The dragon fruit is a cactus known for its sweet, custard-like fruit and crunchy seeds. The dragon fruit name refers to both the fruit and the plant. The plant also goes by other names such as pitaya and strawberry pear. The plant blooms only at night and is pollinated by bats and moths.
Video of the Day
USDA Hardiness Zones
Dragon fruit grow well in tropical and subtropical climates, USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, but grow outdoors in zone 9 with protection during occasional freezing weather. They do not rely on climatic conditions for ripening, so they can be grown in other areas in greenhouses or with protection from the cold. They are currently grown in tropical and subtropical areas of the United States, including South Florida, California and Hawaii.
Dragon fruit grow well in warm weather, but are vulnerable to extreme heat and sun. Ideal temperatures for growth are between 65 degrees and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures over 100 degrees are excessive and damage the plant. Dragon fruit like full sun, but they do fine with some shade. Extreme sun combined with low humidity or high altitude can sunburn the stems and cause severe damage, especially when the plants are young. Protect the plants with 30 percent shading during the first three or four months.
Dragon fruit quickly recover from a light frost, but sustained freezing temperatures damage the plant. The fruit are susceptible to chilling injury below 40 degrees.
Dragon fruit are moderately to highly tolerant of salt in the soil. They prefer a rich, mildly acidic to neutral soil, pH 6.1 to 7.5.
Wind and Rain
Dragon fruit need support for their heavy stems. They can be damaged by strong wind conditions that compromise the support structure. They need 25 to 50 inches of rain or irrigation each year, with irrigation twice a week during fruiting. They are prone to flower drop and root rot in excessively wet conditions.
Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and Web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.