Dragon Fruit Plant: Varieties, Propagation, and Care

Pitaya, also known as Dragon Fruit, is native to Central and South America. It has a subtle, sweet watermelon flavor with an earthy twist. What’s good about pitaya is that it’s a fast-growing fruit, and the plant can keep on giving for more than seven or eight years. It’s got bright red skin with big scales, and inside, you’ll find white or pink flesh with some tiny black seeds.

Dragon Fruit Varieties

There are three major diversity of Dragon fruit that make it rare and special in the context of their rich nutritional and low-calorie properties. These varies are:

Yellow Dragon Fruit (Pitaya Amarilla)

A dragon fruit with bright yellow skin and matching yellow flesh. That’s the yellow dragon fruit.

Yellow Dragon Fruit, Image Source: Pixabay

Red Dragon Fruit (Pitaya Roja)

The red dragon fruit has vibrant red skin and red flesh.

Pink Dragon Fruit (Pitaya Blanca)

It comes with lovely pink skin and delicious white flesh.

Nutrient Power of Dragon Fruit

From its vibrant varieties, including yellow, red, and pink dragon fruit, to its nutrient-packed flesh, rich in Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, iron, antioxidants, magnesium, and dietary fiber, this fruit is a powerhouse of goodness. 

  • Vitamin B2 (Boost your energy) – Dragon fruit is packed with Vitamin B2, which is like a fuel for your body. However, it gives you the energy you need and keeps your diet on track.
  • Vitamin C (Good for Immunity System) – This fruit is your shield against health troubles. Moreover, its Vitamin C content helps protect your immune system, heart, skin, and more. 
  • Iron (Good for Brains and Muscles Functioning) – Dragon fruit contains iron, and that’s vital for your brain and muscles to function at their best. Additionally, it keeps you sharp and strong.
  • Antioxidants (Fight Free Radicals) – Dragon fruit is armed with antioxidants that battle those nasty free radicals. However, they’re like bodyguards for your cells, protecting you from heart disease, cancer, and more.
  • Magnesium (Your Relaxation Buddy) – Dragon fruit’s got your back when you need to relax. It’s rich in magnesium, which helps ease nerves, muscles, and anxiety. Plus, it’s great for muscle recovery. 
  • High in Fiber – (Good for Heart) – In addition to maintaining a healthy heart, controlling blood sugar, and keeping bowels in shape, dragon fruit is a great source of fiber. It even helps lower cholesterol levels. 
Dragon fruit, Image Source: Pixabay

Cultivate Dragon Fruit

Cultivating dragon fruit demands careful attention to soil, climate, and propagation methods. However, its adaptability to poor soil and variable temperatures makes it a resilient and productive choice for tropical regions[1]Cultivation of Dragon Fruit. Read.

1. Soil and Climate:

  • Dragon fruit loves sandy soil with good drainage[2]Mansingh, S. and Padhan A. Dragon Fruit Cultivation in Different Types of Soil: Problems and their Management. Innovative Sustainable Farming, 2023. Read.
  • The ideal soil pH is 5.5 to 7.
  • It thrives in temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. However, avoid below-freezing temps.

2. Land Preparation:

  • Plough the land till it’s weed-free and has a fine texture.
  • Add organic compost to enrich the soil.

3. Propagation:

  • Cuttings work best (around 20 cm long).
  • Avoid using seeds for commercial cultivation.

4. Space Area:

  • Space plants 8×8 ft apart.

5. Irrigation:

6. Harvesting and Yield:

  • Harvest when the skin turns from green to red or pink.
  • The best time is 3-4 days after the color change[3] Harvesting Process of Dragon Fruit. Read.
  • Expect an approximate yield of 20 kg.
Read: Wolfsbane – Cultivars, Problems, Propagation, and Cares

Protecting Your Dragon Fruit Plant 

Taking care of your dragon fruit plant involves more than just growing it; you also need to protect it from potential threats like pests and diseases. These can harm the health of your plant and lower the amount of fruit it produces. However, to safeguard your dragon fruit, here are some important steps to keep in mind:

Disease Defense:

Anthracnose Control:

  • Spray Mancozeb, Carbendazim, Thiophanate methyl, or Chlorothalonil three times before harvesting.

Brown Spot Management:

  • Keep the field clean by removing fallen diseased fruits, leaves, and vines.
  • Prune vines to reduce density.
  • Use copper-based fungicides for timely sprays.

Soft Rot Prevention:

  • Prune dying stems and use copper sulfate.
  • Apply whitewash before issues arise.
  • Regularly use copper-based fungicides.

Fruit Rot Avoidance:

  • Keep the planting area weed-free.
  • Remove and dispose of diseased plants promptly.

