A neighbor down the street has a Dragon Fruit cactus (Pitaya) growing against the Oak tree in front of his house. One afternoon, as I was driving by his home, I saw him outside watering the Pitaya and pulled over to introduce myself and “talk plant”. This is what plant enthusiasts do. Even if you don’t know someone, if you start talking plant, you will soon become friends. I was very interested in growing Pittaya because I had eaten the fruit in Vietnam and liked the taste. In fact, I had already begun growing a couple of Dragon Fruit plants from cuttings, but my cacti were still too young to bare fruit. Steve, my neighbor and new friend, told me that he had great success with the Dragon Fruit he had planted against the Oak in the front and other varieties he had planted elsewhere. “The best varieties are in the back yard” he said, “I don’t want people seeing them and taking the fruit.” Steve then proceeded to explain how he went out to his yard at night–since Pitaya only blooms in the evening–and would hand-pollinate the flowers so that he was assured of a good crop of fruit. Wow, this guy is a fanatic! How do you even do this pollinating thing?! I pictured him approaching the plants in the dark, with a headlamp or night-vision goggles on, then performing this complicated thing on the unsuspecting flowers. Or maybe his wife was his partner-in-crime, holding a flashlight while he did THE PROCEDURE… These people are experts. I’ll never do anything so extreme. My plants better figure out how to pollinate themselves!
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