Dragon fruit planting techniques

Dragon fruit planting techniques dragon fruit tree

Dragon fruit is a fruit with a bright pink skin and white flesh. The seeds are tiny and black. Each fruit weighs between 150g and 600g, and they are often used in salads, smoothies, and fruit salads. To get ready, just cut the fruit in half and scoop out the inside.

What Is Dragon Fruit?

The dragon fruit plant is a big, climbing cactus with thick, tall branches that look like succulents. It grows bright red or yellow fruit. The sweet, juicy fruit of a dragon fruit plant is called dragon fruit, pitahaya, pitaya, strawberry pear, or cactus fruit. It can be eaten raw, chopped up and added to salads, or blended into smoothies or ice cream.

As if that wasn’t enough, pitaya plants also make some of the biggest flowers in the world. These flowers, which are sometimes called “night-blooming cereus,” are beautiful white and only bloom for one night. They give off a unique tropical scent.


There are many different kinds of pitahaya, but the most well-known ones are:

  • Hylocereus undatus: this type, which is also called Pitahaya, has bright red skin, with translucent white flesh and tiny black seeds (most popular in Australia). The fruit is 6–12 cm long and 4–9 cm wide, and its black seeds can be eaten.Climbing cactus with large, scented, night blooming flowers. Fruit weighs 1 kg or more with light melon-like taste. With triangular cross-section of its stem and minimal spines;
  • Hylocereus polyrhizus is also called “Red Pitaya,” with red skin, dark-red flesh which contains small black seeds, stems have more spines. It was first grown in Mexico, but now it is grown in many other places. Fruit weighs up to 1 kg;
  • Hylocereus costaricensis: this type is known for its pink skin and violet-red flesh. It is native to Costa Rica, so it is also called Costa Rican Pitaya. The fruit is pink, and the seeds look like little pears;
  • Hylocereus (Selenicerus) megalanthus: this type comes from South America. Smaller fruit with yellow skin and clear to white flesh containing edible black seeds, sweeter than red varieties. Contains the heart tonic captine.

So let’s talk about method & procedure for dragonfruit growing condition.

Dragon fruit planting techniques

The best weather to grow

What kind of weather is needed to grow dragonfruit? What are the climatic requirements? This fruit plant can live in bad soil and in different temperatures.  Even though dragon fruit is in the cactus family, it’s not like the cacti you usually see in the desert. In fact, dragon fruit is a subtropical cactus that comes from Central and South America and grows best in warm, humid places.

One of the most important things about these crops is that they can grow in a wide range of temperatures. Dragons can grow in bad soils, but they do best in tropical climates with 40–60 cm of rain. Pitaya plants do best when the temperature is between 20°C and 30°C. Even if you can’t grow pitahaya outside because it’s too cold or too hot, you can still grow one in a pot.

Michael Gorelov
Michael Gorelov
They grow in subtropical areas and need at least six hours of sun a day. They can also grow well indoors in a warm, sunny spot.

Soil requirement

This fruit can grow in a wide range of soils, from sandy loam to clay loam. But it grows best in sandy soils that have a lot of organic matter and good drainage. For a good crop, the ph of the soil should be between 5.5 and 6.5. The height of a bed should be at least 40 to 50 cm.

Land Preparation for growing pitahaya:

The land should be tilled until the soil is fine and free of weeds. As part of preparing the land or field, spread organic compost in the right amount.

Planting & propagating dragonfruit plants

There are two ways to grow dragon fruit. The first is to use seeds, and the second is to take a piece of the plant and plant it somewhere else. Before a plant grown from seeds is big enough to use, it takes three years. Most farmers choose to use the cutting method instead. The sapling should be 20 cm long, and it should be cut from the mother plant and put in the shade for 5–7 days before being planted in the field.

How far apart the pitahaya plants are when they are being planted depends on whether the support is vertical or horizontal. In vertical support, the space between plants should be between 2 and 3 meters. In horizontal support, the space between plants can be as little as 50 centimeters, which makes it possible to farm more closely together.

