Dragon fruit flower, also called Pitaya [pit-EYE-ah], is an exotic fruit cactus with colorful leaves, flowers, and fruits.
Pitaya typically refers to the fruit of a genus columnar – Stenocereus which has a prominent exterior with scaly spikes.
The fruiting cactus is native to various regions of Central America and South America and is cultivated in Colombia, Florida, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Thailand, and tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
Dragon fruit flowers have a few common names as follows:
- Red Pitahaya
- Strawberry Pear
- Hylocereus undatus
- Night Blooming Cereus
- Belle of the Night
- Conderella Plant
Dragon Fruit Flower Care
Size and Growth
Dragon fruit flowers are a medium to fast-growing plant, an astonishing feature for a cactus.
They grow an inch per day and produce fruits in an upright position.
To maintain its balance, the plant needs additional care and support from the beginning.
The climbing cactus is one of the largest cacti in the world, heightening up to 20’ feet tall.
The new dragon fruit plant blooms at night, showcasing its lovely fruits and flowers.
The dragon plant bears tropical fruits resembling (papaya, watermelon, prickly pear, and kiwi fruits) for approximately five months from early summer to mid-fall.
Flowering and Fragrance
As stated above, dragon fruit cactus bloom during the night and hence called the queen of the night.
It opens up at dusk and stays abloom till midnight.
Before flowering, the flower buds can grow up to 10″ inches long.
Flowering begins in summer, usually at the beginning of June, soon followed by the formation of fruits.
It takes at least 13 days for the flowers to form and 50 days for the fruits to become mature.
Under ideal conditions, the flower exudes a sweet, pleasant aroma of citrus zest and musty wood in late spring.
When it comes to pollination some varieties are self-fertile but cross-pollinating with other plants will produce better fruits.
Another option is to hand pollinate from each stamen.
The fruits depending on variety will have white flesh or red flesh and the red variety fruit have the sweetest taste.
Light and Temperature
- These pitaya plants enjoy full sun or part shade for the proper growth.
- Too much shade often leads to the death of the fruits as pests like fungi, bacteria, and insects consume them.
- Red Dragon fruits don’t do well in cold weather conditions.
- Make sure the temperature is above 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C), at a minimum.
- For the best result, the temperature should be between 65° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 27° C).
- The USDA hardiness zone of the plant is 9 to 11.
Watering and Feeding
- Since the dragon fruit vine is a succulent, its water requirements are moderate to low.
- Water the cactus when needed to not allow the soil to dry out.
- Keep in mind – the soil should be moist, not soggy.
- Don’t allow the water to sit for long.
- To grow dragon fruit healthy and happy, apply some fertilizer once a month.
- This should be done during the growing season of the plant.
- In winter, avoid feeding the plant until the end of the season.
Soil and Transplanting
The dragon fruit flower grows best in all types of soil.
However, the soil has to be moist and well-drained.
Ideally, the cactus plant prefers sandy or slightly acidic soil with a pH level from 6 to 7.
If either of the soil is not available, ensure the soil is well-draining.
When transplanting, water the soil a day before to prepare the ground for a smooth transfer.
Dig a new hole 3 to 4 times as wide as a root ball.
Water the new hole to reduce transplant shock.
Dig deep and cut the root ball gently, making sure to cut all the remaining roots.
Transfer the plant to the new hole.
When transplanting, make sure to keep the joints from bending.
If they get damaged in the process, they won’t survive for long.
Grooming and Maintenance
Even though the dragon fruit cactus enjoys being in the sun, its overexposure may damage the fruit.
Therefore, in the scorching summer heat, place the plant in a slightly sheltered spot.
Regularly trim dead leaves to ensure the healthy development of the plant.
How to Propagate Pitaya Plants
- Propagation of dragon fruit flowers is done from the black seeds and cuttings.
- However, cuttings are a more popular method to propagate this cactus species.
- Take a small cutting from the parent plant, making sure it is at least a foot long.
- Avoid cutting too much as it will stunt the growth of the actively-growing plant.
- Apply fungicide to the ends of the cutting and let it sit for several days to dry.
- This helps promote the growth of the plant.
- After the cutting turns white, place it into 2” inches of moist soil.
- Soon the fresh growth will come into sight.
- Provide a trellis for your new plant.
Pitaya Pests and Diseases
Dragon fruit flowers are susceptible to sap-sucking insects like aphids and succulent mealybugs.
Thrips and mites are also infamous for hindering the plant’s growth.
Dragon fruit plants also suffer from stem rooting, sunburn bark, and anthracnose (a fungal disease).
Dragon Fruit Flower Uses
The exotic fruit of the dragon cactus has several health benefits.
The fruit helps boost the immune system, treat heart diseases, and improve the digestive system.
The fruit is packed with vitamins, vitamin C in particular, which helps keep the body system healthy.
Apart from these health benefits, the splendid plant is known for its ornamental uses too.
With its silvery-green cactus and reddish-pink fruit, the plant looks strikingly beautiful in a yard.