Don't ask me why dragon fruit is called dragon fruit. When I think of a dragon fruit, I imagine a tiny dragon hanging from the tail of a large tree. If dragon fruit were really like that, ASPCA would not let people eat. Dragon fruit is actually a member of the cactus or cactus family. It makes a delicious fruit and is absolutely worth growing.
I recently attended a demonstration at a local Chinese agricultural research station for pollinating and growing dragon fruits. It was very informative and useful, so I took notes and put this article together.
Propagation of dragon fruits
Dragon fruit can be started either by cuttings or by seeds. Starting with cuttings is best because they grow faster and bear fruit than seedlings. To take dragon fruit cuttings, cut a new piece of growth from a dragon fruit plant. It should be about six to eight inches long. Then cut off all three ridges at the bottom inch to expose the fibrous center.
Let the cut air dry for seven days. Do not put it in water or pour it at all during this time. When seven days are over, plant your dragon fruit in a pot or directly in the ground. It will be rooted in the ground in about half a month. If you started it in a pot first, you can transplant it into the ground after half a month. From a cutting it takes 14 months for dragon fruits to bear fruit from cuttings in tropical climates.
Dragon fruit thrives in hot, dry places. It is suitable for ridges, but can also grow deeper. It loves full sun and can't stand freezing weather.
Support methods for dragon fruit
Dragon fruit needs support to ascend. It can also climb a tree, but it is more difficult to harvest. The Chinese near us use a type of welded support column with a ring on top that allows dragon fruits to crawl through the middle and then tip over.There is also a method of pulling two parallel bars along a row of dragon fruits. The Chinese call this style an arch support.
The idea is simple to keep the dragon fruit plants accessible for care, pollination and harvest. Carl at Three Acre Paradise made a good looking prop for dragon fruits from pressure treated wood. He tells how to do it here.
You can also hire a welder or hire a welder for basic support. We have a local welder make some supports for our dragon fruit.
Pollinating dragon fruit
Dragon fruit blooms in the tropics all year round. The flowers are very large, beautiful and fragrant. The flowers only open at night from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They bear better fruit and produce bigger fruit when pollinated by hand. All you need is a brush or a Q-Tip.
Go to your dragon fruit plant anytime after 9:00 p.m. Hold the flower gently and use a Q-tip or brush to remove the pollen from the flower's anthers. Then put the pollen on the stigma. Hand pollinating dragon fruits are very simple and worthwhile, as they take the risk out of the process and ensure a good fruit set. It takes a little over a month for the fruit to be ready after pollination.
Harvest dragon fruit
Dragon fruit is ready when it is bright red and shiny. Simply pick, halve and eat inside with a spoon.
After the presentation about dragon fruits in our local Chinese research station, we received some young dragon fruit plants that we could grow ourselves. Are you going to grow dragon fruit too?
Note: In Free Plants for Everyone: The Good Guide to Plant Propagation, learn more about how to grow almost anything.