For healthy growth, the vertical support should be between 1 and 1.20 meters high, and the horizontal support should be between 1.40 and 1.60 meters wide.

How to grow from a seed

If you buy a dragonfruit at the store and plant the seeds, it’s easy to grow your own dragon fruit cactus. Be aware, though, that if you grow a dragon fruit plant from a seed, it could take up to five years before it starts to bear fruit.This is why many people who grow pitaya like to start with a cutting (which will take just one to three years to fruit).

  1. Get the ground ready. Dragon fruit needs full sun, so choose a sunny spot in your garden or a sunny windowsill that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. For the soil, choose potting soil that drains well and has a lot of organic matter. Pitahaya don’t like “wet feet,” or roots that stay wet. Don’t use cactus soil, because dragon fruits are tropical plants that need more water than other cacti and need something that holds water a little better;
  2. Get the seeds ready. Cut a ripe dragon fruit in half and use a spoon to scoop out the black seeds. Wash the seeds to get rid of the fruit flesh, then put them on a damp paper towel for at least 12 hours;
  3. Let the seeds grow. Spread the pitahaya seeds over the top of the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. It’s fine if it just barely covers the seeds; they don’t need to be planted deep;
  4. Water. Always water or mist the soil bed to keep it evenly wet. If your soil tends to dry out, cover it with plastic wrap to keep the moisture in until the seeds sprout;
  5. Get thin and move. As your pitaya seedlings continue to grow, you’ll need to thin them out to make room for each new plant. If you are growing them inside, move them to a bigger pot. For the best health, a mature dragon fruit will need at least a twenty-gallon pot that is at least twenty inches wide;
  6. Give help. Once your pitahaya plant is 12 inches tall, it will need something to hold it up so it can keep growing. Dragon fruits are climbing cacti, after all. Set up a trellis or a stick made of wood for your plant to grow up.

How to plant from cuttings

Cuttings are the most common way for dragon fruit plants to spread. It can also grow from seeds, however. But since seeds take longer and don’t have the same traits as the mother plant, this method isn’t good for commercial growing. You should get the cuttings from plants that are healthy. Cuttings that are about 20 cm long should be used to plant in the field. Two days before the potting, pile up these cuttings.

Then, these cuttings should be put in pots with a planting mixture of dry cow dung: Top dirt: as 1:1:2. Before you plant, make sure these pots are in the shade. Keep the space between plants at 2 m by 2 m. The holes should be 60 cm by 60 cm by 60 cm. The top soil and compost should be mixed with 100 grams of super phosphate and put into these holes.

In general, the process of growing a plant from a cuttings can be divided into these 8 steps:

  1. Get the ground ready. Dragon fruit needs full sun and good drainage, so choose a sunny spot in your garden or a sunny windowsill that gets at least six hours of sun a day;
  2. Take a cutting from a plant that is fully grown. Carefully cut a 12-inch branch off of an old pitaya plant with garden shears. Be careful not to cut off too much of the plant. If you cut it back too much, its growth will slow down;
  3. Make the cutting smaller. Cut the piece of pitahaya into three to five pieces. Each of these pieces can grow a new dragon fruit plant. Make sure you remember which way is “up” for each cutting. When you plant them, they need to be planted upright for them to grow correctly. You can brush some fungicide on each cutting to help keep it from getting sick, but you don’t have to;
  4. Let the cuts heal. Leave the cuts in a warm, dry place for a while so that the edges can heal. The cuttings are ready when the tips turn white, which can take anywhere from two days to a week;
  5. Plant the pieces of plant. Plant each cutting by putting the base an inch or two below the soil and pressing the soil around it to keep it secure and standing up. Make sure you plant the cutting in the same direction that the original branch was growing. The end closer to the base of the original dragon fruit plant should be planted in the soil, and the end closer to the tip of the original branch should be sticking out of the soil;
  6. Water. Always water or mist the soil bed to keep it evenly wet. In three or four weeks, you should start to see new growth and the roots getting bigger;
  7. Transplant. If you’re growing cuttings inside, move them as they grow to bigger pots or a garden bed with the right climate;
  8. Give help. Once your pitahaya plant is 12 inches tall, it will need something to hold it up so it can keep growing. Dragon fruits are climbing cacti, after all. Set up a trellis or a stick made of wood for your plant to grow up.

