In Cambodia, we can see dragon fruit plants growing in some areas. We don’t see dragon fruit trees in everywhere like other crops. The dragon fruit plants can be grown from seed, but is most often grown from a stem cutting. Pieces of stem root so readily that it can become a problem if cut pieces are left in the landscape after mowing or other damage to the plant. Plant two or more dragon fruit trees, many varieties need another plant for pollination. The dragon fruit tree blooms several times a year and can produce up to 220 pounds of dragon fruit on a single plant, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
Dragon fruit, commonly called “gift of nature”, is the latest entrant to the world of super fruits. It is significantly rich in antioxidants called phytoalbumin which prevents the formation of cancer-causing free radicals. The fruit is low in calories and high in fiber which helps to avoid constipation by acting as natural laxative. The fiber enhances digestion and reduces fat to improve the overall digestive health. It also helps excrete heavy metal toxins from the body. Dragon fruit is filled with vitamin C that ensures faster healing of bruises and cuts and helps improve the general immune system. It contains vitamin B1 which participates in the production of energy and metabolism of carbohydrates, vitamin B2 that works as a multivitamin to recover and improve appetite and vitamin B3 that lowers bad cholesterol level and enhances the appearance of the skin by moisturizing and smoothing it. It also serves as an alternative for rice for the diabetics and known to control blood glucose levels.
Dragon fruit is commonly known in Spanish as “pitaya” or pitahaya”. It is successfully grown in the tropical countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and the Philippines. It can also be found in Hawaii, China, Australia, Cambodia and Israel. In the country, it is commonly grown in Davao, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya and Bataan among other places. Other vernacular names are “fire dragon fruit” or “dragon pearl fruit” in Chinese, “green dragon” or “thanh long” in Vietnamese and strawberry pear or “nanettikafruit” in Costa RicaDragon fruit is commonly known in Spanish as “pitaya” or pitahaya”. It is successfully grown in the tropical countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and the Philippines. It can also be found in Hawaii, China, Australia and Israel. In the country, it is commonly grown in Davao, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya and Bataan among other places. Other vernacular names are “fire dragon fruit” or “dragon pearl fruit” in Chinese, “green dragon” or “thanh long” in Vietnamese and strawberry pear or “nanettikafruit” in Costa Rica
1. Trellis Building
The most important thing to do in dragon fruits planting is to make trellis or supporters for them to grow and bear fruits. We just spend some wooden poles to make a supporter and some old car wheels after cutting in small pieces of circles and other things as the images shown bellow.
2. Dragon Planting and caring
There are some steps to plant dragon fruits as the following:
a. We plant dragon fruit in a well-drained location with light shade or full sun. Dig a large hole, three to four times as deep and wide as the root ball of the plant. Moisten the soil and add four to five pounds of organic compost to the native dirt.
b. We Plant the dragon fruit cactus at the same level it was originally growing. Firm the soil around the plant.
c. We fertilize a month after planting, and every second month after, with a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13. Apply four to six nutritional sprays between March and September.
d. We provide a strong support for the plant. The side branches and fruit can eventually weigh several hundred pounds. A strong T-shaped trellis or pile of rocks is best.
e. We water the dragon fruit tree as needed during the fruiting months. Water deeply and allow the soil to dry out between watering. The dragon fruit tree is a cactus, but needs moisture to produce fruit.
f. We mulch the area around the dragon fruit tree with three to six inches of organic mulch. Keep the mulch away from the main stem to prevent rotting.
g. We train the plant by pruning away side branches until the tree reaches the desired height, just above the top of the trellis. Use clean pruning shears to remove the branches at the trunk.
h. We cut off the tip of the main trunk when the tree reaches the desired height, approximately three to four feet. Allow branches to form at this time. Tie the main trunk and the branches to the supporting trellis.
i. We prune two to three times a year to remove dead and damaged branches, keep the plant up off the ground and maintain a good size. Remove all cuttings from the area.
j. We protect plants from freezing temperatures by covering the plants with blankets or tarps when a freeze is expected. Plants are damaged below 31 degrees Fahrenheit, but may grow back from the root if the damage is not severe.
k. We protect dragon fruit trees from sunburn in areas with low humidity or high altitude. Use a shade cloth during the first few months after planting.
We harvest the fruit 30 to 50 days after it appears. The fruit are ready at 30 days, but will get larger and sweeter as they grow.
4. More information about how to plant dragon fruit trees
1 – Test the soil prior to planting the dragon fruit tree, using a soil testing kit, to ensure a pH of 5.3 to 6.7.
2- Amend the soil if the pH is not within range. Mix lime with the soil if the pH is below 5.3 or peat moss for soil with a pH above 6.7. Break up the soil with a garden fork and add the amendments according to label instructions.
3- Dig a hole for the dragon fruit tree equal to the height of its rootball. Dig the hole twice the rootball’s width to give the roots plenty of room for expansion.
4- Remove the dragon fruit tree from its nursery container. Set it in the center of the hole with the graft union (transition between roots and trunk) above the soil line. Backfill the hole, tamping the soil by foot to remove air pockets.
5- Water the dragon fruit tree deeply with a soaker hose after planting. Water weekly, thereafter, to maintain moist soil to a 1-inch depth. Once established, the dragon fruit tree will only require supplemental watering when the weather is dry.
6- Fertilize the dragon fruit tree three months after the original planting date. Apply a 14-14-14 fertilizer according to label instructions.
7- Spread a 6-inch layer of bark mulch around the dragon fruit tree to improve soil moisture retention and prevent weed growth. Keep the bark mulch a minimum of 8 to 12 inches from the bark of the tree to prevent pest problems.