Growing Dragon Fruit

Pitaya grove
Pitaya grove

When I moved to my house, there was a double clothes-line on the side, strung between 4” X 4” wooden posts ending in a T on the tops. I decided to keep the two posts for the express purpose of using them to grow climbing plants:  Pitaya on one post and Passion Fruit on the other. Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) is a climbing cactus, native to Central America. It can be propagated by cutting a piece (approximately a foot long) off of an existing plant and either rooting it in water or in potting mix. It prefers sandy, well-drained soil. Since I had never cultivated Pitaya, I drove over to Pine Island Nursery, a commercial grower in Miami, to see how they do it.

Several cacti are planted around a support and tied loosely against it as they climb up the post. There is a circular support on the top of each post that the Pitaya branches hang over. Since Pitaya has aerial roots that attach themselves all around the post, a sprinkler is placed on top of the post so all the roots get wet, not just the ones in the ground. Dragon Fruit can also be grown successfully in containers; Pine Island has a large number growing in planters as well as in the ground.

I have three cuttings that I received from a couple of different people. The two older cuttings, which I had planted 7 months ago, have already reached the top of my clothes-line post. The third cutting was planted 4 months ago and is still small. Pitaya can begin bearing fruit in as little as two years so I still have a ways to go before I’m eating home-grown Dragon Fruit.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

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