Growing Dragon Fruit at Home
Dragon fruit is also known as Strawberry pear, Pitahaya, or Pitaya. It belongs to the cactus family of the type Hylocereus. It is a climbing cactus and needs support to grow. Also, it is a fast-growing crop, and the plants are able to produce for more than 20 years once established. The flowers of this plant are unique and one of the largest flowers in the world. They have a diameter of 25 cm to 30 cm long. One of the mind-blowing features of this plant is that it opens only for one night and produces a very nice and inviting fruity fragrance.
This fruit is generally grown in Asia, Mexico, Central, and South America, and according to historians; this fruit is originated in Central America. But the American Federation Education Foundation tells a completely different story. According to the “Ancient Chinese legends say that the dragon fruit was created thousands of years ago by a dragon in battle who blew a burst of fire containing the fruit”.
- Benefits of Adding dragon fruit to your daily diet
Dragon fruit is full of nutrients and vitamins, offers potentially disease-fighting antioxidants, and it is very obvious that eating dragon fruit on a regular basis can have a very positive influence on your health.
Let’s see some possible benefits that you can receive from consuming dragon fruit.
- Improves cardiovascular health
If you are looking for something to improve your cardiovascular health and a possibility to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, dragon fruit is the perfect option. The reason behind this is that the fruit has antioxidants and also it seeds that are edible provide your body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Eating the fruit helps to reduce LDL“bad” cholesterol levels. And if your cholesterol is good then it can help reduce plaque build-up in your arteries which then promotes healthy blood flow.
- Supports the Immune system
People who have weak immune systems are much more susceptible to many illnesses. The diseases can include common cold, flu, coronavirus, and such infections.
Dragon fruit contains vitamin C, which can probably boost your immune system and any time defend your body against germs, bacteria, and free radicals. Free radicals are nothing but unstable atoms in the body that can lead to damage to the cell.
- Aids your digestion
100 g of dragon fruit contains 2.9 g of fiber or in other words 11 % of the daily value. So the dietary fiber present in dragon fruit can help promote healthy digestion and gut health. On average, an adult requires 21 to 38 g of fiber per day. So, if you are in taking a sufficient amount of dietary fiber, it contributes to bowel regularity and prevents constipation.
- Promotes skin health
Eating dragon helps to reduce age spots, wrinkles, dry skin, and acne. These potential skin benefits come from the vitamin C and antioxidants that are present in the fruit. These vitamins and minerals play an important role in gradually repairing cell damage and resulting in a more youthful appearance.
There are many other health benefits also for eating dragon fruit.
Growing Dragon fruit in Pots or Container
Pots and containers are used to do organic farming at home in a garden or a rooftop. Earlier farming at home was more of a hobby but now it can transpire profitably.
There are two main methods to grow this fruit in containers. The first option and the most recommended one is a method of planting the dragon by planting dragon fruit cuttings in pots. And the second option is planting with the help of seeds.
The second option is not recommended because of two main reasons i.e.
- It will take a very long time to produce fruits. And by long time I mean up to 6 years whereas the cutting requires one or maximum of two years.
- Germination of seed and transplanting can be a difficult process for beginners.
Here, I will tell you how to grow dragon fruits using the first method i.e. cutting method.
The process to cut the dragon plant stem is mentioned below step by step:
- Search a plant that is at least one year old and then cut a 6-15 inch (12-38 cm) stem from that parent plant at an angle. After that, dip the end of the dragon fruit and cut it into a fungicide. Let that cut heal within a week and place that away from the sunlight before planting it in a container.
- Use a container that is sufficient to support the entire plant and will not be heavy on the top. Also, the container should have holes for effective drainage.
Choosing the pot or the container
The pot you choose should be 20 – 24 inches deep and must be 25- 30 gallons so that it must be able to hold a mature dragon fruit.
Essential parts of container/pot:
- The pot should be deep and wide, just enough for roots to grow and spread.
- Must be able to hold enough soil like at least 25 gallons.
- It should have a great drainage system.
- The pot should be durable.
Climate and weather required
To grow well, warm weather is preferred for dragon fruit. The most preferable region for growing the dragon fruit outdoors, all year round is USDA Zone 10/11 as it is the warmest in the entire US. For winters, you can grow the plant in a greenhouse.
Dragon fruit is termed as the “fruit of all seasons”. The reason behind this is that plants can bear fruits from summer to late fall every year. The fruit can be grown in any season whether during the springs or freezing winters.
Preparing soil mix
The plant can grow very well in any well-drained soil, but slightly acidic (6-7 pH) soil is preferred. For growing the dragon fruit, the cactus mix is a recommended soil.
Cactus mix can be made at home by mixing sand/ perlite, organic manure, and compost in the ratio 2:3:1:1.
Make sure that after you fill the container up with a well-draining potting mix that has organic materials in it, the potting mixture should be able to siphon well, or else the fruit will eventually rot and die.
After all these steps, the pot is ready. Just the plantation is needed to be done. For that let’s see the further steps.
Planting a tree is always the fun part. So after completing the soil mix, make sure to add some water into it and then wait for some time. When the soil has consumed the water properly, it is ready to be planted.
While waiting for the soil to penetrate the water, apply a wet fungicide solution on top of the root. In the center of the pot, dig a hole at least 2 to 3 inches deep. In that hole, place the fruit cutting and pack the soil firmly around it. You just have to be sure that plant cutting is long enough so that it can try to stand on its own as much as possible.
The plant of dragon fruit yields fruit from early summer to earlier mid-fall (like for around 5 months) every year.
How to know it’s the correct time to harvest?
- The fruit should have turned into an oval shape and is almost 10 – 15 cm long.
- In an appropriate climate, the plant can bear fruit multiple times in the harvesting period i.e. summer until late fall. To know the fruit is going to be ready soon, the flower starts blossoming.
- This happens after 1-2 years it was planted. To know that it is time to harvest, you can see the color of the fruit changes from bright green to pink or red.
- After 30 to 50 days after planting, the fruit will be ready to harvest.
Growing this fruit is very profitable even if it is your hobby or not. Remember to water it regularly as it is a very important part of the growth of dragon fruit. Also save your plant from pests like aphids, ants, and other such insects. To keep them away, apply organic neem oil on a regular basis.