Pest Protection:

Aphid Defense:

  • Prune to reduce dense canopy.
  • Avoid intercropping with other host plants.
  • Encourage natural enemies by planting flowers and agro-forestry strips.
  • Additionally, consider insecticide sprays like Lambda-Cyhalothrin, Cypermethrin, Amidacloprid, or Acetamiprid.

Thrips Control:

  • Remove plant residues and volunteer plants during field prep.
  • Apply mulch to reduce pupation.
  • Use insecticides like Deltamethrin for effective control.

Dragon fruit -A Super Crop

Dragon fruit is making a splash as an emerging supercrop and for good reason. It’s often hailed as a tropical superfood, due to its nutrient profile. However, packed with essential nutrients and light on calories, dragon fruit is the only one in the world of nutrition.

Here’s why it’s getting all the attention:

  • Nutrient-Rich: Dragon fruit is loaded with a variety of essential nutrients.
  • Calorie-Friendly: It’s low in calories, hence, making it a smart choice for those watching their waistlines.
  • Chronic Illness Control: It can help manage chronic illnesses and promote a healthy digestive system.
  • Immunity Booster: Dragon fruit gives your body’s immunity a boost.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: It’s a great source of various vitamins and minerals.
  • Dietary Fiber: Dragon fruit is also rich in dietary fibers, which are fantastic for your overall health.

Dragon Fruit: Fruiting

Dragon fruit plants are hardy, thriving in poor soil and variable temperatures. But they truly flourish in tropical climates.

Under ideal conditions, they start fruiting at two years and hit full production within a few more. However, commercially, they can keep producing for a whopping 20 years. 

Read: Propagate Elephant Ear Plants: A Step-by-Step Guide

Harvesting Dragon Fruit: Timing is Key

When dragon fruit’s skin goes from green to red or pink, it’s ready to pick. However, the fruit is oval or ovate, about 10 to 15 cm long, and typically forms about 30 to 50 days after flowering[4]Pitaya Dragon Fruit Production and Processing. Read.

Inside, you’ll find white flesh with black seeds. While pink is common, there are also red or yellow dragon fruit varieties.

dragon fruit crop production, Image Source: Pixabay

Yearly Life Cycle Care Calender Of Dragon Fruit Plant

The journey of nurturing a dragon fruit plant involves periodic care, from pruning to pollination, flowering to fruiting. However, its growth can span over several years, with a commercial lifespan reaching up to two decades.

Below is the yearly care calender  of the Dragon Fruit plant:

January – March– Initial pruning for upward growth
– Remove dead stems and selectively prune for better airflow
– Irrigate twice a week, avoid oversaturation
– Apply NPK fertilizer (1:1:2 ratio) every 4 months
April – June– Observe bell-shaped flowers
– Bees assist with pollination during daytime hours
– Hand pollination may be necessary for
improved fruit production (varies)
– Longer daylight periods are needed for flowering and fruiting
July – September– Peak flowering and fruiting period 
– Monitor fruit development
October – December– Adjust irrigation based on weather
– Prune as needed for plant health and airflow maintenance.

Flowering and Fruiting Of Dragon Fruit Plant

  • In warm climates, the active growth of dragon fruit slows or stops during the dry season.
  • H. undatus (Dragon fruit) flowers are self-compatible but can cross-pollinate with other Hylocereus species.
  • H. undatus (Dragon fruit) requires longer days to induce flowering and fruits mainly from May to October in the Northern Hemisphere. 
  • H. polyrhizus (Red Dragon fruit) produces fruit most of the year and is less reliant on day length.
  • Buds for dragon fruit form along the three-ribbed stems in summer.
  • Flowers open for two days, leading to rapid fruit development.
  • Harvest fruit about 28 days after flower closure when it has 85% pink skin color.
  • Thinning flowers and fruit to one or two per branch ensures uniform size and quality.
  • Unripe fruit contains mucilage, so it’s best to harvest at full color (pink-red skin with green scales) for the best flavor. 
  • Dragon fruit can be stored for 2-3 months at 7-10°C with high humidity. Yellow pitaya can be stored for 4 weeks at 10°C or longer at 20°C with lower humidity.
  • In Vietnam, a second fruiting season can be induced using lights or potassium nitrate, starting 70 days before the expected harvest. However, it produces fewer fruits.
Dragon Fruit Flower, Image Source: Pixabay

That is all about the Dragon Fruit Plant, its characteristics, and its care and maintenance routine. 


Its unique taste and health benefits make it a remarkable superfood native to Central and South America. However, timing is crucial when it comes to harvesting this supercrop. The transition from green to red or pink skin signals readiness, offering oval fruit filled with rich white flesh and tiny black seeds.


1Cultivation of Dragon Fruit. Read
2Mansingh, S. and Padhan A. Dragon Fruit Cultivation in Different Types of Soil: Problems and their Management. Innovative Sustainable Farming, 2023. Read
3 Harvesting Process of Dragon Fruit. Read
4Pitaya Dragon Fruit Production and Processing. Read