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How to get dragon fruit flowers

Back when this website was a blog I got a few great questions from a reader about growing dragon fruit cactus.

Since these questions come up quite a bit, I am re-posting them here with additional updated information.


Frank from LA asks:

“I have a 2 year old dragon fruit plant in the garden (L.A.), but it hasn’t flowered so far. How old was your plant when it bloomed and what care did you give it?”

Dragon Fruit Flowers

Dragon Fruit Flowers

First question: 

How old were they when they bloomed?

  • The dragon fruit cacti aka pitaya (Hylocereus spp) in the photos are just under 2 years old. They started as 1.5 foot long cuttings.
  • However, for the first year they didn’t do anything.  In fact they barely grew.
  • As a result, I began to research.  The first thing I discovered was that there is a bit of conflicting information out there about how to grow the Dragon.  So then I researched the plants native habitat and that changed everything.
  • In the process I discovered my plants were initially not doing well because I treated them more like desert cacti than the tropical plants that they are.
  • After making some dramatic changes, the plants grew 5x-8x their original size the following year and are now flowering prolifically.  I treated a 10 month old cutting from one of the plants this way and it both flowered and fruited in its first year!
  • August 20, 2014 update: I put a dragon fruit vine cutting in the ground about 4 months ago… and I just noticed today that a flower bud is already growing on it! Amazing!!!


Second Question: 

What care did I give it? (short answer):

  • The major take-home lesson is that this plant should not be treated like a cactus.
  • Treat it like a tropical/subtropical plant and it will be very happy.
  • A happy dragon fruit cactus will bloom/flower.
More Dragon fruit flowers

More Dragon fruit flowers


Second Question (cont): 

What care did I give it? (long answer):

  • The pitaya is an odd cactus because it is native to the jungles of Central America and northern South America.  The cacti evolved in (and is best adapted to) this hot and wet tropical environment.
  • The plant is unlike a typical cactus in several other ways.  It has a vine like growth habitat and cannot hold up its own weight without support.  In its native Central/South America, this support structure comes in the form of big old jungle trees.  Therefore this plant is often considered an epiphyte (an epiphyte is just a name for a plant that grows on another plant without being a parasite).
  • The cactus loves the deep organic leaf litter/organic material of the jungle floor.  However, the plant is often found growing within collections of decomposed leaf litter in the upper reaches of sun exposed deep branch angles or crevices.
  • In this elevated spot the plant seems to do better which is likely a result of the improved sun exposure and perhaps the lack of competition for soil nutrients.
  • I suspect there is also a lot of bird fertilizer in the leaf litter in these high tree locations and it’s no surprise that this plant loves organic fertilizer.
  • With this information, I dug up my year old dragon fruit cacti that were struggling in the dry sandy soil I initially planted them in.  Basically, I starter over.  My new goal was to recreate a jungle experience for the dragon fruit cacti.


Dragon Fruit Cactus Soil:

  • I mixed up potting soil, peat moss and grow mulch.  I only added a small amount (perhaps 10%) of my native soil.  It was very organically rich mix.
  • The peat moss was added for moisture retention and mild acidification.
  • The grow mulch was added for lots of organic fertilizer.
  • The potting soil was to add in for a balanced mix of other organic material and aeration.
  • I am sure compost would also work great, but I didn’t have any on hand when I transplanted them.
  • Since then, I continue to pile organic material (grow much/worm castings, compost, etc) around the base of the cacti about 2x a year.
More dragon fruit flowers

Dragon fruit flowers


Dragon Fruit Cactus Water:

  • Don’t let the soil dry out!
  • Organic soil, frequent watering and heavy top mulch will help to keep the roots nice and moist.
  • However, be sure there is good drainage because these cacti will not tolerate standing water either.


Dragon Fruit Cactus Support:

  • I created a support system which is similar in design to the ones used in Vietnam where the dragon fruit is grown commercially.
  • In Vietnam they use cement structures so they don’t rot in the naturally wet climate of South East Asia.  However, cement poles in my yard did not seem that appealing.  Therefore, I used redwood because its natural resistance to water damage/rot.  I did not use pressure treated wood because (in my opinion) there are way too many odd chemicals in there to preserve that wood.
  • But really just about anything will work. Many people use fences or palm trees as a support structure for the plants to grow on.


Dragon Fruit Cactus Sun:

I planted them in full sun.

Side note: Full sun may not be the best option if you are in more of an inland desert environment because the sun may be too strong without the moisture in the air to deflect some of the strong Southern California sun’s rays.  Again, this is not your typical cactus and it does not belong in the desert.  However, if you have some ocean/marine influence to your climate, full sun or perhaps partial shade would be the way to go.  Full sun works for me and I am 10 miles inland from the ocean, with the property on the ocean-side of a big hill.


Dragon Fruit Cactus Planting Location:

  • I planted them at the top of a slope that I could easily access.
  • I chose this location because there is full sun and great drainage.
  • An elevated location is also a good idea to avoid areas where cold air collects in the cooler months.  This jungle plant is rather cold sensitive.


Update August 20, 2014:

Time-lapse video of dragon fruit flowers opening: 

  • Here’s a video I just put together of beautiful dragon fruit flowers opening (see below).
  • The following 20 second video was created by taking a picture every 15 min for 2 days.
  • But I didnt stay up all night taking pictures with a stopwatch; I set things up to happen automatically and walked away.
          • FYI: If you want to make a cool time-lapse video like this yourself, you just need to get a simple plug-in tool for your SLR.
          • The tool is called a “Release Timer Remote Control” and it is what allows you to set the time and interval for when the pictures will be taken automatically.
          • The prices for this category of product is all over the map.  The one I got has great reviews and is very reasonable compared to the others.  It was only about $30 on Amazon. Here’s the link if you are interested; Release Timer Remote Control
          • This particular Release Timer also has a ton of other-additional features that I am only starting to explore.
          • Its actually pretty darn cool.
          • The only major drawback about this product that I have read about on the reviews is that it doesn’t have an on/off button.  Therefore, you need to take the two AAA batteries out between uses… Which is probability a good idea anyways.



For more details on the dragon fruit flower, check out my post http://tastylandscape.com/2013/05/14/dragon-fruit-flower/

For complete details on how to get your dragon fruit to produce fruit, check out the recent post from 7/30/13. http://tastylandscape.com/2013/07/30/how-to-get-dragon-fruit-cactus-to-fruit/

Ripe Dragon Fruit. ready to pick.

Ripe Dragon Fruit. ready to pick.


Stefanie from Southern California has sent in some lovely pictures of her dragon fruit cacti in bloom (see below). Thanks Stefanie!

Dragon Fruit Flower: Photo credit: fellow reader Stefanie from Southern California

Dragon Fruit Flower: Photo credit fellow reader Stefanie from Southern California


Dragon Fruit Flowers opening. Photo credit Fellow reader Stefanie from Southern California

Dragon Fruit Flowers opening. Photo credit fellow reader Stefanie from Southern California


Stefanie adds that, "Some flowers take on an almost luminous quality when photographed." Photo credit from Stefanie living in Southern California

Stefanie adds that, “Some flowers take on an almost luminous quality when photographed.” Photo credit from Stefanie living in Southern California


Stefanie has a cool picture here that shows how her dragon fruit cactus rootlets have found her fountain which is connected to her aquaponics system. I am sure there is a lot of good nutrients in that water. Photo credit: Stefanie from Southern California

Stefanie has a cool picture here that shows how her dragon fruit cactus rootlets have found her fountain which is connected to her aquaponics system. I am sure there is a lot of great nutrients in that water. Photo credit: Stefanie from Southern California


About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.



    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Scotty

      Thanks for the good questions.
      It is difficult to find information about how to get Dragon Fruit Cactus to fruit.
      Overall, I have had the most success from trying to reproduce the plants native growing environment.
      I have recently created a post on just that subject (see below)

      Specifically, regarding your watering question:
      It would be great to have a specific formula that you could just plug into and know that if you water x a week that would work. However, there are so many variables that factor into the equation that there is no one simple answer. For example, some parts of the same town can have radically different microclimates that effect the speed that soil drys out. Surrounding soil types, planting soil types and the surrounding level of the land will also play into how the soil holds onto water. Finally, different seasons will clearly play a roll and a really hot-dry summer (like we are currently having) will definitely make a difference on how much you need to water. Bottom line, don’t let these plants dry out. They like moist soil that is not waterlogged. Directly checking the soil often may be your best bet.

      Regarding your fertilization question:
      Again its a good question but difficult. In general, these plants seem to need significantly more fertilizer than other cactus. In doing my best to reproduce the plants native growing environment I have gone rather organic with my fertilization attempts (see the link to my follow up article above). All that I can say for sure is that this method has worked for me. 13-7-13 may also work, I just don’t have personal experience with it.

      If you have time, I am sure others would like to hear about your progress.

  2. Advice:
    1. Move to Miami.
    2. Place cutting in soil.
    3. Wait.


  3. What variety is the dragon fruit??? Many varieties are self sterile. You would need another plant to flower on the same night, and the two would need to cross pollinate. Most all of the red varieties will set fruit without the need to cross pollinate.

    You would need to hand pollinate the blooms next time, to test to self sterile plants. Certainly if there were very extreme hot / cold then the plant could self abort the fruit.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Dennis
      Thanks for the note and for your insight.
      I have the red (actually purple) variety. They are self-fruitful and in my opinion this is really the way to go.
      As you noted, the main concern is to make the plants happy, otherwise they will abort the fruit.
      When it is really hot, I spray the branches with water and give them extra water in the soil.
      When it is cold (at least here), they are usually not trying to produce much fruit… Well except for the fall (now), when the weather is erratic and they are at the end of their blooming cycle. At this point I just let them go and see what happens. Its too much for me to try to keep them warm at night, however, there are def ways to do it.

      Where are you at in the world and what varieties are you growing?
      Any additional suggestions?
      Thanks Dennis !

      • Hi Thomas,

        Last year I went on holiday to Vietnam and had some delicious dragon fruit whilst there. I brought back the last one with me to London, UK. I picked out some of the tiny black seeds and planted them into a seedling compost. I now have about 18 little plants. The tallest is about 30 cm. I supported them with satay sticks, as they look like thin green worms. They are definitely growing upwards, but not getting any thicker. They are in a sunny position in the kitchen of my flat. Given the climate of the UK what I expect? Having got this far, it would be a shame to chuck them out.
        This is the first time I used Twitter and I can’t see away to attach a photo of my plants.
        I’ll be grateful for your advice,
        Aka Dr Maria Elliott ( I am a British GP)

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Csia
          Congrats on the successful germination of your little dragon fruit cacti.

          As far as what to do now:
          I have not personally grown dragon fruit cactus in a UK-like environment. However, here are some of my initial thoughts for you.

          A lot depends on how much effort you want to put into this endeavour.
          The dragon fruit cactus does best in a tropical/subtropical environment. So, they will not tolerate much cold.
          Therefore, planting outside does not seem like an option in the UK unless you have a heated greenhouse.

