Skip to content

Dragon Fruit Plant [Specialty, Benefits, How to Grow & Care]

    Their origin is a debatable issue and can be considered a hybrid. The plant is lithophytic which means they grow on rocks, deriving nutrients off the dead plants and rainwater. 

    The fruits they produce are known to be rich in taste and have a very refreshing taste. They are commonly used in jams, juice, ice cream and wine.

    The texture of the fruit is like that of kiwi with small seeds embedded in the flesh. Other than that they are known to have the largest blooms in the world.

    They are also known for the perfume that it fills the night air with. They rely on nocturnal pollinators for pollination. 

    The plant is naturally a vine. The stems branch profusely and are sprawling and climbing in nature. They can grow up to 4 to 7 metres or even 5-10 metres long. 

    SPECIALITY AND BENEFITS 

    Although the fruit is exotic and tropical, it can be found all over the world. The plants are heavy fruit bearers; they produce fruit 4-6 times a year. The fruits are delicious and are blessed with high nutrient value.

    • Protein: 3 grams
    • Calories: 136
    • Fat: 0 grams
    • Carbohydrates: 29 grams
    • Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
    • Iron: 8% of the RDI
    • Fiber: 7 grams
    • Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI
    • Vitamin E: 4% of the RDI (RDI refers to the Recommended Dietary Intake)
    • They help in fighting chronic diseases like cancer, heart diseases, diabetes and arthritis. Dragon fruit has vitamin C, Betalains, Carotenoids. They have all been known to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants in natural form are much more effective than pills or supplements. 
    • Our guts contain trillions of microorganisms and bacteria that are believed to impact our health. Dragon fruit contains prebiotics which helps improve our gut health by increasing the number of good bacteria. Their main job is to promote digestion of fibres, reduction in the risk of infection in the digestive tract and diarrhoea. 
    • Dragon fruit is loaded with fibre. Fibres are nondigestible carbohydrates that contain a boastable list of health benefits.It helps in protection against colon cancer, heart disease, type- 2 diabetes and maintaining a healthy body weight.
    • The thick skinned fruit is an excellent choice to be eaten as a source of magnesium. 
    • The fruit being a great source of antioxidant is an excellent choice for beauty treatments. Applying the fruit pulp can slow down the ageing process.
    • Besides the fact that the fruit is an excellent source of potassium and calcium. They of course help in maintaining bone structure. It plays a major role in maintaining pH, water content and acid balance in our body. 

    GROWTH CYCLE OF THE FRUIT

    Dragon fruit can produce fruit 4-6 times a year. The tropical plant is a long-lived perennial and can bear fruits within one year of its planting if grown from a cutting depending on how big the cutting is.

    If taken adequate care of the plant, it can bear fruit annually for 20-30 years. The tree can grow up to 40 feet tall.

    How do you grow and care for the plant?

    How do you grow and care for the plant?

    Dragon fruit cannot be grown in places in extreme cold conditions. They enjoy warm, humid temperatures and don’t need much water. The plant also needs almost six hours of sunlight per day. 

    The plant grows only during the hot months of summer and doesn’t grow at all during the other seasons. Nevertheless, the plant isn’t a slow grower; when it grows, it grows rapidly. 

    It isn’t very picky when it comes to soil but to maintain the well-draining status sandy soil would be the best option. The soil also needs to be slightly acidic.

    Care should be taken to water it right because it is a cactus and it is important to water only the top of the plant making sure the soil is dry to touch and water shouldn’t stay on the soil. 

    For the plant to bear fruits well, the light requirements play an important role. The plant needs full sun for at least 6 hours of the day.

    Cactus does not grow in cold temperatures, make sure the temperature is above 40 degrees F to prevent damage and ill health. The best temperature for its optimum growth would be 65-80 degrees F. 

    GROWING FROM SEEDS

    Cut a dragon fruit in two, scoop out a portion and wash the pulp off of the black seeds. Dry the seeds on a towel and leave them overnight. Make a germinating tray ready with poor starting mix but well-draining soil.

    Making the starter soil is easy, you can do it yourself by mixing one-part perlite and one-part peat. Now sprinkle the seeds on top and cover with a thin layer of growing medium. Make sure the medium covers the seeds barely.

    Use a sprayer and thoroughly wet the soil. Cover the pot with plastic wrap. This usually takes around 15 to 30 days. After the seeds germinate, uncover them and transfer them to bigger pots as they keep growing.

    GROWING FROM CUTTINGS

    Growing from plantlets is easier for a large number otherwise growing from cuttings is easy.

    Take a segment that is a foot long from the parent plant, this will give us nearly three to four new plants. Also, plant the cuttings during summer for optimum growth. 

    Cut the foot long cutting into three to six inch cuttings. Next step would be to dry or cure the cutting which takes two to five days. When the tips turn white, you will know the cutting is ready.

    The cutting now ready can be transferred into the soil two inches deep. A necessary measure would be to make sure that the orientation of the cutting is in the same direction of that of the parent plant. Water the plant daily unless the soil is moist.

    General Care

    FERTILIZER

     For active growth feed the plant with fertilizers during the growing season. When the winter hits, stop feeding for a few months if you’re growing it in a cold region.

    Side dressing with aged manure and compost can also be done occasionally. 

    PRUNING

    Since they grow rapidly, you can cut back on them a little during summer. With optimum conditions, the plant can grow up to 20 feet tall.

    Prune them annually by removing the decaying, overcrowding, overgrowing and dead stems. Save the healthier and productive ones.

    PESTS AND DISEASES

    Technically, the plants have no pests and diseases plaguing them but a few things must be kept in mind. An eye must be kept out on the plants for mealybugs and aphids, they feed on the sweet sap of the plant.

    Aphids especially attack the younger shoots and flower beds. Mites and thrips can plague the plant too, they won’t kill it but the overall health can be compromised.

    Fungal disease along with fruit and root rot can occur if the plant is overwatered. 

    Dragon spots are a sign of infection as dragon fruit plants are prone to bacterial infection. These bacteria can cause issues like soft stem rot. This affects the tips.

    The infection can be spread from plant to plant which is why the clippers must be sterilized after cutting. Although, in most cases, the plants fight it off in their own way.