Dragon fruit, also known as Pitaya, stands out among the crowd of fruits with its vibrant colour and unique shape. This exotic fruit that originated in Central America has successfully entered the global market due to its numerous health benefits and tangy taste that fits perfectly in your morning fruit bowl. Growing dragon fruit may seem a daunting task; fear not, however, because we have prepared a comprehensive guide.
Understanding Dragon Fruit: Basics
Dragon fruit belongs to the Cactaceae family, commonly known as cacti. There are mainly three types of dragon fruit; White-fleshed, Pink-fleshed, and Yellow-skinned white-fleshed. Each variant has unique characteristics and cultivation prerequisites that we must understand to grow them well.
Step 1: Choosing the Right Soil for Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruits are of desert origin, implying they prefer well-draining soil over damp and stagnant soil. A combination of garden soil, compost, and sand creates a balanced environment for the roots to expand. The layer of sand ensures adequate drainage, reducing chances of root rot, a daunting factor that impacts adversely on the health of the plant.
Step 2: Procuring the Right Planting Material
The mystery of the successful cultivation of dragon fruit lies in the selection of the right cuttings. Healthy cuttings show signs of active growth – a greenish hue and a hard outer layer. The length of the cutting ought to be 10-15 inches to ensure robust and healthy growth.
Step 3: Creating a Favourable Environment
Given their native habitat, dragon fruits flourish in full sun. However, it is essential to protect young plants from harsh sunlight, gradually acclimatizing them to a sunnier location.
Step 4: Planting the Dragon Fruit
After letting the cuttings dry for about a week, plant them at least two inches deep in the prepared soil, making sure to water regularly. The plants require a heavy watering schedule right after planting.
Step 5: Understanding the Climbing Nature
Dragon fruits are climbers by nature, which necessitates the provision of trellis or a similar arrangement for allowing them to grow tall. Healthy plants can reach up to 20 feet in height when provided with the right conditions.
Step 6: Nurturing the Dragon Fruit Plant
Dragon fruit plants require regular attention. To ensure good plant health, it’s crucial to trim back any excess growth, keep the plant moisturised, and provide sufficient nutrients. Regular pruning helps to maintain the plant in shape and encourages better fruit yield.
Step 7: Pollination and Fruit Yield
It’s interesting to note that dragon fruit flowers bloom at night and are mainly pollinated by bats or moths in their native habitats. However, growers can use a small brush to manually transfer pollen from the stamen to the pistil to ensure fruit setting.
Conclusion: The Fruit of Patience
Growing dragon fruit might be a lengthy process, but the return is fruitful, pun intended, with most plants yielding fruit by their second year. Keep patience, give your plants ample love and care, and very soon, your efforts will shine through in the beautiful, exotic, flavourful dragon fruits growing in your very own yard.