          However, these guys can and are grown as a house plants. A sunny window would be a great location if there is not a cold draft coming through the window (another consideration is to be sure that the same location doesn’t bake them in the summer). Perhaps most importantly, the dragon fruit cactus don’t like to have their roots dry out, which is easy to have happen for potted plants. So in pots, they need more diligent attention regarding the need for constant soil moisture (moist but not wet). Other issues such as specific soil requirements are outlined in the post.

          So then the tricky part:
          If you are successful and got all the requirements dialed in, then you will have the gift of a healthy plant.

          This sounds great, but the drawback is the room needed for the plant. The dragon fruit cactus is a climbing vine. When they are healthy, they grow fairly quickly and need support/something to climb on. Therefore, you might find yourself creating an elaborate structure around your window if things progress. This could be really cool, but not for everyone.

          Congrats and good luck. Please keep us posted.



      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Hey Scott.
        Thanks for the question.
        I suppose I should create a video or something for this… it would be easier to show than tell. Ill try to explain below.

        The basic idea is that you want to get the pollen from the anthers to the stigma… Preferably moving the pollen from a flower of one dragon fruit cactus to a flower of a different dragon fruit cactus.

        One of the easiest ways to move the pollen around is with the use of a small watercolor paintbrush. Q-tips also work.

        The stigma is that dominant structure in the middle of a flower. For dragon fruit flowers, the stigma looks a bit like a yellow octopus.

        The anthers are at the tip of the thin things that surround the stigma. There are lots of anthers and they sort-of form a circle around the stigma. For a dragon fruit, the anthers are also yellow.

        Best of luck,

  4. How long for it to bloom. Also what fertilizer should I use if any.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Ellen. Thanks for the question. This is something I had wondered myself.

      Question: How long to bloom?
      I have had 1 year old cuttings flower. But that success had a lot to do with numerous factors.

      Question: What Fertilizer?
      I am sure that there are many ways to grow this cactus. I can only tell you what has worked for me after some research and trial and error.
      I only use organic fertilizer for my dragon fruit. About 2-3 times in the growing season, I pile on compost/mulch around the root zone and water it in throughout the year. I use mulch with lots of organic fertilizer like Kelloggs grow mulch, mushroom compost and chicken manure.

      For more detailed information on this question please see my July 30 2013 post “How To Get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus To Fruit”

  5. Do u know of anybody that has tried to grow dragon fruit in aeroponic/hydroponic methods? I am thinking of trying aeroponics but if I could get your thoughts on this I would appreciate it.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Del
      Great question.
      I have limited experience with hydroponics; however, I know these cactus will not tolerate standing water around their roots, so it may not be the best method for them.
      However, aeropinics might be a way to go. Basically, these cactus live in nearly the same environment as jungle orchids. So if you can replicate that, I would think they would be happy. That being said, although dragon fruit cactus dont like their roots to be waterlogged, the also dont like the roots to dry out. It is a tricky balance.

  6. Thank alot

  7. Hey

    I live in Sydney Australia and here the sun can get pretty extreme. Ive planted 4 dragon fruit plants out in the open sun and one under the shade of a tree. The one under the tree is a lush dark green colour and is considerably larger than the ones planted out in the open (the ones exposed to full sun also tend to be yellower/light green).
    The upside to the ones planted in full sun is that they are now flowering despite looking far less healthy than the shaded plant. I reckon that full sun can be detrimental to the plants.


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for sharing your insight Hank.
      Your observations are in alignment with my experience as well.

      Although Dragon Fruit Cactus get loads of sun in their home equatorial jungle environment… the intensity of the sun is less.

      Seems like a paradox at first – but humidity is the key factor.
      In their humid home town, the atmosphere is full of moisture.
      The water/moisture in the humid air reflects a lot of sunlight and therefore the intensity of the sun is less in the jungle then what you would find in dryer climates.

      Therefore, if you live in a desert/dry climate, (as you observed) the plants will def appreciate filtered sunlight.

      The atmospheric marine layer that you can sometimes get living near the coast may = enough moisture to avoid the need for direct sunlight protection.
      I am living right at the edge of the coastal marine layer so I am kind of pushing my luck not having filtered sunlight for these guys.

      However, I just planted some Dragon Fruit Cactus cuttings in partial shade to see how they will do.
      Ill update as soon as they get a chance to get established.

      Thanks for the info Hank!


  8. Can I grow it in a pot?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Paul.
      Good question.
      You def can grow in pots. In fact, in nature these cactus grow in the crevices of trees which are like pots.

      However, these vine-like cactus need something to climb on to support them.
      Therefore if you are growing dragon fruit cactus in post, they need structural support in the pot as well.
      As with any plant, when growing in pots it can be more challenging because the soil tends to dry out faster, etc.


  9. I have cereus peruvianus plant that was given to -and it gave me beautiful white flowers I lived here Houston texas we had a very cold spell here. my plant looks like it is dieing from the cold spell do I cut off the dead leaf and will it come back again thank you

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Anna

      Sorry to hear about your cereus peruvianus.

      It’s tricky to say exactly what is going on without seeing your cactus. However, prolonged freezing can def do major damage to these plants.
      Recently, a contributing reader (Doug Schulz) recently added a comment about freezing temps to the cereus peruvianus article.

      Basically he noticed that the tips of the plant are hit first-they will turn yellow and deform. He uses styrofoam cups to protect the tips when its cold.

      Now your specific question about what to do now:
      If the freeze was really deep, there may not be much you can do. A deep freeze can kill a cereus.
      However, if the freeze only got the ends of your cactus you could do one of two things.
      1. Do noting. The plant may just heal itself and you will be left with a scarred up looking cactus.
      2. Chop the dying branches off and wait for new branches to sprout off the sides of where you cut it.

      Side note: If the branches start looking wet or gooey, I would def chop that off with clean margins. That kind-of rot can spread like a cancer.

  10. After many months of waiting, my Dragonfruit cutting finally began to grow. It produced a rather skinny stem, about as big around as my thumb. It is now over a foot long, with a tiny attachment to the original cutting. About a month ago, a much fatter (about twice the diameter) branch sprouted from the middle of the first stem. The fatter branch is now about three inches long. Should I cut off the skinny stem *beyond* the fat branch and use it as another cutting? Would it help the now top-heavy plant?

    I have it on a heat mat, under lights, and I mist it with purified water every day or so, and have it on a pebble tray. I feed it (lightly) two or three times a month. I have it tied to a (small) bamboo trellis.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Anita

      It sounds like you have created an ideal growing environment.

      Great question.

      The Dragon Fruit Cactus do tend to get top heavy.
      As a result, they really need something strong to climb on to (ideally wood).
      I tie or rope them on to various things such as a large stake, a big tree, a wood trellis, or a wooden fence (a metal fence will get to hot and burn them).
      After a while they put out air roots that will attach to whatever is nearby.
      Bamboo may not be porous enough for them to grab on to.
      And a small trellis will likely not support their growing weight.

      As far as trimming them; If you have the right growing environment you can probably do whatever you want.
      However, I tend to let them grow because the stems are like leaves. More leaves mean more plant energy and more possibility of fruit.

      If you are looking to grow more plants from the young cuttings… then I am not so sure.
      I have only used older mature stems for propigating… I have left the young stems (<1 year old) alone.
      So for all I know, the young stems would work, I just haven't tried it.

      Humm, perhaps I should try an experiment. I have so many stems of all ages it would be easy.

      Overall, if I was in your position, I would just let them grow for a while till they get older.

      I hope this helps a little bit.

      Thanks for the question,


  11. Leon & Yolanda

    We came across a dragon fruit in Eastern Cape South Africa with a flower that is still open at 2pm. Bit confused, maybe you can shed some light on this as all websites state that the flowers are only open at night. We imported cuttings early last year and try to get as much info as possible.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Leon & Yolanda

      So yea, the dragon fruit cactus flowers start to open up at dusk.
      They stay open all night long.
      Sometimes they stay open for a good part of the day after that… and yes even into the late afternoon.
      However, when they stay open this long it is never as wide open as they are in the middle of the night.
      I have noticed that prolonged opening time of the flowers happens more frequently if it is humid, the soil is moist and it is overcast.

      But even with the best of conditions for me in Southern California, the flowers on my plants are always wilting by the next evening.
      So for me, about 20 hours is the maximum amount of time for the flowers to be open.

      However, I have heard that in optimal jungle conditions, some varieties will stay open for up to two days!
      I have never seen this myself.

      Good luck with your new Dragon Fruit.
      Looking forward to hearing about your experience.


  12. I live in Palm Springs, CA and I picked up four dragon fruit cacti a couple of months ago. They’ve done fine during the Spring months and all have shown growth. A couple of cacti more growth than the other two. However, now that it is heating up to triple digit(100+ degree) weather I’ve noticed markings that I can only describe as a form of sunburn on the cacti. I’ve built a structure for shade so I think I’ve remedied the problem.

    It will be interesting to see how the dragon fruit cacti fare this summer. I’ve planted various sorts of succulents and I’ve lost some, particularly some types of aloe during the with intense summer heat out here with temperatures reaching 115 degrees or more. We also get the interesting effect of summer monsoonal weather from the South which brings humidity. From what I’ve observed, between the intense light, and (at times) humidity unprotected succulents will die as they essentially get ‘broiled’ by the light, heat, and humidity. Protection from the sun seems to be really critical out here in the desert. The succulents that I have that are well protected from the sun have done fine. It’s the more exposed ones that struggle.

    BTW, good commentary on growing dragonfruit.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Jim.

      I also totally agree with your observations.
      The Dragon fruit Cacti are jungle plants that are not built for intense dry heat.
      Their native overcast jungle atmosphere reflects a lot of light.. a protective process that just doesnt happen in the desert.
      So you are wise to protect them with shade in Palm Springs.

      Keep up the good work. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you.

  13. Hi Thomas,
    I just want to thank you for all the info you have put in here on the dragon fruit cactus. I have 3 different verities that I purchased 3 years a go and only the red kind has set fruit for me the pink and the white bloom but the flowers fall within 3 days. I do not know what I am doing wrong.I live in Tampa Florida and I grow all kinds of fruit trees from passion fruit vines to coffee trees but this cactus and the goji berry have been giving me a bit of run around 🙂 Last Saturday I had the first dragon fruit bloom of this year. I thought it was growing well till yesterday when I checked the flower, it had started to turn all yellow from the lush green it was on the bottom. I do have more flowers coming up that will bloom within a week or so and I do not want to have the same results. I do believe my soil is a bit sandy and I am willing to dig around the roots and add better soil with compost and dead leaves but will I set my cactus back to not flowering for the rest of the year or will it tolerate me messing with it? I greatly appreciate your thoughts and any advice you might have on the matter .

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Irena
      You are very welcome and thanks for the great question.
      Actually it is a tricky question and there are several potential variables; there are many reasons why a dragon fruit may drop its flowers. Soil quality is one of them.

