Dragon fruit is a vining member of the cactus family native to the rainforests of South America. When it blooms, the flowers are among the largest in the world, and from those pollinated flowers, dragon fruit grows. The prickly looking fruits are definitely unique, and the good news is, you can grow them at home with a bit of care and the right conditions. Discover what conditions and care you need and learn how to grow dragon fruit at home.
Warm Temperatures and Bright Light Are Essential
Dragon fruit is basically a climbing tropical cactus. So, to grow dragon fruit successfully, it's important to provide those elements necessary for both cacti and tropical plants first and foremost.
Dragon fruit needs at least six hours (preferably more) of full, bright light per day. An unobstructed south-facing window would be ideal if growing indoors, or any full-sun location outdoors.
If you want to grow dragon fruit indoors and don't have a bright southern window, you'll need to install plant lights to provide it with enough light for strong, healthy growth. It's important to keep in mind that dragon fruit plants grow quite large, so they'll need a large container (at least twelve to eighteen inches deep and wide) and enough room to vine and grow both taller and wider.
Dragon fruit grows best in temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It cannot withstand temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and definitely should be kept away from cold drafts.
Humidity, Soil, Water, and Fertilization
As much as possible, it's important to mimic the conditions the dragon fruit would have in its native habitat.
High humidity levels are important to growing healthy, productive dragon fruit. If you're growing it indoors, the easiest way to achieve this is to place a humidifier in the area where the plant is growing, or to mist it several times per day.
- Dragon fruit prefer very well-draining soil. A standard cactus and succulent mix is the ideal planting medium when growing dragon fruit in pots.
- As a member of the cactus family, dragon fruit doesn't need to be watered very often; only water when the top inch or two of soil has dried out, and then make sure any excess water drains thoroughly.
- Dragon fruit should be fertilized once per month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
Providing Support for Dragon Fruit
As mentioned earlier, dragon fruit is a vining plant, and it needs support to grow well. There are a few ways to provide support to your plants. Supports should be installed when the plants reach twelve inches tall.
- Stake: A strong bamboo or metal stake sunk into the soil near the plant will help support it. You can gently secure the plant to the stake with twine or cut up strips of old cotton clothing.
- Trellis: A homemade or store-bought wooden or metal trellis can support the plant, and you can easily secure it to the trellis as the plant grows.
- Tomato cage: Tomato cages are an inexpensive option that does a wonderful job of keeping dragon fruit plants supported either in the garden or in containers.
Dragon Fruit Production
This is where patience comes in. It takes up to five years for a dragon fruit plant to produce flowers and fruit. But once it starts, a healthy plant can provide you with fruit for 20 to 30 years.
Pollinating Dragon Fruit
Outdoors, bees and other pollinators will ensure that pollination happens, but if you're growing dragon fruit indoors, you'll have to undertake that process yourself. It's a somewhat tricky process; the plants only bloom at night, and only last for that one single night. Pollination must take place in that small window of time.
- Once the flowers have opened, use a toothpick or chopstick to pick up pollen from the anthers (female parts of the flower).
- Transfer the pollen to the stigma (male part of the flower).
- Within one to two weeks, if pollination was successful, a small dragon fruit will begin to form.
- Dragon fruit is ready to harvest around 50 days after pollination.
Learn How to Grow Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is high in many vitamins and minerals and is delicious in smoothies and fruit salads. With a bit of care and a lot of patience, you can grow dragon fruit in your own home or garden.