I love Pitaya! It is such a cool-looking cactus fruit. Commonly called, Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya, the Pitaya is grown all over the world in tropical and subtropical regions. It also can be grown in the desert in places like Arizona with some care. In this post, I will show you how to grow dragon fruit plants or pitaya from cuttings.
If you love to garden and want to try growing a cool cactus, learn how to grow pitaya! The dragon fruit cactus plant will be a great addition to your garden. Let’s get started!
Pitaya or Dragon Fruit Information
The hylocereus undatus or selenicereus undatus or The Pitaya (dragon fruit or strawberry pear the common names) is a tropical fruit that is cultivated all over the world, in particular, in Mexico, Central America and South America, Southeast Asia, India, the Caribbean, Australia, and other tropical and subtropical humid climates around the world.
Vietnam, Indonesia, and China grow the most dragon fruit out of any other country. In fact, in 2018, Vietnam accounted for 50% of the global pitaya or dragon fruit production.
The dragon fruit even grows well in places in the United States, like California, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and other southern states. USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 are ideal areas. But zone 9 can get cold to where you need to protect them from frost or bring them inside if in a pot. In a bit colder areas they will grow in warmer greenhouses or inside like a sunroom.
Pitayas love the sun and warmth, but not super hot, and not very cold. They can survive a few temps below freezing once in a while, but not sustained freezing temperatures.
Want to know how the dragon fruit taste? I have two posts on how to eat them and how they taste. Check out this yellow dragon fruit taste test and this pink dragon fruit taste test to find out more about how to eat them and what they taste like. Common uses for the bright white flesh are to eat them plain or put them in fruit salads.
How to grow pitaya from cuttings
There is no dragon fruit tree. Dragon fruits grow on a climbing cactus. While pitaya can be grown from seed, this post focuses on how to grow pitaya or dragon fruit from a cutting.
To grow the pitaya from a cutting, first, you need a dragon fruit cutting. They are easy to prune off the main plant because they grow in segments.
Cut a segment at the stem/woody part that connects to another part of the pitaya. Sometimes the cut end has a harder time sprouting roots, so you may want to snip it off. If you do, let the cutting sit out in the shade for about a week, so it can scab over.
Take some rooting powder and sprinkle it on the base of the cutting. In the above image, I didn’t snip any off of the bottom. I recommend planting a few, some with the end snipped off and some without.
NOTE: Rooting powder is not necessary but it definitely helps it along. Try a few with the rooting powder and a few without.
Fill up the pot with good well-drained soil
Take a medium pot to a large pot and fill it up with good draining sandy soil. The Dragon fruit loves good drainage. Try and make the soil mildly acidic as well. If you like, you can add some earthworm castings to the soil for extra nutrients.
Then stick the pitaya cutting directly in the soil about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. Water the soil well. The roots should develop in a week or two. And you will have your very own dragon fruit plant.
The dragon fruit cuttings should stay green. Don’t overwater, however. Dip your finger in the soil, and if it is dry two inches down, give it some more water.
Pitaya plants grow well in pots for a few years, but eventually, you may want to plant them in the ground. You can prune them as well, to get more cuttings to plant, or so it grows the way you want it to.
Dragon fruit cactus plants are vining or climbing cactus. You will need a trellis or pole or some other support structure for it to grow up. As it gets longer loosely tie the cactus vine to your pole.
Depending on where you live you may need to plant them in partial shade. I live in the very hot Phoenix area. This pitaya cutting after it was rooted was planted on the west side of the house which had lots of shade cover. It gets sunlight, but not too much direct sunlight. It is very protected during the harsh summers and extreme heat.
If you live somewhere like California, planting them with full sun or direct sunlight, shouldn’t be a problem. The pitaya cuttings grow much quicker than growing dragon fruit from seeds. Some people have been able to get edible fruit after only the first year of growth. The speed of growth will depend on where you live.
When the cactus matures and eventually flowers they may or may not be self-pollinating. If you have lots of bees around then don’t worry about it. Or you can just pollinate the flowers with hand pollination with a small paintbrush. And hopefully, the fruit will grow from that. Allow the fruits to grow until very bright in color and have a slight give to them. Then you can pick them. Usually, they are ripe about a month after flowering.
Time to grow your own pitaya from cuttings. Enjoy!
Can I grow dragon fruit from seeds?
Yes, you sure can grow pitaya or dragon fruit from seeds. If you want to try and plant dragon fruit seeds first cut the fruit in half and dig out the white flesh. Remove and rinse the seeds. Dry out the tiny black seeds from the fruit, then place them on a damp paper towel.
Fold over the moist paper towel and place it near a window for a week or so to sprout. Once sprouted put them in a small pot with a good seed starter or cactus soil mix. Cover the pots with a plastic bag which will create a greenhouse effect. You can also skip trying to sprout them in the bag and place them straight in the soil in the pot.
As the young plants mature you will want to transplant them into a larger pot.
In general dragon fruit cacti are fairly easy to grow with the right climate and proper care. In harsher climates, you can still grow them but they will take more specialty care.
How to grow Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) from Cuttings Video
Watch this video I made on how to grow Dragon fruit from cuttings.
One dragon fruit cutting made it and is alive and thriving in my parent’s yard. I made the mistake one year and didn’t move the post to the other side of my yard during the summer and torched the other ones. Sad day.
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