      If the branches are rich green, it is likely not a soil issue.
      However, if the branches are pale green or yellow, it could mean that your watering is off (too much or too little) and/or that the soil is too sandy.

      So if we are working on the premise that the soil is the problem, then I will outline a few options that I would consider.

      1. Conservative approach:
      -Get some rich compost and/or grow mulch and put it around the root zone of your cactus.
      -Water it in thoroughly.
      -Don’t do any digging now, transplant the cactus in the fall.

      2. Slightly less conservative approach
      -Gently move some of the top soil away from the root zone of your dragon fruit.
      -Dig slowly by hand and stop when you see roots.
      -Get some rich compost and/or grow mulch and put it in the soil basin you just created around your cactus.
      -Water lots.
      -Transplant the cactus in the fall.

      3. Aggressive approach. – this may result in loss of this years flowers/crop. Transplanting in the summer can be very stressful on plants.
      -Pick a nice cool overcast morning or evening to work.
      -Dig your plant up and gently put it in the shade (try your to keep the root ball undisturbed and intact)
      -Dig a bigger hole (2x) where the cactus came out of.
      -If you have gophers in the area, create and install a gopher cage.
      -Mix grow mulch and/or compost with native native soil (use 50% or greater amt of mulch/compost).
      —-I would avoid adding uncomposted leaf litter. It can create unwanted air pockets around the roots. In addition, uncomposted plant material can actually suck up nitrogen from the surrounding soil.
      -If the area does not drain well, create a mound that you will plant your cactus on top of.
      —-One way to tell if you have a drainage problem is to fill that hole you created with water. If the water is still there after several hours, then you have a drainage problem.
      -Plant per usual and be extra diligent in the next weeks to be sure the soil does not dry out.

      • Hi Thomas,

        Thank you for the great advice!!! My cactus is very green and healthy and it was growing like crazy so I did trim some branches two days before the flower showed signs of dying. I thought if I cut a bit the cactus will put the energy on the fruit not the branch growth. Mistake ???
        I am going to go with the conservative approach ( for the love of those flowers I have growing on the cactus) hoping it will work if not I’ll transplant it on the fall.
        My grandma has a vineyard back in Europe and having spend all my summers around lots of fruit trees I had to have some trees to remind me of the childhood and the joys I used to have as a kid so I ordered Quince trees from Georgia ( no nursery has them in Florida) It sadend me that growers did not even know the fruit I was talking about (and what a great fruit it is) let alone have the tree and every place I visited and called I was reminded that that tree won’t grow in Florida. Well I planted my Georgia Quinces last spring, two months a go they bloomed and one of them has 10 little quinces the other has only two but they are growing beautifully
        My point is the cactus has to produce because it is on the right climet and with pollination and the right soil it should work because all It has done for the past 3 years was just grow green and drop flowers…

        Hope I’ll have good news soon
        Best Regards

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Irena

          Dragon fruit soil:
          No problem, my pleasure.
          I think I would also pick the conservative approach.

          Grandmother’s vineyard:
          Being able to grow-up around fruit trees is a cherished gift.
          It might be fun for you to write down some of the childhood memories that you had there.

          Ya know, I have been looking for quince too. It seems that they are hard to find everywhere.
          And congrats on your growing success.
          What varieties of quince are you growing?

          Dragon fruit:
          There are a lot of potential variables for dragon fruit fruiting success here; soil, water, temp, humidity, sun, plant age, etc.
          Keep an eye on the soil moisture-that would be my next concern.
          However, it sounds like you are on the right track and I am sure you will be successful soon.
          Looking forward to hearing about it.


          • Thank you Thomas! I sure hope so!
            I could write a book with all the beautiful memories I had there…It was a tradition at their table that I taste the new wine and finish that little glass I was given or you could say I was forced too as I did not like the taste of red wine as a child :-).There are times I am mad at my grandparents for never involving me on growing anything or teaching me any secrets on winemaking I had to find out all by myself and yes they could have saved me some good hours of research. I tried to make star fruit wine last November to find out it’s not that easy to make good wine so I have to try again when the tree is full with fruit.
            At my grandma’s house all I had to do was pick ripe fruit from any tree my heart desired have fun and stay clean. Easier said than done… The merlot grapes, black cherries,pomegranates and the mulberries were my bigest enemies ( they ruined my clothes).

            The Quinces I have are Smyrna and Pineapple, and I love to get the orange verity as well.I planted some from seed and have 7 young trees growing. I will try to graft them and I hope I will be successfull as I have killed so many mangos and avocados but had success grafting a beautiful Myer Lemon tree.

            I was intimidated a little by some spice trees I got three years a go but been really happy with the way they are growing All Spice,Cinnamon and Bay Laurel.I also just found out a nursery in St. Petersburg that has Nutmeg trees. I can’t wait till I get one home.
            Growing plants and trees is such joy I wish more people would do it.
            Appreciate all the advice!!!
            Best Regards

  14. Hi! I am from the Philippines. My dragon fruits are now flowering but after a week later the flowers wither. What should i do?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Kumusta Macel
      If you dragon fruit flowers have lasted for more than a few days you should be happy.
      Around here, they usually last a day before they close up and wither.
      In the best of environments for them, (such as a humid tropical semi-shaded jungle), the flowers can last longer.
      Considering that you are in the Philippines, you might have a better growing climate than most of us.

    • Maybe they were not pollinated

  15. I am Vietnamese. Those dragon fruit trees are planted in a pot and grown indoor. It doesn’t matter where you are: UK, Canada, US; it’s the temperature that matters. No need to put them outside, but we do push them outdoor in the summer (we are in the US) then push them back inside during the winter. If you need more light put them underneath a fluorescent light/lamp. Some plant will need manual pollination, if they don’t bloom for you during the day just stick the brush inside the pedals and pollinate them. Hey catching those flowers to blossom is not easy. We have to go to work, so sleep is kinda important. If they don’t fruit just marinate those pedals and eat them as a salad.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the note Estella
      Interesting about the option to marinate the pedals; I have never thought of doing that.

  16. This is my first time reading your site and I LOVE all the info. I am expecting my very first Dragon plant to arrive tomorrow. I have gotten so much advice about planting it/water/sun etc. A little overwhelming too. I was wondering if I could use a combination of potting soil (vigoro) cactus soil (Miracle gro) and compost in the pot where the plant will live. Should I also add pete moss? I would also love to contact Irene since I live in Tarpon Springs, Florida which is very close to St. Petersburg. If you would send her my email address we may be able to discuss our plants in this environment. Thank you for your site. I look forward to reading more of your posts and let you know how my Dragon is doing.
    Peggy Mullins

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Peggy
      Thank you very much for the positive feedback.

      Dragon Fruit soil:
      The dragon fruit cactus seem to do best in well draining organic soil.
      Therefore, it sounds like that the growing mix that you proposed should work… However, I am a bit concerned about the Miracle gro type of soil in this situation. From everything i have read Dragon Fruit seem to do best without synthetic fertilizers. Since a lot of the Miracle grow type of soils have synthetic fertilizers built in, they may not be the best option.

      That being said, I have not really tried any synthetic fertilizers with my dragon fruit cactus… so in all fairness, from personal experience, I dont know if it would help or hurt.

      When it comes to the dragon fruit cactus, I have just stuck to what has worked for me and that is the organic stuff.

      Peat moss will help to acidify the soil a bit and will also help with moisture retention. This is a nice addition to you mix as long as the area has excellent drainage… (peat moss is great at holding on to moisture) but then again, you should have excellent drainage anyways for dragon fruit growing success.
      Sometimes this moisture issue can be a bit tricky for Dragon Fruit Cactus, because their soil should not be allowed to dry out, but they should also not be standing in constantly soaked-waterlogged soil. Planting on a mound or on a slope is a great option to address drainage issues.

      Contacting Irena:
      That sounds like a great connection for you both.
      I would be happy to facilitate that discussion for you.
      However, as a rule, I wont share anyone’s personal email with anyone without their permission.
      Therefore, I will reach out to Irene myself for you to see if she is ok with it. If she is, then I will then give you her email address.

      Another option:
      Alternatively, you are both very welcome to use this website as a forum for discussion.
      That way many others can learn from and also contribute to the general knowledge pool.



      • Thanks so much Tom for your helpful reply. I tried to find organic cactus fertilizer at Home Depot yesterday and they don’t carry it. Can you give me some advice on where I can purchase it and the type/brand? On line perhaps?

        My Dragon should arrive today and I have purchased a large container to plant it in. It will be put on a hilly area of our property so drainage should be facilitated well-hopefully! We also have a sturdy trellis for it to climb on. I also meant to ask you if you would recommend adding a little pearlite to the mix.

        If you would contact Irene you can give her my email address and if she wants to contact me great. Or we can chat on your site which may be helpful to others.

        Much Thanks!


        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Peggy.
          You are very welcome.

          I like to mix “Kellogg’s Gromulch” into my planting soil.
          This is just my personal preference… there are other good products out there that are similar.
          I happen to use it because it works well for me, it is organic and it is usually sold a very good price.
          Most of the major box stores have it around here… Not sure about Florida.

          Note, this Kellogg’s Gromulch is not for potting your house plants. It kindof stinks and you wouldn’t want that in your house.
          Kellogg’s Gromulch also needs to be diluted with your native soil because it is rather strong if used straight.

          For my Dragon Fruit Cactus, I also add mushroom compost. This can be mixed in to the soil or used as a “topper”
          See my article on free compost below.
          Free compost!

          Regarding your question about Pearlite.
          That stuff is great at aerating the soil and in theory that should be a good addition to your Dragon Fruit cactus soil mix.
          However, I have not used it myself with the dragon fruit cactus.
          My cactus are planted directly in the ground, at the edge of a slope… they seem very happy.

          Dragon fruit Cactus are rather heavy feeders. Meaning they require more nitrogen-etc than the average cactus… or the average plant for that matter.
          However, they also seem to be a bit particular about the form in which that fertilizer comes.
          I would stick to the organic stuff for your dragon fruit cactus.
          This Neptune product (below link) is pretty great, but a little expensive
          Neptune’s Harvest Organic Hydrolized Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 36 0zNeptune’s Harvest Organic

          Jobes brand also has an organic fertilizer with great reviews on Amazon (I havent tried this one).
          This stuff is cheaper and may last longer based on what I am reading on the size of the bag.
          Jobes Organic Granular Fertilizer

          Great news:
          I contacted Irena to see if she would like me to share her email with you… in her reply email she said, “Yes, absolutely!”
          I hope this is a ‘fruitful’ connection for you both.
          I will be sending you both an introductory email shortly.


          • Thanks Tom for all the helpful info. I emailed Irena yesterday and she replied. We are geographically very close to each other. It is nice to have someone to discuss my latest passion of growing trees in containers. I’ll be in touch.


