How to Grow Dragon Fruit from Seed

How to Grow Dragon Fruit from Seed Effectively : Best Method

Hello Growers! Are you interested in the cultivation of dragon fruit from the seed? If yes, this article is for you: “From Seed to Harvest: A Comprehensive Article on Dragon Fruit Cultivation.” “How to grow dragon fruit from seed”. Let us delve into the article to address the nutritional values, health benefits, and growing demand for dragon fruit in the market. Additionally, this article provides a comprehensive overview of the importance of dragon fruit and the crucial steps to be followed in cultivating dragon fruit from seed.

The dragon fruit is a large climbing cactus plant with succulent branches that produce red or yellow fruits. The dragon fruit plant produces a fruit known as dragon fruit, pitaya, pitahaya, or strawberry pear. Dragon fruit is rich, juicy, and sweet; it can be eaten raw, cut into salads, or blended to make smoothies or ice cream. Dragon fruit trees also produce some of the world’s largest blooms, known as “night-blooming cereus,” which appear for only one night as magnificent white flowers.

Dragon fruit, despite being a cactus, performs poorly in extreme temperatures and cannot endure bright light. Dragon fruit requires a warm atmosphere; thus, it flourishes well in semi-arid areas. For optimal growth, temperatures between 18-25°C with high relative humidity are recommended. In this, we are going to learn how to grow dragon fruit from seed.

Dragon fruit is a lucrative plant with amazing health benefits. It is still a new introduction to India, and much experimentation is underway at institutes and the farmer’s field level. While dragon fruit was a famous fruit in countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand, it recently gained prominence in India. Indians have now started consuming these fruits for a wide range of health benefits. Hence, consumer demand is also growing in India.

People are consuming it as a fruit, making jams, and preparing ice cream with this fruit. The fruit is not excessively sweet; it has wide health benefits too. It is in great demand in the food industry because of its hydration properties, Dragon fruit is now even used in cosmetics and skincare, especially for face masks and face packs. The fruit has a great market value, where the cost of one piece of dragon fruit is around 70–80 rupees.

          NutrientAmount per 100g
Water87g
Protein1.1g
Fat0.4g
Carbohydrates11g
Fiber3g
Vitamin B10.04g
Vitamin B20.05g
Vitamin B30.16g
Vitamin C20.5g
Nutritional Benefits of Dragon Fruit

There are three varieties of dragon fruits that home gardeners grow:

Hyalocerus undatus:

This dragon fruit is native to Central and South America and has gained popularity worldwide for its unique appearance, refreshing taste, and potential health benefits.

Hyalocerus undatus: White Dragon Fruit|How to Grow Dragon Fruit from Seed
Hyalocerus undatus: White Dragon Fruit | Picture Credit : Peppyflora

Hyalocereus megalanthus:

This, also called pitaya amarilla or yellow pitaya, has yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.

Hyalocereus megalanthus: Yellow Dragon Fruit |How to grow dragon fruit from seed
Hyalocereus megalanthus: Yellow Dragon Fruit |Picture credit: Etsy

3. Hyalocereus costraricensis: This also called pitaya roja or red-fleshed pitaya, is a red-skinned fruit with red flesh.

Hyalocereus costraricensis |How to grow dragon fruit from seed
Hyalocereus costraricensis : Red Dragon Fruit | Picture credit : Seed 2 plant

Hyalocereus costraricensis: Red dragon fruit

Seed Selection for Dragon Fruit from Seed: 

The most crucial step for productive dragon fruit cultivation is the selection of high-quality seeds. Make sure to select the seeds from ripe, healthy fruits, if purchased, and preferably obtain them from an authorized supplier or nursery. Seeds obtained from freshly harvested fruits have a higher germination rate, so look for seeds from freshly harvested produce.

Seed Preparation for Dragon Fruit :

Dragon fruit seeds possess a unique germination process. The seeds must be extracted from the fruit pulp and dried over many days. After the seeds have dried, sow them in a shallow tray with an even mix of soil, softly moistened, and placed in a warm place. Another option is to soak the seeds in warm water for 24 to 48 hours. Soaking seeds in water weakens their coating, which promotes faster germination.

Soil Bed Preparation for Dragon Fruit

For optimal dragon fruit growth, choose a bright spot in your yard that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Ensure that the potting mix is well-drained, slightly acidic or neutral in pH (dragon fruits are sensitive to waterlogged conditions), and rich in organic matter. To avoid waterlogging and potential plant damage, choose a pot with drainage holes. Choose a pot size large enough to allow your dragon fruit plant to grow naturally.

Planting the Dragon Fruit Seeds:

Sow the prepared seeds in the potting mixture at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch. Keep the seeds at least 1 to 2 inches apart to allow for good germination and growth. slightly moistens the soil immediately after planting to settle the water around the seeds.

