant and it continues to produce fruits for 25 to 30 years.
Yield of Dragon Fruit
- The yield of dragon fruit depends on planting method, soil and other orchard management practices. On an average one can obtain 5 to 6 tonnes/acre.
Care for Growing Dragon Fruit Plant in Winter
- Mulching the dragon fruits with 2 to 3-inch layer of wood chips will make great protection from extreme temperature changes especially in commercial dragon fruit farming. You can keep it 10 to 12 inches away from the base to protect the plant roots in case of frost. In winter, dragon fruit plants don’t require much water hence avoid regular or too much watering.
Marketing in Growing Dragon Fruit
- You can transport freshly harvested dragon fruits to nearest fruit markets or any fruit processing units.
- The price of dragon fruit depends on the quality and region.