Dragon fruit trees are not your average fruit tree. They’re not trees at all. Dragon fruit plants are cacti that grow in tropical climates. These unusual-looking fruits are becoming increasingly popular in the US as people learn about their nutritional benefits and unique flavor.
If you’re thinking about adding a dragon fruit tree to your home garden, you should know a few things first. In this article, we’ll give you a crash course on everything you need to know about dragon fruit trees, including how to care for them and harvest them.
What is a Dragon Fruit Tree?
A dragon fruit tree is a cactus that grows in tropical climates. The scientific name for dragon fruit is Hylocereus undatus. It’s a member of the night-blooming cactus family, which also includes the more familiar saguaro cactus.
Dragon fruit trees are native to Central America, but they’re now grown in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, including Vietnam, Thailand, Israel, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The most distinguishing feature of dragon fruit plants is their flowers. Dragon fruit flowers only open at night, and they’re incredibly fragrant. They’re pollinated by nocturnal insects, such as moths and bats.
After the flowers bloom, they produce a fleshy fruit called a pitaya or a strawberry pear. Dragon fruit can be white, yellow, or pink on the outside and have small black seeds on the inside.
Dragon fruits are not only beautiful, but they’re also healthy. They’re a good source of fiber, vitamins C and B1, and antioxidants. They’re also low in calories and have a high water content, which makes them a refreshing and hydrating snack.
How to Grow Dragon Fruit Trees?
You can grow dragon fruit trees outdoors year-round if you live in a tropical or subtropical climate. If you live in a temperate climate, you can grow dragon fruit trees indoors or in pots that can be brought inside during the winter.
Dragon fruit trees need full sun to produce fruits, so plant them in your yard that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. They also prefer well-drained soil with a neutral pH. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, you can improve its drainage by mixing in some sand.
Before planting your dragon fruit tree, it’s a good idea to test the soil to see what nutrients it’s lacking. A simple soil test kit can be purchased at your local nursery or home improvement store. Once you know what nutrients your soil lacks, you can add them with organic compost or fertilizer.
Dragon fruit trees are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for. They don’t need to be pruned or shaped and don’t require much water. Dragon fruit plants are drought-tolerant and can go several weeks without being watered.
One thing to remember is that dragon fruit plants are susceptible to root rot, so it’s important not to overwater them. When you water your dragon fruit tree, ensure to water the base of the plant, not the leaves or fruits.
Another thing to note is that dragon fruit plants can be damaged by frost, so if you live in a climate with cold winters, it’s important to bring your plant indoors or protect it with a frost blanket when the temperature starts to drop.
Dragon fruit trees can be propagated from cuttings or seeds, but it’s easier to propagate them from cuttings. Cut a 3-4 inch piece off of a healthy dragon fruit plant and remove the bottom leaves to take a cutting.
Place the cutting in a pot of well-drained soil and water it regularly, making sure not to overwater it. In 6-8 weeks, you should see new growth sprouting from the cutting. At this point, you can begin watering your plant less frequently.
If you decide to grow your dragon fruit tree from seed, it will take longer to produce fruit. Dragon fruit seeds can be purchased online or at your local nursery.
To plant the seeds, place them in a pot of well-drained soil and water them regularly. It can take 6-12 months for the seeds to germinate, so be patient. Once the seedlings have sprouted, you can begin watering them less frequently.
Here are some additional tips for growing Dragon fruit :
Dragon fruit trees should be watered deeply and regularly, especially when they’re first getting established. Once your tree is established, you can cut back on watering somewhat, but keep an eye on the soil and ensure it’s not too dry. Dragon fruit trees prefer well-drained soil, so if your soil is particularly heavy or clay-like, you may need to water more often.
Dragon fruit trees don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but a little bit can go a long way. Use a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 and apply it around the tree’s base once every two months. You can also use compost or manure to fertilize your dragon fruit tree.
Pruning is important for dragon fruit trees because it helps encourage new growth and keeps them healthy. It would be best to prune your dragon fruit tree in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cut off any dead or diseased branches, as well as any branches that are crossing or rubbing together. You can also prune to shape your tree if you like.
Dragon fruit trees typically begin bearing fruit after 3-4 years. Depending on the variety of dragon fruit, the fruits will be ready to harvest anywhere from 4-6 months after they bloom.
To tell when a dragon fruit is ripe, gently press on it with your thumb. If it gives slightly to the pressure, it’s ready to be picked. If it feels soft or mushy, it’s overripe and should be left on the plant.
To harvest a dragon fruit, cut it off the stem with a sharp knife. Be careful not to damage the stem, as this can encourage rot.
Once you’ve harvested your dragon fruit, you can eat it fresh or use it in recipes. Dragon fruit is often used in smoothies or as a topping for yogurt or ice cream. It can also be made into jam or jelly.
How to Store fresh-grown Dragon Fruit?
The best way to store dragon fruit is in the refrigerator. Place the fruits in a plastic bag and store them in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Dragon fruit can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you’re not planning on eating your dragon fruit right away, you can freeze it. Cut the fruit into small pieces and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze the fruit for 3-4 hours or until solid.
Once frozen, transfer the dragon fruit pieces to a freezer-safe container or bag. Frozen dragon fruit can be stored for up to 6 months.
Dragon fruit can also be dried. Cut the fruit into small pieces and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in a dehydrator set to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and dry the fruit for 8-12 hours or until completely dehydrated.
Once dried, dragon fruit can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.
Uses for Dragon Fruit:
There are many different ways to use dragon fruit. It can be eaten fresh, frozen, or dried. It can also be used in smoothies, yogurt, or ice cream. Dragon fruit can also be made into jam or jelly.
Dragon fruit can also be used for its nutritional value. It’s a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. It can also help boost your immune system and improve digestion.
Dragon fruit is safe for most people to eat. However, there are a few potential risks to be aware of.
Dragon fruit may cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you’re allergic to other fruits, such as kiwi or figs, you may also be allergic to dragon fruit.
If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating dragon fruit, such as hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.
Dragon fruit may also interact with certain medications. If you’re taking any medications, it’s always best to speak with your doctor before eating dragon fruit.
The Bottom Line: Is Dragon Fruit Good For You?
Yes, dragon fruit is good for you. It’s a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. It can also help boost your immune system and improve digestion. Dragon fruit is safe for most people to eat, but there are a few potential risks. If you’re allergic to other fruits or taking any medications, it’s always best to speak with your doctor before eating dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit is a delicious and healthy option for those looking for a nutritious snack or addition to their diet. While dragon fruit may have some potential risks, these are typically associated with allergies or interactions with medications. For most people, dragon fruit is safe and healthy.