          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Peg

            You are very welcome.
            That was a great idea of yours to connect with your neighbor regarding growing in your area.
            Happy to help.
            Looking forward to hearing about your gardening successes.


          • Morning Tom,
            I finally got my dragon plant and it looks good. The nursery told me not to transplant it until new growth appears. They also sent me a dwarf papaya tree which was a disaster with broken limbs, eaten leaves and what looked like worm-like creatures on it. Don’t think it’s going to survive. So, I’m wondering if I should wait to transplant the dragon or go ahead and put it into the prepared container. I get that it may be in some shock from the road trip here but I’m not so sure the nursery knows what is best for it. How long does new growth take to show up? What would your advice be? Also, I got some of Jobe’s organic fertalize. When should I begin feeding it? The plant is about 18″ high and I’m not sure how much food to give it.

            Well, as always thanks for any advice you can offer. Have a great holiday!

            Peg Mullins

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Peggy.
            Happy 4th of July to you.
            Congrats on your dragon fruit cactus.

            When to plant cuttings:
            There is some discussion about the best time to plant a succulent cutting (Cactus, euphorbia, aeonium, etc)
            For your average succulent, most of the literature says that you should put the cutting in the shade for a week and let the cut-end heal (harden off). This is meant to prevent fungal infection, etc.

            However, I in my experience, I have found this to be totally unnecessary for dragon fruit cactus cuttings.
            I just cut off a branch at the node (the skinny part of the branch) and put it about 4 to 6 inches in the soil.
            I have recently started an experiment to see what age of cutting will do the best. Its have been about a month into it now and the young and very old cuttings are all still alive… Although it is a bit early to see much growth yet.

            When to plant from a potted plant:
            I think the nursery recommendations you mentioned might be intended to reduce the shock sustained from shipping.
            For example, when plants are shipped in the mail, the plant will get bumped around in an unpredictable way. Many of the micro-hairs on the roots will shear off from the movement and therefore the plant will not be able to take in as much water.
            So letting the plant settle in again for a bit will help it to get its roots back in shape before additional root movement-stress from being transplanted. I am guessing they are trying to reduce the risk of a potential double-hit to the roots (shipping and transplantation).

            However, I have personally never waited to plant my dragons. That being said, I am extremely careful when transplanting my tropical plants.
            See my article on “Best planting technique: 7 important steps” for how I do it.

            Just between you and me, I think the dragon fruit cactus are more adapted to disturbed roots than other plants.
            In their natural environment, they live on trees; esp in the elbows and nooks of big jungle trees.
            This can be a precarious growing location for a plant and I suspect they fall out of trees on occasion.
            Therefore, they are likely adapted to this inevitability.
            They then fall to the moist organic rich soil of the jungle floor, and start the climb up the nearest tree.
            Overall, if given the right growing conditions, Dragon Fruit Cactus grow very well.

            When to fertilize:
            I would wait on fertilizing for a few months.
            Newly transplanted plants will put out new roots that can be extra sensitive to fertilizer.

            Additional thoughts:
            I would keep a close eye on your new dragon fruit cactus for the first few weeks.
            Make sure it does not dry out and keep it in bright shade for a while.

            Dragon fruit cactus dont seem to need direct sunlight like most other fruit trees…
            Specifically, hot-intense desert-like sunlight will def burn them.

            This is esp true if they are coming from a nursery greenhouse (which most dragon fruit cactus are grown in commercially).
            This is not to say that dragon fruit cant be grown in direct sunlight. Many of mine are doing just fine in direct sunlight. But there should be some moisture in the air (marine effect) to deflect some of the suns rays.

            They should also be transitioned slowly into direct sunlight conditions… if that is your final goal.
            Basically, they will need to be acclimated from a presumed shady nursery growing environment. This will allow the branches to build up their own natural sunscreen.

            Good luck!

          • Thanks for the info Tom. I will wait about a week or so before transplanting. It seems to be fine with no clear signs of stress or parts falling off.


  17. Hi Tom,
    My cactus is still dropping its flowers and I can’t find the cure for it it seems. I have more than 20 old vines and you can imagine the amont of flowers that bloom and go to waste. I am considering of only growing the purple verity and not bother with the white and pink any longer. I also started an experiment over a month a go based on a picture of a cactus growing in Philipines I found online. I planted the new cuttings in vases than buried the vases on the ground. Two of them are over 6 ft tall but they are all doing well so I have to wait and see.

    I read Estella’s coment and I thought it was a great idea to be able to mess with the cactus flower before it opens up on its own. (mine usually bloom around 11:00 pm) I thought that would come handy if you had planed vacation and you could not wait for the midnight bloom also for cross pollination too.Two years a go I kept my family for a couple of hours from leaving on our vacation so I could pollinate the flowers and their sarcasm hunts me to this day. Every time we plan a family get away my husband says ” We will leave at “such hour” unless of course there is some dragon fruit flower that needs our attention first”. Than he turns to the kids and says; ” Please keep your fingers crossed that there will be no “Dragon Fruit Delay” this year.”..
    Well a week a go I tried that technique and found out that is not a good idea because those yellow saks that carry the pollen were hard. The flower will open up when it reaches it’s peak and that’s when the floury yellow dust will be present. Now this was done around 6:00 pm and the flowers usually open up by 10:00 pm ( in most cases) so let’s say 4-5 hour difference. I found out that if you want to collect pollen in jars it keeps really well now I am not having any fruit on my cactus so I can’t say if it is effective or not but it keeps fresh and I believe it should work for a two -three day period if you wanted to cross pollinate.
    The same goes for marinating the petals. If you wait to see if your flower will fruit or not it will be to late for those petals to be eaten. They are very delicate so you got to know before hand if you want a dragon fruit in a month or some petals in a salad now. The moment they bloom I’d harvest and eat them while they are still crisp.

    @ Peggy, don’t worry to much if your papaya will make it or not. They really grow easy and very fast from seed ( if there is a particular verity you want to grow) I also happen to have so many papaya trees and you are welcome to have two beautiful ones.( it will be my welcoming gift to you) they are not dwarf though but, they grow beautifully and produce a lot . If you are going to stick with only dwarf fruit I do have some bananas if you like to have them you are welcome to.

    Best Regards,

    • Hi Irena,
      Thanks for the offer on the papaya but my space is really (I mean seriously) limited and I am forced to stick to dwarf anything. The smaller the better! Tell me about the banana though. I know nothing about them. Can they be grown in containers? I heard banana trees only produce once and then die. Is this true? Do remember you are talking to a very early beginner here. Do keep in touch.

      • Hi Peggy,
        Yes, they do grow in containers and do die after they produce every year but, they always have new bananas coming up from the roots and they grow extremely fast. I have some in containers and some on the ground. I cook with banana leaves a lot and also use it for plates as well. Now if you do not constantly consume the leaves (like I do)you will have little bananas too and you are going to love them. They are very tasty. I love the tropical look they bring anywhere you put them. You can also grow some in containers indoors by a window. They are very easy and multipurpose plants. Hope you are enjoying the rain we are getting lately.

        Best Regards,

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Peggy and Irena

          I have a Banana plant too and agree they are great plants.
          The particular banana plant that I have is great for small spaces.
          It’s common name is “Dwarf Giant Banana” (I know its an oxymoron.. but I didnt name it).
          Scientific name: Enano Gigante.

          Its a real beauty and gives a great tropical look.
          Ill write a post on it when I get some time.
          However, I agree with everything that Irena said about growing banana’s.



        • Hi Irena,
          Bananas sound fascinating and I would love some. Thanks for the offer. Just let me know when it is convenient to drop by.


    • Hi Irena,
      I emailed you after we missed each other at Jene’s Tropicals. I would love some more mangoes but have hardly an space. If I can pick up the banana tree I think I can put it in a planter and put it in the back of my house. That way, I can move it if needed or I may just leave it on the lanai and see how big it gets. After having a ten acre horse farm, with numerous huge gardens, it is difficult to adjust to this small space. We actually have an acre but most of it is in conservation and you can’t plant or remove vegetation from the area. While we LOVE the natural Florida “wilderness” in back of our house (not the snakes though) it is challenging for me with plants. I want to grow loads of them but simply can’t. At Jene’s open house Saturday I spoke with so many people who have loads of exotic trees (full size) and I was kind of bummed about my limits. But, I am still growing stuff. In fact I may get one of the (really) dwarf guava trees since I tasted the fruit at the open house for the first time and really liked the unique taste.

      I am wondering if the furtelizer Tom recommended (Jobe’s organic all-purpose) would help your dragons. I just ordered three bags if it and would be happy to give you some to try. From what I understand, from reading Tom’s responses to other emails, dragons like natural ingredients in their food and not synthetic. You are welcome to experiment with some. Maybe it will help develop the flowers into fruit.

      Also, on my dragon there is a small red colored thing. Is this a flower? I haven’t been out in the dark to check to see if it is a bloom but since I just planted the dragon I didn’t think it could be.

      Well, just let me know if I can pick up the banana and I’ll bring some of the plant food.


  18. Hey there!
    I’m living in Turkey.
    Congratulations on your site too has been excellent.
    I’m raising dragon fruit but somehow they bloom.
    I wonder if I’m doing wrong somewhere.


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Merhaba Turgut

      Thank you for your comment.

      What part of Turkey are you living in?
      I traveled all around turkey years ago and had a wonderful time.

      Your pictures:
      Sorry to hear that your cactus are not blooming; they can be fickle creatures.
      Thanks for the links to your pics, that is always helpful.
      Overall, your cactus look healthy, congratulations.

      However, they do look a bit leggy (the branches look a bit long and thin).
      That could mean that they are reaching for more sunlight because they need more.
      Therefore, more sunlight might help.
      I would introduce more sun slowly so the plant can adapt and not burn.
      You might want to try it with one plant to see if it works before trying it on the other plants.
      Just note, more sun, means it will need more water.

      However, there are other potential issues to consider as well.

      Growing any plant in a pot can be stressful on the plant.
      Dragon fruit seem to do better than most plants in pots… However, keeping the soil moist and the soil temperature stable can be more of a challenge when they are in pots.
      In general, growing in larger post = less stress on the plant.

      A bit of natural fertilizer might help too.
      An option I would consider is spreading something organic on the top and watering it in.
      Well decomposed compost mixed with chicken manure is a good choice.

      Cant really tell what soil you have from the pics, but the richer-more organic the soil, the better.

      Good luck and keep us posted!

  19. hi Tom
    Thank you very much for the information
    I live in muğla /dalaman with.
    historic and beautiful places around here.
    Be my guest if you come back to turkey
    I would be very happy.

    some information from where I live.


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Your very welcome Turgut.

      You live in a truly beautiful part of the world:
      Years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to backpack from Ephesus to Olimpos/Olympos (Antalya Province).
      I traveled along much of the cost and it was truly an amazing trip with wonderful people.

