How to grow & care for Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit grows on a climbing cactus that produces stunning white flowers in summer. These flowers develop into pink or yellow-skinned fruits with either white or deep pink flesh in autumn.
As a climbing cactus, the dragon fruit plant will need a support structure, wire cage or trellis. This tropical fruit loves a warm to hot and humid climate, with mild winters and no frost. If you live in a cooler climate try growing dragon fruit in pots that can be placed in a glasshouse or similar for winter frost protection.
Dragon fruit can easily be grown in a full sun spot - either in the ground or in pots from seeds, cuttings or potted plants.
Top 5 steps to growing Dragon fruit
- Choose a full sun spot with a free draining soil or grow in a large pot
- Dragon fruit plants will require a support to grow, wire cages or trellis structures are ideal
- Improve the soil before planting with Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver and Scotts Performance Naturals™ All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser
- Even though dragon fruit has succulent like foliage, it will still need regular watering while fruiting.
- Fruit will not ripen off the plant, so pick once completely ripe - the fruit will have a bit of give in it when squeezed and the winged ‘scales’ on the outside of the fruit will have started to wither.
- Dragon fruit seeds, a cutting or potted plant
- Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver
- Scotts Performance Naturals™ All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser
- Garden trowel
- If growing in containers you’ll need a large pot or planter plus Scotts Osmocote® Cacti & Succulent Mix if growing in a pot
- If growing from seeds or cuttings you’ll need Scotts Osmocote Seed & Cutting Potting Mix
- Defender™ Pyrethrum Insect Spray
Choose a full sun spot and have the support structure installed before you plant to avoid disturbing roots later on. If you live in a frost prone area try growing dragon fruit in pots that can be moved indoors over winter or into a glasshouse for warmth.
If prepping to plant a rooted dragon fruit, dig the hole twice as wide as the original pot and the same depth. Loosen the original soil at the bottom of the planting hole and mix Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver and Scotts Performance Naturals™ All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser through the backfill soil and the soil at the base of the hole.
Dragon fruit need a free draining, sandy soil - consider growing on a mound or in a planting ring to improve drainage as excess water around the roots will cause them to rot.
Growing from seeds
Dragon fruit seeds should be sown 5mm deep into pots filled with Scotts Osmocote Seed & Cutting Potting Mix. Lightly cover the seeds and keep them moist while the germinate. Germination can take up to 2 weeks.
Once seedlings emerge, reduce watering and allow them to dry out between waterings. Plant established and rooted seedlings into prepared soil.
Dragon fruit grown from seeds can take 5-7 years to produce fruit. So be patient!
Growing from cuttings
Get a 30cm long cutting from an established dragon fruit plant and allow the cut end to callous over or heal. Once the cut is completed dry, stick the cut end of the cutting into a pot filled with Scotts Osmocote® Cacti & Succulent Mix. Once the roots fill this pot it can be planted into prepared soil or a larger pot.
Planting in the garden
Plant dragon fruit into prepared soil, at the base of your support structure. If growing more than one dragon fruit, plant them 2 metres apart.
Water young dragon fruit plants in to establish them, once they’ve settled into their new home they are relatively drought tolerant. Feed in spring and again in summer with Scotts Performance Naturals™ All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliserat the recommended rate.
Planting in pots
Choose a pot that is at least 30cm deep by 60cm wide - a wider pot will help prevent it from tipping over. Fill the pot with Scotts Osmocote® Cacti & Succulent Mix - remove the dragon fruit plant from the nursery pot and place in the centre of the pot, back fill around the root ball and water it in well.
At the time of planting add a support structure or wire cage to support the plant as it grows. Feed in spring and summer with Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser at the recommended rate.
About 4-6 weeks after flowering, dragon fruit will begin to form. They are ready to harvest when the fruit gives a little when pressed, the skin is brightly coloured and the scales on the outside of the skin have started to wither.
Dragon fruit will not ripen off the plant, so they should be picked when ripe. Once picked they can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Pests & Diseases
Protect your dragon fruit harvest from hungry birds and wildlife by using wildlife safe netting over the whole plant or individual net bags tied around each fruit.
Caterpillars can also attack dragon fruit - pick them off by hand if they aren’t in huge populations but it their numbers get out of control spray with Defender™ Pyrethrum Insect Spray. Aphids, mites or scale can also be controlled with this spray.