Dragon fruit has lately become one of the most prominent commercial crops in the world. Native to Mexico and Central America, the dragon fruit plant is cultivated in various parts of the world today. The soaring popularity of this fruit has resulted in more and more people opting to grow it in their own farms and backyard.
What is a Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit is grown in various parts of the world, right from Philippines to Mexico. The original name of this fruit, which is widely known as the dragon fruit owing to its scaly appearance, is pitaya. It is also referred to as the Queen of the Night, Lady of the Night, or Moonflower owing to its tendency to bloom at night.
Dragon fruit or pitaya has three varieties: the Red pitaya, Yellow pitaya, and the Costa Rica pitaya. This fruit can weigh anywhere between 150 to 600 grams and has red or white flesh within. The fruit is eaten along with its seeds. It is believed that the dragon fruit tastes the best when it is chilled. Its nutritional benefits make it a popular choice among health enthusiasts.
How to Grow Dragon Fruit Plant?
The dragon fruit is a plant belonging to the cactus species which can attain a height 20 feet. Though the plant flourishes in areas with hot climate, you can grow it in your own backyard as well. In the United States, it is known to flourish in USDA zones 10 and 11. Growing dragon fruit is easier than it seems, and the fact that minimal care is required to grow it, adds to its popularity. You can either grow it from the seed or grow it from a vine. The second method is more convenient, especially if you don't live in tropical area. More importantly, growing it from seed takes more time.
You will require potting soil or compost mix to grow this plant. Its seeds will germinate in 10 to 14 days. When planting a vine, make sure that you have planted it 2 - 3 inches into the ground. Dragon fruit is a variety of cactus, so there are chances that over-watering might damage it. An ideal option is to water it once every two weeks. This will also give enough time for the soil to dry. Initially, you will have to keep the plant in warm conditions―preferably in filtered sunlight. As the plant grows, its stems will become heavy. At this point, you will have to provide it some support to grow.
This plant flowers 3 - 6 times in a year. It can withstand a temperature ranging between frost (for a brief period) to 104 °F. It blooms during the night and requires nocturnal creatures like the bats to facilitate pollination. This can turn out to be a negative aspect, if you intend to grow this plant for fruits. On the other hand, if you intend to grow the plant to enhance the landscape, you will be more than happy about the results.