Dragon Fruit

A Beastly Beauty

Common Names

Pitaya, pitahaya, strawberry pear

Native Region

Mexico and South America

USDA Growing Zones

Zone 9*, Zone 10, Zone 11
The dragon fruit plant is a climbing tropical cactus which produces visually stunning, brightly colored fruit resembling a dragon’s leathery scales – hence the name. It is native to Mexico and Central America, well known throughout Asia, and is gaining in popularity in the US. This beast of a fruit high in fiber, low in sugar and calories (in comparison to other tropical fruits), contains vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and iron, and also several types of antioxidants. The dragon fruit even produces beautiful flowers – if you can catch them, because they bloom only at night!
Fun Fact: Dragon fruit blossoms are some of the largest around... but they only bloom at night, and once!

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The history and background

Dragon Fruit Guide

Armando Red Subtle Sweetness
Dragon Fruit Quick Facts
Scientific NameHylocereus undatus (white flesh, pink or red skin) Hylocereus costaricensis (purple/red flesh, pink/red skin)
Common NamesPitaya, pitahaya, strawberry pear, Belle of the Night, Kaktus madu, or Thanh Lon
OriginsMexico and South America
Annual or Perennial?Perennial
Plant TypeClimbing cactus
Plant Size10-15 feet tall in the wild; can be pruned to desired height
Growing DifficultyModerate
Growing Zone(s)10 – 12 (greenhouse zone 9)
Growing Requirements: Temperature65-85 degrees
Growing Requirements: SoilWell-draining sandy soil
Growing Requirements: SunlightFull sun. 6 to 8 hours is best, although the root areas can withstand some shade
Growing Requirements: WaterAllow soil to completely dry out before watering; do not let roots sit in water
Weight (Individual Fruit)1-3.5 lbs
Fruiting Season5 months
Fruit Size & ShapeSpherical, ovoid
Edible PartsFlesh and seeds (peel the skin)
Fruit TasteMild sweet kiwi, or a cross between a pear, a cucumber, and a watermelon. White flesh variety are the least sweet and have an earthy taste
Ripens Off the Vine?No
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Dragon Fruit

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Dragon Fruit Plants

Yellow Dragon Cutting

Yellow Skinned, White Flesh Fruit


Growing & Caring for

Your Dragon Fruit Plant

Growing a dragon fruit plant from seed could take several years, so the easiest and quickest way to grow a plant is from a cutting. These plants grow naturally in tropical and sub-tropical regions, and it’s best to wait until the risk of front passes before planting. The average temperature should be higher than 65 degrees F.

Take a 12-18 inch cutting and place the cut side down into sandy soil, watering monthly. The plant should take root within the month. Mature plants do best in a minimum 10-gallon pot.

Whether planting in a pot or in the ground, your dragon fruit plant is a climber and will require a trellis, fence, or post structure for support, spaced about 5-6 feet apart. The plant also puts out aerial roots. The plant’s branches are heavy and should be tied to its support with a soft cloth or similar fastening. As the plant bears fruit, this will help support the weight of the growing fruit.

Dragon fruit has a fairly long fruiting season, about 5 months, from early summer through mid-fall.

In the winter, add 2-3 inches of wood chips or similar mulch to protect your plant from extreme temperature changes.

Videos We Love!

What's the Difference Between Self-Fertile, Self-Pollinating, Cross-Pollinating, and Self-Sterile?

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Finder
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Learn More about Farming

Dragon Fruit FAQ

How Do I Get My Dragon Fruit Plant to Produce Fruit?

Most of the varieties of dragon fruits are self-pollinating and fruit will set on their own. For varieties that require cross-pollination, you must grow two or more dragon fruit plants. Grow them closely together so that bees and other pollinators can work their magic. We recommend hand pollination, but it requires excellent timing and a watchful eye. Dragon fruit flowers are open in the evening and last only one evening! Watch some of the useful videos we have linked for guidance on hand pollination.

Your dragon fruit plant will continue to flower and set new fruits throughout its fruit-bearing season.

How Many Years Before My Dragon Fruit Plant Produces Fruit?

From a cutting, you may see your dragon fruit plant start to bear fruit after about 3 years. It could take up to 7 years from seed.

When Do I Pick the Fruit?

After the plant flowers and dragon fruit starts to appear, it will take around 30-34 days to ripen. The fruit is ripe when the skin turns from green to either yellow or a vibrant shade of pink/red (depending on the variety). The small leaves on the sides of the fruit (also known as the “wings”) will also start to fade or turn brown as the fruit ripens.
Use a pair of garden shears or a knife to cut the fruit off. Dragon fruit can last up to two weeks if stored in the fridge. This fruit does not ripen off the vine, so don't pick it too early!

How Do You Eat a Dragon Fruit?

Use a sharp knife and cut straight through the fruit, slicing it in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and seeds, which are also edible, or cut further in to wedges and peel the thin skin like you would an orange.
Enjoy it in a tropical fruit salad or green salad, blend it into a smoothie, or simply eat it plain!

What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?

Dragon fruit taste and texture is like that of a mild, sweet kiwi fruit. Some say it has a mild melon-like taste, with hints of pear and cucumber. White flesh varieties of dragon fruit tend to be the least sweet and can have an earthy taste.
How to Cross Pollinate Dragon Fruit

A real super food

Dragon Fruit Recipes & Ideas

Dragon Fruit Salad
Dragonfruit Acai Bowls
Dragon Fruit Margarita


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