      Later during that same trip, I traveled throughout many other parts of Turkey ending up as far as Trabzon.
      A very different place from where you live…
      And the amazing curving steep roads on the sides of cliffs!
      The roads were definitely impressive from a engineering standpoint, but you cant look down when your in a bus on those roads.

      Thank you for the invite.
      Perhaps some day I will take you up on your offer.


  20. Hi Tom,
    I just moved to Sarasota Florida (loving it so much) and inherited a 15-20 ft palmetto in my front yard completely covered in dragonfruit vine. Unfortunately, only a few strands of outside layer going all the way up are green; all the inside layers are gray and look dried out and dead, but the spindly outer bits keep snaking their way out. They’re reaching out to the oleander next to the palmetto. I’ve read your advice, so I’m pretty sure I need to amend the soil a lot and water frequently, but I’m wondering if I should pull the whole thing down. The neighbors didn’t know it was a dragonfruit (because it doesn’t fruit I guess), but love the flowers. Last month it had about 40 flowers all at once they tell me and was gorgeous. I can see the dead flowers hanging down, but they look detached and I don’t see any fruit. Should I pull the whole vine down (probably 50-80 lbs) and start over or what?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Teri

      Thanks for the note.

      A palmetto covered in dragon fruit vine must be quite the site, esp when it was flowering all at once.

      What you do next is an interesting question.
      As you mentioned, you do have a few options.
      But cutting everything down sounds like it would be a challenge.
      When dragon fruit cactus vines are long, they are vary awkward and hard to manage.
      If it was me, I would leave the mother plants where they are around your palmetto tree (at least for now).

      The first thing I would do is prep the area where you want to grow your dragon fruit cactus.
      Make sure the area drains well… mound the area with extra soil as needed to keep the dragon roots from getting waterlogged in the rainy season.
      Your dragons will also need something sturdy to grow on.

      Once everything is set, then I would get some cuttings from those those green looking vines around your palmetto tree.
      (Cut at the dragon fruit vine at the node, which is the thin narrow point that happens about every 1 to 3 feet).
      Put the bottom end of those dragon fruit cuttings about 4 to 6 inches into your rich soil and keep moist.
      Under the right conditions, they will grow rather fast.

      Side option:
      You could also potentially even clear away a small side of your palmetto tree to propagate the cuttings.
      This would allow you to leave the majority of the original vines in place while you get some new ones going.
      Of course you would have to sacrifice a few dragon fruit vines in the process…
      In addition, it may be challenging to dig a decent sized hole at the base of a palmetto tree, because the palmetto roots are typically very dense and hard to get through right at the bottom of the trunk.

      Simple option:
      Here is an easier option for the existing dragon fruit cactus that is around your palmetto tree.
      Just just pile rich soil/compost around the root zones of your cactus.

      Important note: Keep the new rich soil a distance from your palmetto tree trunk (6 to 12 inches). If the compost is piled directly around the trunk of your palmetto tree, it could rot the trunk.
      However, the dragon fruit cactus wont care if you partially cover them at the bottom.
      So therefore, pile the rich soil/compost around the outside parts of your dragon fruit cactus.
      Your palmetto tree may also like the extra nutrients and water it gets in the process.

      Now that I think of it, if it was me, I would likely do all of the above.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes.


      • Thanks Tom,
        But maybe I described it wrong. The dragon vines go all the way up the palmetto–they aren’t gathered around the bottom. In fact, I can’t find where they hit the ground at all. They just appear to pop out of the palmetto trunk around a foot from the ground and they go all the way up the tree. I asked my husband how high that was, and he said around 25 feet, so I’m not sure how I could get it down even if I wanted to. Any ideas?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thanks for the additional info Teri
          That is even more interesting.. But not entirely surprising.
          Dragon fruit cactus are epiphytes and that is kind-of their thing.
          [epiphyte (ep·i·phyte): a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic]

          So I guess it depends on how you feel about it.
          Do you want nonfruiting cactus vines covering and growing out of your palmetto, or do you want a clean look to that palmetto tree.

          If you are going for the clean look, then I would strongly consider a professional arborists/tree service to take care it.
          It can be dangerous doing that kind of work and I wouldnt want you to get hurt.

          However, it it was me, and it looks the way I imagine it, I would just leave the cactus be and let nature do its thing.
          Even if it did fruit at that height it would be very hard to get to when it was time to pick the fruit.

          So then, I would refer back to my previous suggestions of getting some good looking cuttings off the cactus and leave the rest behind.

          Something like a “Long Reach Bypass Pruner” might help you get come of those cuttings for transplanting.
          Heres an amazon link to what I am talkin about.
          http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000KL4LVI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000KL4LVI&linkCode=as2&tag=tastylands-20&linkId=64LCMHB5QVXIW4M6“>Corona LR 3460 Long Reach Cut ‘n’ Hold Bypass Pruner, 1/2” CutReply

  21. Thanks Tom, I’ll let you know how it goes! And thanks for having this website to help us all out with our dragons!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Your very welcome.
      Thanks for the comment and your story.
      Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

  22. I’m up tonight looking at my orchids, came in to google, and found your site. I bought them 30 years ago on a cruise stopover in Catalina. They grew but never bloomed in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, but here in Riverside….They bloom their heads off. I grow them in small pots placed on large pots of dwarf citrus. They get about the same treatment, and the organic part is because i don’t do anything inorganic, like cleaning up fallen leaves or bird droppings and I don’t kill the critters that slither around my patio. It’s a jungle out there. Your blog is wonderful! I can’t wait to try the time release thing. What a pleasure! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thank you Bonnie for the great feedback!
      It also sounds like you have an awesome patio in Riverside.
      Keep us updated on your progress/success.

  23. The informations are very easy to understand.

  24. why has my dragon fruit cacti gone white at the ends

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Anthony.
      Good question, but hard to answer without photos.
      Do you have a way to post a photo somewhere so I can get a better idea of what is going on?

  25. greetings–Have 3 questions re my dragon fruit plants– so far they have never flowered in subtropical Australia–What size pot is best (my ground is poor and doesn’t hold moisture)? I bought a white and red one and have cuttings rooted from both}. One red cutting is doing particularly well with long dangling fat stems, but is still in the small 8inch pot I struck it in. Also the bought white one is doing ok in a larger 12 inch pot but at its base the fleshy green has disappeared bareing a pencil thin centre stalk. Is this ok and was wondering why? Lastly, do they have a small rooting system: am anxious about repotting the lush red one. It gets morning sun only. It’s parent is in a sunny position and has done nothing in a large pot.I want to re-plant it but a sweet potato is happy sharing its pot! Re bananas- they grow well here but we can only legally grow the tall varieties, which makes competing with possums, rats and bats and harvesting the fruit difficult. Thks for an interesting site– E

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey E.
      Thanks for the note.

      Subtropical Australia should be a great climate for dragon fruit.
      However, I had grown dragon fruit here in Southern California for a while with absolutely no luck until I changed a few things.
      My problem was that I needed to stop treating them like cactus and start treating them like jungle plants.

      Your specific questions:

      1. Size pot:
      The bigger the better.
      However, the key to growing success is rich organic well draining soil that is not allowed to dry out.
      Planting in the ground after digging a large hole and filling with a mix of rich organic material/grow mulch and native soil is a great option if you have the room.

      2. Pencil thin stalk:
      Although it is difficult to tell without pictures…
      That could mean that the cactus has rotted away at the base and only the core remains.
      This could be a sign or too much moisture.
      This core may provide minimal or no pathway for water and nutrients to the rest of the plant.
      You might want to take some cuttings and start some new plants… at least a few cuttings.

      3. Rooting system:
      Yea, they have relatively medium to small sized rooting systems.

      Bonus item:
      Sunlight is a tricky thing with these plants.
      If they dont get enough sun they wont flower.
      If they get too much direct desert like sunlight they will burn.
      The sweet-spot is bright overcast sunlight… like you might get in a coastal area or cloud rain forest.

      How strange that you cant legally grow tall varieties of bananas in Australia.
      Why is that?

      Hope this helps.

      • Hi Thomas,

        It’s good to see there’s a group of people interested and dedicated for dragon fruit, and honestly I’ve read through all comments and picked a lot of useful information.

        Just to re your statement of
        “This core may provide minimal or no pathway for water and nutrients to the rest of the plant.”, I have a definite answer.

        Here’s the story of my dragon fruit…
        I get the plant from a store and it’s more like home-grown and cut for sale… So it’s fair good price.

        I tried my best to do homework (research) before take any radical action, e.g. re-potting and everything looks fine:
        – potting mix for cacti, to ensure better drainage, I blend extra river sand into. This is approved so far working fine for me.
        – I also mixed some cow manure

        However, as newbie always did, I over watered it for a while and unfortunately found the part in the soil is rotten. What I did is I scraped off the rotten part, and literally leave the core bit (which is pencil thin), and the part is roughly 5 cms. Afterwards, I leave the part exposed to air to dry and try to avoid fungus infection. The next day I put back the soil and to my surprise the plant survived and grows well. After the above surgery, it grew from 2 ft to about 5 ft.

        So based on my above experience, dragon fruit relies on it’s core bit to carry water and nutrition across.

        My plant is only 1 year old and reached 5 fts tall (I cut the top and encourage branching…) and has a few branches spreading out. Finger crossed wish I could get some flower next summer…

        By the way, I’m in Sydney, Australia, it’s a coastal city but with continental climate, it’s dry for most the time. I think the dryness does not affect the plant too much though.

        Thanks for you initial post, which offers a fantastic forum for all dragon fruit enthusiast!

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey David
          Thanks for the info and your experience.
          That is great to hear about the recovery from the rot problem you had.
          Sydney has a very similar climate to where I live (San Diego). So except for the flip in the seasons, we should have similar growing experiences.
          Please keep us updated on your progress.


  26. thankyou for reply– Yes, I think the ringbarked appearance at the base of my dragon fruit probably is some water problem after I had moved it to a semi-shaded position during a hot spell when temps were high 30’s, and one day it was 40degrees C.(104degreesF).My spouse likes to do the watering and he’s not overly familiar with special requirements. I sprayed the base with a fungacide today and will watch it. I have already struck new ones from a broken section.
    Re the bananas– The Gov.here has strict restrictions for home non-commercial planting in order to prevent the spread of diseases which would harm the commercial banana industry (bio-security)–Diseases like bunchy-top, black sigatoga and panama disease.. The tall variety I grow is allowable in this area.. It is possible to grow certain different shorter varieties, but one needs to apply for approval and availability is also regulated.
    thks again–Elaine

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Elaine
      Sorry to hear about the base of your cactus.
      Unfortunately, I dont think fungacide will do much at this point.
      I would’t expect the plant to grow back around the “ringbarked” damage at the base of your cactus.
      However, I could be wrong and I am curious to hear what happens.
      Regardless, the cuttings should do well.

      Thanks for the Banana info, that makes sense.