Irrigating the beds and pots for Dragon Fruit :

Dragon fruit, as a cactus, requires very little water compared to other crops or fruits. Dragon fruit trees may survive several months without water. Drip irrigation is the preferred method for growing dragon fruit. The drip irrigation method is used to maintain steady soil moisture levels during fruit development. Irrigation with floods is not recommended because it wastes water and increases weed growth.  Water the plants frequently, and apply slow-release fertilizer to the soil every 2–3 months.

Seed Germination and Growth:

Dragon fruit seeds typically germinate in 1-2 weeks under normal and ideal conditions. Place the planted seed pot in a warm, bright location with indirect sunlight. Ensure that the soil is wet and not soggy during the period of germination.

Thinning:

As dragon fruit seedlings continue to grow, thinning is the most important step to permit the remaining fruits to grow more rapidly, prevent the development of such large crops, and enable them to give each new plant room. If you’re growing them indoors, transplant them to larger pots, which enhances further growth and development. A mature dragon fruit will eventually need at least a twenty-gallon pot for optimal growth.

Transplanting of the Seedlings:

Transplanting of the seedlings is done after the seedlings develop a few sets of true leaves, Now it’s time to transplant them into larger containers because they need enough moisture for their proper growth and development. Choose a location with ample sunlight and support structures for the climbing vines. Handle the seedlings carefully to avoid damaging delicate roots.

Dragon fruit plants require regular care and maintenance to thrive and yield nutritious fruits. Some of the actions required to care for and sustain dragon fruit plants.

Water Management:

The dragon fruit crop, which belongs to the Cactaceae family, consumes far less water than other plants. Drip irrigation is the most effective type of irrigation for dragon fruit farming because it keeps the soil moist during fruit development. Because the flowering and fruiting seasons overlap with the rainy season, excess moisture and waterlogging must be avoided to prevent pest infestations.

Fertilizer Management:

Dragon fruit requires judicious application of manures and fertilizers to grow and develop, as well as to increase crop output. Add slow-release fertilizer to the soil every 2-3 months to provide critical nutrients to the plants. Enough nutrients should be provided both through basal and fertigation using the drip method. fertigation

Pruning and Training:

Pruning is essential in dragon fruit crop cultivation to keep the plant’s shape and size, as they develop quickly. Dragon fruit requires trimming to increase plant vigor and produce more and higher-quality fruits, as well as to facilitate plant handling for optimal size. Cut any superfluous, inconvenient, unhealthy, or dry branches.

Flowering and fruiting:

Dragon fruit blossoms are off-white and appear at night. The perfume of the blossoms attracts a range of pollinators, including honeybees (Apis cerema), small honeybees (Apis florae), and rock bees (Apis dorsata), all of which successfully pollinate dragon fruit in the early morning. Flower thinning should be done such that no more than 80 blossoms remain on each pole at any given time.

Fruits that are closely spaced on the same branch should be removed. Fruits will appear 30–35 days after blooming. Dragon fruit is unpredictable in nature, and flowering and fruiting used to occur simultaneously. Cotton bags should be used to cover fruits when their color changes from green to red to control the damage caused by bird bites and pests. The same bags can be used multiple times.

Disease and Pest Management for Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit is resistant to pests and diseases. Pests such as mealy bugs, aphids, and termites have been reported killing dragon fruit in certain areas. They are sap-sucking insects that mostly consume the plant’s tasty sap. Mites and thrips can also cause problems; while they do not kill the plant, they are harmful to its overall health. Currently, the fruit fly lives in dragon fruit.

Pheromone traps should be installed throughout the orchard to reduce the fruit fly population.  In the summer, fungal assaults are most prevalent when the humidity in the environment is high, causing rust patches to grow and eventually decay. If the plant seems like it is in serious trouble from a fungal attack, then spraying a fungicide should solve the issue.

Harvesting:

The harvesting time mostly falls between July and November, which comes in 6-7 flushes. During the initial fruit development period, the outer skin of immature fruit looks bright green in colour and gradually turns red as the ripening progresses. The dragon fruit is harvested 30–35 days after flowering. An additional advantage of the crop is that, depending upon the market demand, there is scope for adjusting the harvesting time. For local markets, fruit can be harvested three to four days after the skin color changes from green to red/pink, while for far-away markets/export purposes, it can be harvested a day after the color change.

In conclusion, the detailed description of how to grow dragon fruit from seed and the cultivation of dragon fruit through seed requires consistent care and patience. The right conditions for germination and growth should be provided, along with a watering and support system, and proper care and maintenance, so that you can eventually enjoy home-grown dragon fruit. Growing dragon fruit from seed is a fulfilling journey that requires patience, consistency, and a bit of gardening. While the process starts simply with seed extraction and sowing and many other simple practices, it demands ongoing attention to soil moisture, sunlight, and plant support as the seedlings grow.

Successful cultivation from seed to mature plant involves careful transplanting of seedlings, and regular care over several years is required with proper attention. Although growing dragon fruit from seed is a slow process, the reward of seeing your plant thrive and eventually bear fruit is immensely satisfying. By following the steps and maintaining diligence, you can enjoy the unique experience of nurturing dragon fruit from seed to harvest and learning how to grow dragon fruit from seed.