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What Are the Best Tips for Planting Dragon Fruit?

By C. Mitchell
Updated: Feb 13, 2024

The best tips for planting dragon fruit cover three main areas: controlling temperature and location, choosing the best style of propagation, and engineering the plant's proximity to other related shrubs. Dragon fruit plants, known scientifically as Hylocereus and called pitaya or pithaya in many parts of the world, are in the cactus family, and grow best in dry, arid environments. They can grow either from a seed or a cutting, and a single plant can produce many offspring. None will bear fruit unless fertilized by a second specimen, however. Planting dragon fruit with the hopes of actually producing fruit usually requires at least basic fertilization planning.

Dragon fruit plants are native to Mexico and pars of Central America, but have been cultivated successfully in many tropical and sub-tropical environments, particularly those in Southeast Asia. The shrubs do best in warmer climates, but are relatively tolerant to temperature shifts and changes. When planting dragon fruit, it is important to look for somewhere in full sunlight, keeping in mind any local temperature shifts. Pitaya does not do well in freezing temperatures, but neither does it like sustained, intense heat. In extreme climates, gardeners often have the greatest success growing the plant in a movable container, such that it can be brought indoors or moved to shade as needed.

Like most members of the cactus family, the dragon fruit can reproduce in two ways: through seeds and through offshoots from cuttings. Deciding which method to use is largely a matter of preference, but can also be a question of time. Planting dragon fruit seedlings is often much more intensive and prone to failure than is simply snipping off a branch and starting a new plant from there.

Seeds come from the inside of the dragon fruit itself, which is a red, sometimes pink fleshy orb that grows from the plant’s flowers. This tropical fruit is edible, and is popular both raw and cooked in the cuisines of many different cultures. Growing dragon fruit plants from seeds usually requires careful washing, temperature control to ensure germination, then tending and planting in moist soil.

An easier way to plant pitaya is to simply break or cut a bit of an existing plant. Separated branches do not wither, but rather sprout their own roots in search of new soil. Rooting happens fastest when the broken branch is planted directly in the ground, but roots will form even from a branch sitting out alone.

Many different dragon fruit plants can be propagated from a single host using the cutting and re-growth method. Under optimal conditions, the new plants will quickly take root and grow in most environments. Unless they are near to other dragon fruit plants, however, they are not likely to bear fruit.

Pitaya cannot reproduce asexually. Plants grown from seeds or offshoots are genetically related to, if not identical to, their parent, which means that they will not be able to breed with each other. Fruits result from self-pollination or the pollination of the plant’s flowers, which open only at night and must be close enough to other distinct plants for bees, night moths, or even evening breezes to cross-pollinate them. Planting dragon fruit with a harvest in mind usually requires use of at least two different specimen, and a planting structure that posits them close together.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon982767 — On Dec 23, 2014

This is what I have heard as well, that some dragon fruit plants are indeed self fertile. My dragon fruit plant is several months old and it being the winter time, I thought my dragon fruit plant wouldn't grow as much. Boy, was I ever wrong! It doesn't grow as fast as it did in the summer time. but I'm noticing it still grows at least an inch every day or two, which is amazing considering the fact that it gets less than half the sun it did during the summer time.

I keep the dirt moist but not overly damp and it seems to be pretty happy. Also, I don't water it nearly as much during the winter time as well. The main stem for my plant is over three feet tall and I'm sure come summer time the main stem will be 4 or 5 feet tall easily.

I would like to get fruit in another year or two with the right conditions. Overall, I really like this plant. Just keep in mind this plant can easily become a monster! I just put a tomato cage in the pot about a week ago, and already it is almost the size of the tomato cage. This is my favorite plant by far!

By anon931134 — On Feb 07, 2014

Which fertilizer should I use in my dragon fruit farm during fruit season?

By anon350810 — On Oct 08, 2013

The part about not bearing fruit unless fertilized by a second specimen is not exactly true. Many types do require another plants pollen to set fruit (self sterile).

However, there are many named varieties that will indeed set fruit on their own. (self fertile) You would be wasting time growing cuttings that are not self fertile if you want fruit.

By anon311235 — On Dec 30, 2012

From cuttings, it take about 18 months to produce fruit and you'll get about 220 pounds per plant. The plant must reach 10 pounds before it will produce and lives 20 years.

By anon290367 — On Sep 09, 2012

How many years will it take for dragon fruits to bear first fruits?

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