      Good luck,

  27. i am asad from India ,i have only 10 seeds.how can i germinate them

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Asad.
      Great question.
      If I only had a few seeds, I would do the following:

      -I would use multiple small germination containers; one for each seed.
      -Use peat moss or regular potting soil for the germination soil.
      -Barely cover the seeds with soil/peat moss.
      -Keep the soil moist but not water logged.
      -Water from the bottom so not to disturb the seeds.
      -Temperatures in the 65 to 75 F range seem optimal for dragon fruit germination.
      -Some people will cover the germination container with a plastic lid, plastic rap, etc. to help keep the humidity level up. However, the high humidity will also predispose to fungus, so keep a look out for that and remove areas infected immediately if you choose this option. Having multiple different containers will help to prevent the spread of a fungal outbreak if it happens.

      Good luck,

  28. Hi Thomas – thanks for the awesome advice in this blog post. I’ve recently encountered a disease on my dragon fruit and am wondering if you have seen this before? I posted some images with the same question here: http://gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/16251/can-dragon-fruit-get-scale


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Guy.

      Thanks for the note.
      I have been wondering about this for some time myself. I have similar (but smaller) spots on several of my dragon cactus plants as well.

      Unfortunately, I have not had much luck finding the answer from an internet search. However, I have asked some local growers about it with variable success. One guy said he thought it was either sunburn or a viral infection. I seriously doubt it is sunburn based on the distribution that I am seeing on my plants. However, I would believe a viral infection. Not sure what to do if it is viral though… But then again, it doesn’t seem to alter fruiting for me. From my experience it is more of a cosmetic thing.

      However, if you happen to find out anything more about the exact cause of these spots, please let me know. I would like get to the bottom of it.


  29. I am a home gardener in India and have a dragon fruit since two years.
    Your dragon fruit plant seems to have smooth edges while mine is really thorny (like a typical cactus)
    I had a heavy spell of rain almost wipe off my plant last year. I removed the mushy parts and replanted the cuttings in a big pot this year. They rooted really fast.
    Instead of a central stake ( as I have many cuttings in same pot) I have used a cage somewhat like the ones used for growing tomato.
    Aphids and ants are regularly seen on the tips- I just wash/ wipe them off.
    Many thanks for your information on fertilization- I was holding back water and mulch assuming them to behave like cacti.
    Hope to see some flowers and as a bonus, the fruits next year!
    Thanks for your article, it is very informative

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Chitra
      Thanks for the note.
      I like your dragon fruit support idea.

      A few thoughts to keep in mind with your interesting wire cage support method.
      These cactus can get big and heavy so you want to be sure the support is strong enough and that it does not cut the plant from the weight.
      Wire also can get hot in the sun and burn the plant.
      So I would just keep that in mind and adjust as your plants grow.

      Looking forward to hearing more.


  30. Nicole Anderson

    Hi Thomas!
    I live in South Florida and have been growing dragon fruit from a cutting for a little over a year. I have 6 cacti that are over 7 feet tall now! I just noticed the first bud on one of them. Should I continue to fertilize as they are starting to bud or should I just leave them alone now? (I usually fertilize at the beginning of every month) I’m very excited to see the first flower and I hope it transforms to fruit! I read one of your previous comments about giving them extra water during the hot days, so I’ll continue to do that, but do you have any other tips to ensure I get fruit?!!!! Thank you so much for sharing such great information on your site!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Nicole
      Great question.
      Flowering and fruiting is a tenuous time for any plant but especially the dragon fruit cactus.
      Water stress from sudden hot days can cause them to drop flowers and fruit.
      Extra watering during these extreme days can help.
      However, overwatering can also lead to fungal problems and rotting.


      • Thank you Tom! So far so good with the first year of dragon fruits!! The flowers on these are beautiful! I just enjoyed 4 all flowing at once the other night…nature is amazing!

  31. Hi,
    I live in Brisbane, Australia. I’ve just started growing dragon fruit, so an expert I am not, however there is a fella about 10km’s away is doing it commercially. His plants are not beautiful, kind of a yellow tinge to them in winter but they produce abundant fruit every season in a full sun northern position. They look lusher in summer. US would be the opposite position I figure according to hemisphere. We are in a subtropical climate so we get high humidity and rare frosts..maybe once every 3 years at my position above sea level and they are very light frosts. Varies between 8 degrees celcius and 42 degrees celcius though that is extreme. Normal summers reach between 38 and 40 degrees celcius. Sorry, you guys will have to do the farenheit conversions. I’m not sure what you guys use but here in Australia our folks should use climbing posts that are untreated with copper. Over here you can buy new ironbark or tonka posts with durability1(should last in the ground for 100 years but really expensive) or get them from a demolition yard when the old folks didn’t worry about termite protection and from these yards you can get really old secondhand hardwood that’s not treated. I know garden edges have been made from CCA sleepers forever and a day but the difference is dragons root directly onto the wood, there’s no earth around those upwards roots. The roots of the majority of plants aren’t particularly fond of treated wood with copper, chrome or arsenic which is the treatment used in wood in Australia to stop termites/wood ants. Especially if the roots need to cling on to it.

    Fruit trees that go well in this climate are mango, bananas(great to eat but they are a herb and will keep suckering new plants continuously) great if you have space, figs,custard apple,all citrus, passionfruit, paw paw(papaya)what a great and healthy fruit, very famous here as a remedy from coldsores to burns,insect bites you name it, considered comparable to the healing properties of honey. Anyway that’s a bit about where I come from..

    I have a few questions if that’s ok?
    Have you grown your dragon fruit in tiers? I’m considering changing the frame so I’ll go vertical to 5 or 6 foot and let it horizontally spread but train some verticals to keep going to 9 or 10 foot and letting them spread horizontally again. I haven’t seen any pics anywhere(maybe not looking hard enough) but I know in Thailand they grow some very short, like only 3 foot high, kind of thinking why not go up a level from there. There may be a good reason why not and I’d love to hear if it’s a waste of time.

    Also have you heard anything about the mass of the plant needing to weigh around 11kg overall before they start fruiting?

    There is word that a specific type of night time nectar moth will do the pollinating. That may be true, I’ve been involved in plant nurseries for 43 years (not my choice, a family thing so I hated plants from nappies till I was about 25, something must have rubbed off on me later in life) but I’m kind of the opinion that there may be more insects capable of this job as we do have a lot of little flying critters around here.

    Trying to dispell some myths or get some facts:) I have a good feeling about the research I’ve done, on your site and others that they will be ok but have a desire to know more. Thanks for all the helpful information.
    Kind Regards Luke

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Luke.

      More great info; Thanks!

      I also dont use treated wood for dragon fruit support. My reasoning was that I didnt want those chemicals leaching out of the treated wood into the ground and then into the plants. However, your observation that the air roots dont like the treated wood is very interesting. Using reclaimed untreated hardwood is a great idea. Myself, I have simply been using untreated redwood which has natural bug repellent and lasts a long time. I suspect that cedar would work too, but it will probably not last a long.

      On to your questions:

      Support structure:
      Your vertical/horizontal espalier-like support idea sounds cool. I have not tried that, but I dont know why it would not work. In fact, this orientation may more closely mimic the natural growing pattern in their native jungle. I have been trying a variety of different growing support systems ranging from up a tree to specifically built structures. So far, the orientation doesnt seem to matter much. I have also seen some dragon fruit cactus growing “wild” in Hawaii directly down a slope. That seems to be fine too. So far, the most important factor I have noticed for successful fruiting is the environmental conditions… and of them soil moisture seems to be one of the most important.

      Plant weight:
      I have not heard about any plant weight threshold for fruiting; but it would not be surprising if there was that correlation. The reasoning; young plants are smaller, less established and cant support the needs of growing fruit. However, from my personal experience, I have actually had small newly planted branches flower in the first year. I have also allowed some really small (less than 11 kg) cactus fruit.

      Night time pollinating insects:
      Yea, I absolutely agree. Around here there is this huge moth known as a “Hawk Moth” “Humming Bird Moth” or “Sphinx Moth.” As you can imagine, it is about the size of a humming bird. They are the adult form of hornworms. This family of moths includes about 1,500 species, and I am pretty sure they are found all over. I have caught these guys visiting my dragon fruit cactus and cereus cactus flowers at night and they are built to be great pollinators to these large nighttime flowers.

      Thanks Luke!

  32. Hi Thomas,
    I’d love to help Nicole here if I may. As a general rule of thumb you should never fertilize a plant as it is coming into flower, the plants aim is to seed and reproduce. That’s what they do. It is normally a change of season /temperature/daylight hours. It’s nature at work. Otherwise they would flower and seed all year happily, but plants that behave like that are generally considered weeds unless edible. There are factors that cause reproduction and you need to be able to recognise them. Flower buds are your first sign but maybe keep a diary of the month/temperature and hold off a month earlier next season on the feed at these times. Trust your plants clock, they’ve been doing this since the dawn of time without much help(granted the conditions exist for them). If you fertilize while flowering more than likely they will go “yippee I don’t need to seed, I’ll keep growing.” The flowers will wilt and fall off normally. It’s the same reason any reputable nursery will tell you to knock off the flower buds in the first year of growing on an immature fruit plant. It’s nice to see fruit however if all the energy is going to the fruit your poor thin plant will struggle to establish and grow nice and strong, it’ll have all these big juicy bulbs dragging it down. Patience is the key to a getting a good base for all the good years to come. I just knocked all the flower buds off my first year citrus collection, and depending how they go this year they may get the same treatment next time they flower. I’m prepared to do that especially on the espaliers as I need them to keep on the move so I can shape them. No time to slow down and have puppies:) Plants are about watching carefully and oodles of patience, luck helps more often than realised too. It hurt (I did smell the pulled off buds for a while and that was my incentive) it’s done now and the fruits of my labour will be realised later. Your case sounds opposite..you have a good tall base and it wants to reproduce, I wouldn’t encourage it with food right now..it might put that burst of energy into another growth spurt on the foliage and the fruit will miss out. Look carefully, a lot, not all, but plenty of fruit plants will look a bit worse for wear while reproducing. They put a lot of energy into producing fruit and ultimately seed if you don’t pick and eat it that is:) As Thomas said it is a tenuous and I’d add strenuous time. Think about how quickly those fruit develop and how much water content is in them. This all happens fairly quickly. This is the one time you need to let nature do it’s thing. Help it grow any way possible but leave it fruit in peace.
    Kind Regards Luke

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thank Luke, great insight!!

      As Luke mentioned, I also always knock of the flowers and fruit of newly planted trees for the same reason. Depending on the plant, I will do this for the first year in some plants… or even up to 4 years in other more sensitive plants. Although this can be emotionally painful for a gardener to do, I believe it is very important for healthy plant development.

      When my dragons are in high fruit production they look a bit yellow. Not surprising though; creating that delicious fruit takes a lot of plant energy.

      In the Spring they flower, and in the Summer they continue to flower and fruit. In the fall they continue to fruit and only occasionally flower. Trying to avoid fertilizing during this time is tricky, because it is most of the year.

