Indigenous to South America and warm, humid climates, and cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions, dragon fruit is known by many names, including cactus fruit, strawberry pear, Belle of the night, and moonlight cactus. Based on the common names, you might infer that something perhaps happens in the night—you’d be right. From July through October, each large white fragrant flower only opens for one night and then is withered by the morning. The dragon part of the name refers to the leathery skin and scaly spikes that would make a person think twice about eating it. But of course you can; it’s mildly sweet, has tiny black crunchy kiwi-like seeds, and is in fact nutritious. This tropical fruit contains high levels of vitamin C and carotene, which has anti-cancer properties.
- Dragon fruit needs sun to produce fruit so plant it in a full sun spot or a place that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. When situated indoors, make sure your plant is in a warm and sunny spot.
- Unlike most cactus, dragon fruit likes to have its soil on the slightly moist side.
- Plant your dragon fruit in fast draining potting soil formulated for cactuses, or if planted in the ground, make sure your soil is sandy and slightly acidic.
- Dragon fruit is a vining cactus and likes to climb. It can clamber 5 to 10 feet so provide some support with a stake or trellis. And because the plant can get overloaded with fruit, make sure your support system is very sturdy.
- This plant appreciates a low-nitrogen cactus fertilizer every other month during its summer growing season, then when winter comes stop the feedings.
- Be on the lookout for small invaders like aphids and mealybugs, and larger creatures like bats and birds who love the fruit.
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