Growing outdoors

Growing dragon fruit in your garden is a great way to give your garden more color and personality. To get ready, get rid of any weeds and rocks in the area and make sure the soil is slightly sandy and acidic. You can always add a little more potting soil to the bed to make it safe for cacti.

An acre of land can hold about 1700 plants.

As your dragon fruit plant grows, buy it a trellis or plant it near a fence that it can climb on. Just remember that dragon fruit plants are heavy, so the trellis or fence needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of the plant when it is full of fruit.

Common nameDragon fruit, pitahaya, strawberry pear, Honolulu queen, moonlight cactus
Plant typeCactus
Mature size10–20 ft. tall, 5–10 ft. wide
Sun exposureFull sun, partial shade

Optimum elevation is 100 to 800 meters above sea level preferably with 30 percent shade to full sun as pitaya grows slowly when shaded.

How to take care

Once they are planted, pitaya don’t need much extra care:

  1. Water. To grow like they do in the subtropics, dragon fruit need moist soil. Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist and don’t let it dry out. Also, don’t water too much because that will make the soil soggy and wet, and pitaya plants don’t like “wet feet”. Drip irrigation is a good way to use water efficiently;
  2. Give help. A pitahaya plant needs some kind of support to grow up because it is a climbing cactus. It will grow well if you plant it under a trellis, next to a fence, or with a wood stake or climbing pole;
  3. Prune. Cut back any dead, dying, diseased, or overcrowded branches to keep your plant from getting sick and to make sure it grows properly on its support system. Gasoline-driven weedcutters are recommended for orchards. Handweed within the inner 30 diameter of each post to avoid damage to plants. Control weeds as they harbor pests and compete with soil nutrients;
  4. Manures and fertilizers. Organic matter is a key part of how dragon fruits grow and change. 10 to 15 kg of organic compost or organic fertilizers should be put on each plant. After that, add another 2 kg of organic fertilizer every year. For plant growth, this crop also needs inorganic fertilizers. This fertilizer ratio is as follows during the vegetative stage. Potash muriate: urea is equal to 40:90:70 grams per plant for super phosphate. Add 220 grams of fertilizer per year until you have 1.5 kg;
Michael Gorelov
Michael Gorelov
At the stage when the plant is making fruit, it should be given less nitrogen and more potash to get a higher yield. From flowering to harvesting, these inorganic fertilizers should be used at different times. Apply the following fertilizer mixtures just before the flowers bloom (in April), when the fruit is growing (July and August), and after the fruits have been picked (In Dec).
  1. Pollinate. Dragon fruit plants need moths, bats, and other night-time pollinators to help them make fruit. If you’re growing yours as an indoor house plant, you’ll need to hand-pollinate it when it blooms. To do this, swirl a clean cotton swab or paintbrush in the middle of the flower to collect pollen, then brush the pollen onto the flower’s stigma, which is a tall, branching part in the middle of the flower. Some types of pitahaya can pollinate themselves, while others need to be crossed with another plant. Check to see what kind of pitaya you have and if you need more than one plant to get fruit;
  2. Keep at temperature. Dragon fruit plants can’t handle either cold or hot weather, so make sure you can keep your plant between 32 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit — about 70 degrees is ideal. If it’s warm where you live in the summer but too cold in the winter, bring your plant inside when the weather gets cold to keep it warm.