      My practice is most importantly keep up with the watering requirements during the hot and dry fruiting season. This is key. Having them grow in rich well draining composted organic material is also very important. This gives them a year round baseline supply of at least a small amount of nutrients. Although I agree with your assessment about not fertilizing during fruiting, I do break that rule a bit. Basically because my plants are nearly always flowering and fruiting, I have to fertilize more than just the winter months. So yea, I fertilize all year round, but less so in the summer. Using organic fertilizer is a more mellow way to go and they seem to do better with organic fertilizer anyways. If the plants are looking particularly exhausted/yellow and sickly from over production, I also up the nutrients. I am not saying this is the most optimal practice, but it has been working well for me.



      • Hey Tom,
        Your conditions must be great. I’d love to have plants that fruit all the time. The lemon does but they are as tough as old boots! I will try the trellis system as an experiment. Could take 12-15 months as they are only young. If I have success I’ll send some pics in the future. Quite amazing that they will grow almost like a ground cover as you mentioned in Hawaii. That’s the amazing thing about plants. If they find the right conditions they are capable of almost anything. Thanks again for your site. It is very informative!
        Cheers Luke

    • Thank you so much Luke! That was very helpful. I will let nature do its job. I just enjoyed my first dragon fruit a few days ago and it was delicious! I can’t wait until the next one is ready. It’s hard to be patient! I didn’t know that about cutting the buds off when the trees are young. I have an avocado tree that started buds this year for the first time however they fell off before getting to the size of a dime. Maybe because I continue to fertilize? It’s still a young tree. Next year I will know!!! Thank you for the information and good luck with your citrus collection!

      • Hi Nicole,
        Thankyou. The trick with avocado’s is they have a flower that is female at one stage but change to male during the opening cycle or vice versa, sorry can’t remember and so are not great self pollinators. Have a look on the net to see if your avocado is a type A or type B. If it’s a type A it would be best to get a type B aswell. The male and females open at seperate times on each type during the day and the bees will do the work for you. It is most likely they never got pollinated but if it’s a young avocado it is preferable they dropped at this stage anyway. Another great fruit. They cost $3 each to buy here. Daylight robbery. I’m waiting on my nursery to get my Fuerte(typeb) and Hass(type a) as we speak:)

  33. hello.

    please help, i got 4 flowers ready to bloom but it seems they all died and got seperated from the tree. when i check the flower it seems it didnt bloom instead the it got rotten. please help. what do i need to do, so my dragon fruit will bloom without dieng.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Sorry to hear that Ramon
      Unfortunately (in my experience) once the flowers start to die, there is no saving them.

      Although I have not had flower buds die, I have occasionally seen the flowers themselves die before making fruit.
      This happens more often when the weather is unfavorable, (example; sudden hot/dry weather or cold weather).

      Its hard to control the weather, but…

      Watering heavy on really hot/dry days can help (as long as the soil is well draining).
      Below is a link to an article I wrote that might help with hot weather option.

      On the other side of the temp, protecting the plants from the cold can make a difference too.
      Below is a link to an article I wrote that might help you with the cold weather option.

      Hope this helps,

      • thank you for the advice thomas, it seems that theres another 4 small buds hopefully i want to see theme bloom. its rainy days stratibg these months any advice to make sure the flowers will bloom?. and also thank you for the rwpky 🙂

  34. Frey Erik Autengruber

    Hello Thomas :),

    Im really interested in Dragonfruit Growing, and my hobby is beekeeping so the big flowers would be amazing for my bees(Of course the fruits are for me hehe xD)
    The problem is i live in germany, and the climate conditions are not so good for the pitahaya. But i really want the plant in my Garden , what would you suggest? and could you ship a dragonfruit cutting to me? How much would you take?


    Frey Erik 🙂

    • Frey Erik Autengruber

      I have 3 dragonfruitplants, i grew them from seeds last year i guess, but they are very thin, and they grow really slow, 20cm i guess

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Erik
      Thanks for the note.

      The flowers are rather awesome, and I do notice that bees do visit them.
      However the flowers only open in the evening and only lase a day.
      The bees have a small window of opportunity to visit them (usually in the morning before the wilt).

      As you noted, Germany is not the climate for them if you want to plant them in the ground.
      However, these plants will do quite well in a large container.
      So.. If I was you, I would grow them in a container outside in the warm months and bring them into a nice warm sunny and humid-ish location in the winter. A sunny bathroom (where there is a shower) or near kitchen sink might work. Best bet would be a heated greenhouse but that would be crazy expensive to maintain conditions in the winter.

      The biggest problem would be support and mobility.
      Thees guys are basically vines and they need structure to grow on.
      And they can grow a lot, so you need a lot of structure, which can make moving inside and outside difficult.
      An option would be to keep trimming them to a small size, but I am not sure how that would impact their productivity.
      However, in SE Asia, they grow these dragons small in pots and they can produce tons of fruit there… But then again the environmental conditions are optimal there (hot, humid, sunny).

      About shipping to Germany…
      Honestly I would be happy to but I have not looked into the agriculture laws for shipping.
      A lot of countries are very sensitive about what plants can get shipped into their country.
      And for good reason, invasive bugs, etc are a big problem.

      If you can get me a bit of info about Germany’s agriculture import laws, ill do my best to hook you up.

  35. Frey Erik Autengruber

    Hello Tom 🙂 ,

    thanks for your fast reply, i appreciate that. So i looked into the matter and did some research about custom in Germany, and it basically says nothing special about this individual kind of plant. Import of grape-vines, potatoe plants, and such is forbidden, other plants however only require a plant health certificate. So i assume it should work out as long as the importer can show this certificate when crossing borders.

    Thanks again for your help, oh and by the way, would you mind talking to me on skype? It would be even more helpful and easier than writing all of this, for both sides.

    Have a nice day,


    Frey Erik ( my brother wrote this because my english is bad 😀 )

  36. hi tom,

    it seems we have same issue with “Ramon”, my pithaya have 4 buds but 1 only one survive. 4 of them turned tobyellow then died. is there any way to prevent not dieing.?. by the way love this website.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Jay
      Thank you for your kind feedback.

      Dragon flower to fruit question:
      You are hitting on the question at the heart of many growers.
      However, this is not an easy question to answer.
      Basically, these plants are built for a very specific and relatively stable jungle environment.
      The fact that we can coax them to produce fruit outside of that climate is pretty special.

      More specifically:
      I believe there are a lot of potential factors at play here and we only have control over some.
      Dragon fruit cactus need a specific formula of the right sun, humidity, soil, fertilization, moisture, etc.
      …and we also need the right pollination on that one magic night.
      If one of those things gets messed up then plant will put on the brakes.
      It can be a tricky alchemy.

      • thank you tom,

        i’ll try to put a cover to protect it from the sun. see if theres any changes. im in the philippines and its summer right now. thnkz for the reply.

  37. my three potted dragons gave nine flowers this year ,all but three didn’t last longer than a week then fell off the plant. the three that are surviving I presume, are going to produce fruits. my problem is that the (fruits ) are being over ran with ants, what do you suggest as a method to rid them of the ants? or will the ants do them any harm?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Doug
      Thanks for the note,
      Sorry took me a bit to get back to you, I just got back from a business trip.

      Ants in any of your plants are trouble.
      Typically they carry sap sucking insects with them such as aphids or scale.
      My first defense ants is to blast them off with a strong spray of water.
      Then if that doesnt work after a few attempts I escalate to stronger measures.

      Another reader recently asked a similar question, I am going to search for my response that ant question and get back to you.
      One min…

      Ok, I am back.

      A more detailed list of ant fighting techniques is outlined in my comment response to Rosie in the related article
      How to get your dragon fruit cactus to fruit

      Response date and time:
      2015/09/24 at 8:01 pm

      Hope this helps,


      • thanks for responding to my question, I may have solved the ant problem, I hosed them off as you suggested then dried off a section of the arm that holds the fruit, and applied a 1/8 ” layer of vaseline jelly to it ,the ants either got stuck to it or they wouldn’t cross over it , its been a couple of days now and no more ants.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Cool Doug
          clever idea, just hope that direct contact with the Vaseline does not damage the stems.
          Please keep us updated.

  38. Hi! I live near the ocean in Hawaii and have several dragon fruit plants in large plastic buckets that I drilled drainage holes in. They grow but the stems tend to be long and skinny rather than fat. It’s been years and it doesn’t seem like they will ever flower. What can I do? By the way, I received some cuttings from a friend whose plants are prolific but they live in a sunnier drier part of the island. Again, My stems tend to be dark green and skinny while his are a lighter green and fat. Per his advice I’ve been fertilizing with chicken manure once a month. They have been growing but still the stems don’t get fat like his. Any thoughts? Thanks very much!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Amy
      Thanks for the note.

      Long-skinny branches often mean that the plant is stretching-reaching out for more sunlight.
      I have also noticed that my dragon cacti branches grown in the shade tend be much greener than the ones grown in full sun.
      So they look healthy.. but they dont flower.

      So if you happen to be growing your dragons in shady conditions, try moving them into an area with more sunlight.

      The fertilizer sounds great.
      However, some people have mentioned that too much fertilizer will promote growth at the expense of flowering or fruiting.
      This is definitely the case for many different plants.
      However, I have not personally noticed it to be a negative factor for me.


  39. Hi! Can I ask? ahmm.. how do dragon fruit reproduce sexually? and if you plant a seed how long will it take to grow?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Xynica
      Great question.

      (Now I have the music of Marvin Gaye in my head as I am composing this question about sex).

      Dragon fruit cactus reproduce sexually by getting the pollen (male parts) from one flower to reach the stigma (female part) of another flower.
      Since flowers can go trolling around to find their sexual partner, they need some help connecting the parts.
      Many times, flowers manipulate others to do the dirty work for them.
      For many daytime flowering plants, bees are the ones getting into everyone’s business.

      However, some flowers have specifically evolved to attract a different kind of liaison.
      For the nighttime blooming Dragon Fruit, the unwitting accomplice in this sexual union is either moths or nectar loving bats… or a doting gardener.

      Now some plants can pollinate themselves and produce fruit. In this situation, pollen from the same flower can fall onto the same flower stigma to make the prize. From a biological standpoint, this is a safer bet if you want to produce fruits/seeds. However, since it is all in the family, so to speak, there is less genetic variability in the outcome… And genetic variability is the key to increasing the chances of survival for future offspring… esp if there is a chance for environmental changes.

      Dragon fruit seeds germinate fairly quickly… About a week after planting little sprouts start to popup.
      However, to get to the size and maturity of fruiting may take up to 7 years.

      Cuttings are a much easier way to go and you are also guaranteed to know what the type of fruit will be since a cutting is a genetic clone of the mother plant.

  40. or what materials do I need to plant a dragon fruit sexually?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Xynica.
      Transferring the pollen from one flower to the stigma of another flower can be done in a lot of ways.
      Many people like to use a small watercolor brush to move the pollen around.
      But basically just about anything on that order will do including q-tips etc.

