Dragon fruit - surprisingly easy to grow this delicious fruit in pot
Dragon fruit: The name alone is mysterious and intriguing, and its appearance does not disappoint. The fruit itself looks like it’s straight out of a video game.
The fruit is not only delicious & exotic looking, but surprisingly its very easy to grow in pot.
Overview Of Dragon Fruit Cactus :
The Pitaya is more commonly referred to as the dragon fruit. It is an extremely beautiful fruit that has dazzling flowers and an intense shape and color. The dragon fruit is usually a dark red color, although some types of this fruit are pink or yellow
The skin of the dragon fruit is a thin rind. The skin is usually covered in scales, and the center of the fruit is made up of a red or white, sweet tasting pulp.
Why grow dragon fruit?
Here are some reasons why more people should grow this weird looking fruit producing cactus:
Healthy - Despite some thinking the fruit tastes bland, it is actually very good for us to eat nutritionally. Dragon fruits contain good levels of fiber, minerals, vitamins (vitamin C), and cancer fighting antioxidants.
Ornamental value - Many people collect cactus just for fun and for looking at because they are a spectacular plant genus visually. The flower this plant produces is incredible!
Different - In contrast to the rest of the garden the dragon fruit plant can be made into a great feature with its eye-catching fleshy stems. On the table, or at a dinner party the fruit do look fabulous and are a real talking point with guests.
Easy - The plant itself is very easy to grow and requires little care or water.
Taste - The taste is refreshing.
Retail - The large red dragon fruit sell for a ridiculous $5 a pop in the supermarket (in Australia).
10 Surprising Benefits Of Dragon Fruit You Never Knew
These fun-looking fruits contain around 60 calories each and are rich in vitamin C, B1, B2 and B3, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. And that’s not all. This is definitely one of the best “super fruits” out there. Some of its benefits are as follows:
Better Than Cheerios: Dragon fruit has an extremely low amount of cholesterol, which ultimately helps the body break down this fruit quickly, keeping you happy and healthy. It’s the perfect fruit to maintain your weight and satisfy your sweet tooth.
Heart Healthy: Fortunately, this fruit has an amazing superpower that helps decrease bad cholesterol levels and replenish good levels. Dragon fruit is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, helping the heart stay in great condition.
Fill Up On Fiber: To clean up your digestive system, eat a dragon fruit. They have a high fiber content, which can assist with poor digestion and constipation. Eating the flesh and seeds, which contain good protein, will keep your body fortified and satisfied.
Active Antioxidants: To rid the body of free radicals and cancer-producing properties, you can eat foods that contain antioxidants. Believe it or not, dragon fruit is giving acai berries a run for their money.
Fights Diabetes: The high amount of fiber in dragon fruit can ultimately help regulate diabetes, as it can stabilize blood sugar levels by suppressing sugar spikes. However, always consult your doctor to make sure this is a good food for you.
Reduces Signs of Aging: Eating a dragon fruit with its rich antioxidants can keep the skin tight and young. You can even make a face mask using the fruit combined with honey as a natural alternative to anti-aging masks.
Treating Colored Hair: Dragon fruit juice is an excellent agent for treating colored hair. By simply putting the juice or a conditioner containing dragon fruit on your scalp, you can protect your chemically treated or colored hair.
Suppresses Arthritis: Adding dragon fruit to your diet can help you fight these ailments. Dragon fruit’s benefits for people suffering from arthritis are so great that it’s commonly referred to as the “anti-inflammatory fruit.”
Avoiding Acne: Rich in vitamin C, this fruit becomes a great topical ointment. Turn a slice of dragon fruit into a paste and apply it to your reddened areas on your face or skin, then rinse with water. For best results, use twice daily.
Soothe Sunburned Skin: By combining dragon fruit with cucumber juice and honey, you can create a compound much like aloe that can soothe burned skin. Abundant in vitamin B3, dragon fruit can moisturize sunburned skin and release heat from the affected area.
How to grow dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit can be grown almost anywhere in the world. In very cold climates it needs to be protected or it may struggle as it grows best in a warm climate with mild winters.
It can be rather drought proof and survive harsh dry conditions; however, the plant does seem to like regular water (in good draining soil) and this helps it produce better fruit.
Soil - One thing that will kill a cactus is over watering or wet feet so ensure the soil is free draining. Being a cactus, it can survive some neglect from lack of water and even nutrients but the plant will quickly rot in heavy soil.
Fertilizer - Apply any kind of organic fertilizer once in 3-4 months. A complete commercial fertilize purchased from a garden center will do also.
Planting - Time of year for planting isn’t really a consideration. The plant is long lived and being a cactus has natural reserves to make it pretty easy as a self-establisher for getting through planting at any time.
Fruiting and flowering - Fruiting can be sporadic throughout the year with the main flowering in summer and then fruit developing into autumn and winter. A dragon fruit plant in flower is an amazing site to behold with petal span often over 8 inches across.
Pollination - You can get self-fertile plants and other plants which require cross pollination from other dragon fruit flowers. Unless you are an enthusiast, try to ensure the dragon fruit plant you buy is self-fertile!
However, if you are not sure whether your plant is self-fertile or not you can test it when your first flower comes along by hand pollinating; likewise, if your plants are having trouble setting fruit hand pollination will have to be done.
Hand pollination is a pretty simple process but remember the flower only lives for about 12 hours so timing is important! All Pitaya flowers contain male and female parts.
The anthers on the tips of the stamen are the male parts (which are typically the fluffy middle of the flower that contain pollen) and the stigma is the top of the pistil or the female part of the flower (which is usually the long pollen tube poking out from the center of the flower leading to the ovule).
To hand pollinate, use a small paint brush and rub the anthers to collect the pollen then gently dab the top of the stigma to deposit the pollen and thus fertilize the flower!
Harvesting - Before picking the fruit ensure it is fully ripe by visually checking the color has completely changed from green to red or yellow. Also, the skin should be slightly soft (like a silicon filled ball) when lightly squeezed or poked.
Propagation and positioning of dragon fruit - Because dragon fruit are a climbing plant they are best grown on a structure. Most people grow the plants on a post and secure the stem to the post as it grows with twine or some sort of material.
Plants can be started readily from seed but most people purchase a potted plant which are usually a foot or two high. Cuttings are also a very successful way to propagate dragon fruit and it’s quite common potted dragon fruit from cutting find a segment broken from the plant.
To propagate from seed is a slower way to grow a new dragon fruit plant but it’s still a good option if you can only get the fruit.
Simply, squash some of the pulp and seed onto some damp kitchen paper and keep slightly damp over a few weeks you should see some of the seeds sprouting and when they get about 1/2 inch high carefully transfer them to individual pots in good seed raising mix.
Once the plant gets about 6 inches high, it can then be planted out into where you want it to grow.