The easiest way to kill a dragon fruit plant is to give it too much water. Make sure the soil is never drenched, and if you’re not sure whether to water or not, wait a day or two. If you water the plant too much, the roots could get moldy.

After a month of blooming, dragon fruits are ready to be picked. The fruiting season lasts until December. During this time, you can pick up these fruits up to six times. It’s easy to tell when fruit is ready to be picked because unripe fruit is bright green and will turn red when it’s ready. After 3 to 4 days, the exact time to harvest is when the color changes. But if they are going to be shipped abroad, they should be picked one day after the color change. You can pick the fruits by hand or with a sickle.

Dragon fruit usually gives a yield of 5 to 6 tonnes per acre, on average.

Pest treatment

Most of the time, pitaya plants don’t have problems with pests. However, when the prized fruit starts to grow, bats and birds will want to eat the plant. Use bird netting to keep your fruit safe.

If the plant’s stems and leaves have spots, this could be a sign that it has an infection. Dragon fruit can get an infection from bacteria that makes the stem rot. Don’t worry if you see spots on the pitahaya plant. Most of the time, the plant will fight them off on its own.

Pests and diseases attack the plant’s roots, stems, leaves, flower buds, flower, and fruit. Pests include mites, thrips, ants, scale insects, mealy bugs, beetles, slugs, borers, nematodes, fruit flies, and rodents like mice, birds, or bats. Insecticides that are made with chlorpyrifos can be used to get rid of ants and other pests.

Copper-based fungicides (copper, copper oxychloride, dithane M45, cupravit, mancozeb, etc.) can be used at the right dose and sprayed as needed. Systemic fungicides like benomyl, carbendazim, azcxystrobin, etc. are also effective against a wide range of pitaya diseases.

But don’t spray pesticides when harvest time is getting close. Fruit flies can hurt fruit, so it’s best to put green fruit in clear, perforated polyethylene bags made in China.

How to harvest

Once your dragon fruit tree starts to bear fruit, it’s easy to pick. Look for fruits that are brightly colored and whose “wings,” or flaps of skin on the outside, have started to dry out. If the fruit is ready, it will easily come off the stem if you give it a gentle twist. Don’t let the fruit fall off by itself because it will be too ripe.

The fruit needs 27 to 30 days to grow to its full size. The fruit should be picked as soon as it is ready, because if you wait even 4-5 days, it will start to go bad.

Pitahaya that hasn’t been peeled can last a few days on the counter or up to two weeks in the fridge.

If you grow a rare variety like megalanthus, the skin of the fruit will turn yellow when it is ready to eat.

Fruit is harvested from 30-50 days after flowering.

5-6 fruit crop cycles a year (between May and November) (between May and November).

Stored at 5°C with 90 percent relative humidity and can be stored for up to 40 days.

Average weight per fruit ranges from 200 to 1.2 kg.

We really hope you enjoyed our guide to making dragonfruit! 🙂


What is the best way to plant dragon fruit?
Cut a 30-cm piece of a pitaya tree and let it dry for 5–6 days, or until the end where you cut it turns white. Once it's dry, place it cut-side down in sandy cactus soil and water it once a month. In about a month, your plant will send out roots and make itself at home. It will then keep growing.
Which month is best for planting dragon fruit?
This plant grows during the hot summer months. The rest of the year, it won't grow, but when it does, it grows quickly. From July to October, flowers will bloom, but only for one night each year.
What soil is best for dragon fruit?
Pitahaya can grow on almost any type of soil, but sandy soils that drain well are usually best. For a good crop, the ph of the soil should be between 5.5 and 6.5. The height of a bed should be at least 40 to 50 cm.
How long do dragon fruit take to grow?
Plants can start to flower in as little as six to eight months, but it can take up to three-five years for plants grown in pots to bear fruit. The good news is that a plant that can bear fruit for 20 to 30 years could have four to six fruiting cycles a year once it is fully grown.
Anna Gorelova
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