Pitaya cultivation, the fruit of the dragon in your garden
How about a dragon fruit? It may sound scary, but it is delicious and exotic, with a mild sweet taste and few calories. This is the Pitaya, also known as “dragon fruit”, a fruitful climbing cactus that can reach a height of 3 meters. It originates from Mexico and is cultivated mainly in Central America, Southeast Asia, Australia, in recent years, Europe. The juicy fruit of the dragon fruit has an impressive appearance, with an intense fuchsia color on the outside, while on the inside its flesh is white, yellow, or deep red with a characteristic fresh sour taste or sweeter depending on the variety. Dragon fruit is eaten fresh or we can make it juice! Many people compare it too prickly pears, like cactus fruit, but they are completely different plants, both in their growth and in the way they are cultivated.
What soil-climatic conditions are required for the cultivation of Pitaya?
Dragon fruit is grown and thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. It loves the sun and grows in dry environments and high temperatures, while it can not withstand frost and low temperatures. It thrives in sandy and well-drained soils, heavy soils and water retention can cause root rot. If our garden does not meet these standards, to enjoy its unique fruits we can plant it in a pot using cactus soil that has enough sand content. The dragon fruit will need support in the pot, as it grows along the ground until it finds a point to climb.
What watering and fertilizing needs does the cultivation of pitaya have?
As the Pitaya belongs to the cacti plants, it needs limited watering, the excessive amount of water can cause the flowers to fall, rot, or even the fruits to crack. Suitable watering for the dragon fruit is the watering with drops that will smoothly cover the needs of the plant. And in fertilization, the dragon fruit has limited needs. Apply organic fertilizer with a low amount of nitrogen, but enhanced with potassium once a month until the plant grows and gradually make a thinner fertilization every 2 months from spring to autumn. We avoid more frequent fertilization, which can cause problems in the plant and create susceptibility to fungal diseases.
How is dragon fruit pruned and multiplied?
The dragon fruit is pruned after the end of winter, removing the ends of the taller branches to keep it low and at the same time to encourage the plant to grow laterally. In addition, we remove dried or diseased branches to have better thinning and to strengthen its vegetation. Dragon fruit is propagated by seeds, but mainly by 20-30 cm long cuttings taken in spring. Note that if we try to create dragon fruit plants from seed, patience is required, as it will take 6-7 years for them to grow and bear fruit.
How does the dragon fruit bear fruit and when is it harvested?
The dragon fruit blooms from 3 to 6 times a year, depending on the variety, climatic conditions, and cultivation care. Its huge yellow-green flowers, 20-30 cm in size, open at night and last until the next morning. The ripe fruits are harvested from the dragon fruit about two months after the flowering of the plant.
And one last secret about the dragon fruit
Pitaya does not have a significant risk of insect infestation, it is mainly affected by fungal and bacterial diseases, mainly carbonation. To deal with them, we spray precautionarily with an ecological copper preparation.