      My article on How to get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus to Fruit will cover this. Specifically, there is a video in the mid part of that article (Pollination Update #3 (July 29, 2014):) will also go over the exact things you are looking for.

      Hope this helps,

  41. hello thomas thanks for your helping people like us, I have some problems if you dont mind
    I am living in fethiye-turkiye and I am growing dragon fruit on big amount for a year. I am seeing the winter first time and the weather is not usual. evenings humidity is near 99% and temparature is around 40-44 but below 32 at night. I have frozen blanket(we say this way,not sure in english) for plants and use it, looks like working a little also I have very little green house , I put little pots there temparature is around 40 in it. severe damages started I guess, there are lesions on sets and lifeless parts on the ends but main parts are ok. do you think it is too late to save them?
    what is your important opinions for this?
    thanks in advance thanks so much.
    greetings from Turkiye.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Barko
      Thank you for the note, I am happy to help.

      Wonderful Turkey:
      You live in a beautiful part of the world in Fethiye-Turkiye (Turkey). I traveled through the amazing Mediterranean coast of Turkey years ago and it was stunning.

      Unusual cold spell:
      Speaking of, I am surprised to hear that the temperatures are dropping down so low in your area. But yea, Dragon Fruit Cacti do not like frost.

      Prepare for frost:
      A frost blanket (frozen blanket) will help a bit. It is important that the blanket goes down to the ground and completely coveres the plant. I wrote an article about this topic a while back with some tips that might help. here is a link to that article: Prepare for a cold snap

      So now that the damage is done… what do you do now?
      It depends on how bad and extensive the damage is.
      Do you happen to have a way to post pictures (such as twitter, pintrest, google +, etc)?
      Seeing the condition of your plants may help to guide your next steps.


  42. I grow dragonfruit in Naples Florida. After much research I found it grows best if you grow a single shoot up to about 4-6′ and them cut it off to encourage off shoots to grow. Remove all off shoots below the 4-6′. Let it grow over to look as an umbrella. If it grows to tall it will not flower. It grows 30-40′ up my pines with no flowers. It is a heavy feeder and loves composted chicken manure. It produces more fruit if you shock it by no water in April and then heavy feed and water. We also let cutting lay for 2 weeks before planting. When it flowers and the flowers do not grow into fruit is lack of pollination. You need moths and bats to pollinate at night.

    I experimented with one piece by putting fresh chicken manure around it. It turned yellow, then green and grew like crazy. I took pics to document the growth. From what I did to this, I think the only way to kill them is to drowned them.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thank you Bonnie
      Some great experimental insight… A gardener after my own heart.
      Sounds like we have had some similar experiences.
      Though I was not aware of the “shock” technique. Great insight.

  43. Hi: what fertilizer do u spray on the dragonfruit leaves. My location in Guam is on a hill and with direct sunlight. My DF leaves are yellowish except on the side where sunlight is not too direct. Is all purpose miracle grow soluble fertilizer safe?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Alicia
      Great question.
      I have not tried to use a foliar-spray fertilizer on my dragon fruit cactus.
      I generally apply organic fertilizer (of various sorts) around the root zone.
      I have not tried miracle grow.

      Yellowing of the branches that are exposed to intense sunlight seems to be a very common phenomenon.
      If it was a nutrient deficiency then you would expect that the whole plant would be impacted and not just the intense-sun exposed sides.


      • Alicia Hipolito

        Hi Dr.
        You reminded me of a pediatrician I met in my ballet class years and years ago who was fascinated/obsessed with ballet while treating patients..

        Last March, I cut foliage that were damaged by typhoon. Last Month one fruit came out and until now no other fruit comes out. On Guam this time till August is the fruit season.
        Did my cutting damaged the fruiting time of my tree?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thank you Alicia
          There is a lot of one-off reports about how cutting foliage will help and/hurt fruiting.
          However, I have not seen any well designed scientific research on the subject so I think the verdict is still out.

          However, In general:
          If an average plants ability to make energy is disabled (severe loss of leaves, branches, root problems), then it will not have energy to make fruit.
          Therefore, in your case, it is possible that the typhoon knocked your plants back into recovery/survival mode. In this situation, your dragon fruit cacti will be working to build back up to where they were before the damage from the storm.

          My advice is to treat them well and next go around they should start fruiting again.


          • Hi Tom,

            My dragon fruits this year .Mostly the flowers turn to dying fruit .Why are the fruits turn like that, instead of fruits? I need your expert attention.


          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Pete
            This is a very popular and important question.
            There are a lot of factors that all come together to get fruit.
            Once you dial it in you can enjoy.. but getting there takes a bit of specific knowledge.

            I wrote an article about this topic a while back.
            Check out the article below for more info.
            How to get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus to Fruit


  44. Hi Dr. Tom,
    Well…my dragon fruit garden is FULL of buds…over 40! I have 3 fruit so far that lived. One turned yellow a week after flowering and fell off. 🙁 my question is watering? I live in Florida…it’s been hot and rains one day a week..so far. I am not sure if I should water my plants every day or give them a nice shower? I know the buds need water..but I don’t want to overdue it. I have them in raised beds..as I sent you a picture of them, and the drainage is wonderful. Just not sure what is right and wrong.
    Also, a few limbs have like 5-7 buds coming our on them! Isn’t that too many? Will they just have the strongest will servive and smaller will not make it? My Nov. 2014 cuttings are making me very happy!!!!
    Thanks again for all your help!!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Rose

      Congrats on all the buds!

      Great question.

      Watering is one of the trickiest things for dragon fruit cactus.
      The amount you water mainly depends on the temperature, humidity, time of year and soil.
      So there is not necessarily an easy “right” answer based on so many variables.

      On one side, you dont want to over water and cause rot.
      On the other extreme you dont want to under water and have them dry out.
      Touching the branches to make sure they have good turgor (they are not getting limp) can help you avoid problems on the under-watering side of the equation.
      Manually evaluating the soil moisture can help too. If the soil is still cool and slightly damp a couple of inches sown then you are probably ok… But if the soil is dry deeper than that, then you should prob water.

      Changing weather conditions make it hard to schedule a specific watering time.
      (one hot day can really dry things out).

      In general, infrequent deep watering is better than frequent shallow watering.

      Good luck!

      • Thank you Dr. Tom!!!! I think I got the water system down. Your info. Is always the BEST!!! And as for buds….I am freaking out!!! I have way over 100 now!!! Everyday more and more are popping up! 😎 I have two flowering tomorrow. It is so cool to see the differences in the bud coloring on the different varieties. My 24 plants are happy for sure!
        Thanks again!!!

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Awesome Rose!
          That is exciting to hear.
          Congrats on your growing success.
          Looking forward to hearing about your harvest.

  45. So I was wondering if u ever had a chance to either try on your own or get any information about growing dragonfruit hydroponically.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Interesting idea Del
      I have not tried it or heard of growing dragon fruit hydroponically.

      • I was hoping that u would’ve got somebody tell u something on that subject by now. I don’t know if u remembered me asking u the same question a couple years ago. u gave me pretty much the exact same answer. lol.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Del

          LOL… At least we have consistency.

          Have a great weekend!


          • Hi Tom,
            How are you? Hope fine as usual? I have nine fruits on my dragon and it so happen they are turn to yellow and drop.Why like this and taking care of it.Could you tell me why? Thanks.


          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hi Pete
            Great question.
            There are a lot of factors that may play a role here.
            If major factors are not in alignment then the plant may abort the fruiting process.
            Major things to consider include, pollination, water, soil, temperature, humidity, etc.

            I have written an article on this very subject that may provide a more complete answer for you.
            Check out the article via the link below.


  46. I have a question about a break in the main stem of my pitaya plant. My plant got a crack in the main stem while I was repotting it (it’s very top-heavy). The crack is not all the way through the stem and I was able to “seal” it using the weight of the plant (I got the edges to close and line up). How should I care for the plant? Will the crack heal? Or will it start to die?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi there… pitayasb

      Thats an interesting question, but the answer depends.
      Its kindof like sending a text to your doctor and saying, “I cut myself, do you think it will heal?”

      So the answer would be rather similar in this situation.
      On one hand if the cut/crack is small and you are healthy the answer would be “yea, no problem”.
      On the other hand, if the cut/crack was significant and you were not so healthy, then the answer might be. “Not sure or doesnt sound good”
      Then there are many options in between.

      Overall however, healthy plants are pretty resilient. If you stabilize the injury (splint) and keep it clean then most of the time you have a good outcome.

      Good luck,

  47. hi im analea from the philippines , I am planning to have a thesis study plant producing gel on fire retardants , I have come to an idea that cactus has an edible fruit such as this dragon fruit. My query is , does which part of the dragon fruit produces gel ? ,,,, just reply me back … thanks a lot …

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Ana
      Interesting project.

      There is some sticky like substance in the rind of the dragon fruit. But there is not a lot.
      The fruit itself is rather juicy and melting… not really gel.
      The gross composition of the dragon fruit cactus branches are similar to typical cactus branches.

      If your looking for sticky gel from a plant… then aloe might be a place to look.
      The insides of Aloe leaves are mostly made of gooey gel supported by a somewhat spongy matrix.

      Good luck and please keep us updated on your progress.


  48. Hi Thomas,

    I hope you can provide some input on this situation. I recently purchased several rooted (and one not rooted) cuttings online (from what seems like a reputable seller on Etsy). They arrived today and all are very tall with nice size root systems….however they look a bit wilted/wrinkly, they feel kind of “soft” and the roots are bone dry. I planted them (in pots) in organic soil mixed with perlite & sand, gave them a good dousing with the hose and placed them in a nice sunny spot.

    My question is, do you think they might be ok or is it likely that I got sent duds? I have read that the roots should not be allowed to dry out & that healthy cuttings/plants should not be withered/wilted looking or have a bend to the touch like these do.

    (Any input is appreciated. I am worried about simply sitting around waiting to find out if they live or die because i’m not sure how long my window of time to contact the seller with a problem is)

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Smeggy

      Well, to your point, it could be that they just had a long dry trip and are a bit dehydrated.
      Hopefully that is all it is.
      And, I agree, these are not your normal cactus and should not be allowed to get bone dry.
      If they are looking that dehydrated, I might put them in partial shade for a week or so while they recover.

      My follow up article on dragon fruiting provides some additional insight on care that may be a helpful guide.
      How to get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus to Fruit

      Good luck,

      • Ah, yes, I suppose it could be from the trip. That did not come to mind because I ordered several other cuttings from various different sellers and none of the others arrived looking like this.

        I will try putting them in partial shade as you suggested. Maybe they will perk up. Thank you for the link, I am checking it out right now. 🙂


  49. Where can i get me one of those dragon fruit cactuses

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Matthew
      Good question. There are places on-line and local places.
      I prefer supporting local growers.
      What part of the world do you live in?

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