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Dragon Fruit Diseases

Dragon Spots:

Many dragon fruit cacti have spots on their stems and these spots may be sign of an infection. However, other non-infections injuries such as a scaring from physical trauma or sunburn may result in a similar appearance. This article will outline the key characteristics of the most common Dragon Fruit diseases.

Most importantly, having this knowledge will help you to avoid buying infected plants.  In addition, many of these same pitaya problems listed here can also infect other plants in addition to cacti.  Therefore, the information provided below may be transferable to your other garden loved-ones.  The best option is prevention which includes keeping your Dragon Fruit cacti healthy and using sterile pruning techniques.  For a complete guide to growing healthy Dragon Fruit, check out my article on How To Get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus To Fruit.

Botryosphaeria dothidea:

The fungal infection known by the scientific name Botryosphaeria dothidea causes blotchy red/brown spots on the stems of Dragon Fruit cacti.  These spots are typically flat but slightly raised compared to adjacent normal areas.  Sometimes these spots have an appearance of a bulls eye (see first picture below).  Other times, this infection can result in multiple irregular spots that may coalesce together (see second picture below).  This disease may first present as yellow areas on a branch that then develop the darker spots mentioned above. This disease does not seem to be deadly but has been reported to decrease plant vigor and fruit production by up to 44%.  Because of unsterile pruning practices, this disease has become rather common in many parts of the world.

Other plants with this Botryosphaeria dothidea infection:

Apparently, this infection can impact a lot of other plants too. For example, the first article to describe this disease in Dragon Fruit also states that, “This same fungus has been previously reported to cause panicle and shoot blight and canker diseases of pistachio, peach, apple, forest trees, chaparral bushes, and many other plant species.”  In rhododendron plants, heat stress and drought will increase the severity of the disease.  Since we don’t have a lot of data for dragon fruit, we could look to how this fungal infection is treated in other plants for insight.

Other plant treatments for Botryosphaeria dothidea:

For walnuts, the UC California Agricultural Research Center, says that for Botryosphaeria dothidea infected walnut trees, you should prune dead branches or blighted shoots and avoid sprinkler irrigation that wets the canopy.   That same walnut reference document lists the fungicides registered for treating Botryosphaeria blight in pistachio trees.  Some of the more effective chemical treatments for pistachio trees listed are the antifungals pyraclostrobin and trifloxystrobin.  As reference, the product Armada 50 WDG Fungicide contains trifloxystrobin and Bonide Chemical Fruit Tree and Plant Guard contains pyraclostrobin.

In addition, according to the USDA Agricultural Research Center, for apples and pears, copper fungicides have proved effective for Botryosphaeria dothidea in Japan.  I am somewhat skeptical that a topical spray could cure this infection.  However, a topical spray is rather appealing and this would be my personal first attempt at treatment.   As another potential option, a systemic antifungal such as thiophanate-methyl might also work.  The problem with systemics is that they will kill a lot of other good fungi in the soil.  Overall, studies are still underway for Dragon Fruit and (to my knowledge) there is nothing definite for them yet.

Botryosphaeria dothidea spread:

This fungi, (and other plant infections) can be spread by trimming/pruning tools that have not been sterilized between plants. Direct contact between plants can also be a way to spread disease.

There are also sap sucking bugs can also spread disease. Specifically, bugs in the Leptoglossus genus (aka leaffooted bugs) have been known to be a vector that can spread the Botryosphaeria dothidea fungus to other plants. I caught a pic of a Leptoglossus sucking on a flower-bud of one of my Cereus Cacti. The one in the pic below looks a lot like Leptoglossus occidentalis. However, That particular one is said to feed on pine, so it must be some other close relative. Regardless, this genus is a bunch of destructive sapsuckers that can spread disease and are not welcomed. The University of California has a nice short article about what to do about the leaffooted bugs (if you are a pistachio farmer)… but same ideas apply.

For additional reading:

For additional reading on this topic, I have listed some scientific journal references on this Botryosphaeria dothidea fungal infection.

Brown lesions on dragon fruit Dragon Fruit Diseases

‘Fish eye’ lesion caused by Botryospaheria dothidea. Photo from the journal article titled, “A brief overview on pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) diseases.” (July 2013, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 437-440)

 

Brown spots on dragon fruit stems. Dragon Fruit Diseases

Dragon Fruit symptoms of stem spots caused by Botryosphaeria dothidea. Image from the journal article titled “Conidial germination of Botryosphaeria dothidea and histological alterations on stems of pitahaya (Hylocereus undatus H.) (Haworth) Britton & Rose.” (Rev. Fac. Cienc. Agrar., Univ. Nac. Cuyo vol.45 no.1 Mendoza ene. jun. 2013)

 

Bug spreads dragon fruit, Hylocereus, and Cereus cactus disease

The sap sucking Leptoglossus sp have been known to be a vector that can spread the Botryosphaeria dothidea fungus to other plants.  In this pic above, I believe this insect-parasite which is drinking from my Cereus Cacti might be the specific bug known as Leptoglossus occidentalis). Bastard!

 

Spot disease of Ric Rac Orchid Cactus, Fishbone Cactus, St. Anthony's Rick-Rack (Selenicereus anthonyanus)

This spot disease (Botryosphaeria dothidea) can also infect many other plants/cacti including the ‘Ric Rac cactus’ (Selenicereus anthonyanus). This cactus was happy and healthy inside the house until it was placed outside near an infected Dragon Fruit Cactus. Bummer.

 

Colletotrichum gloesporiodes:

Colletotrichum gloesporiodes (aka Anthracnose) is the name of another fungi that can infect dragon fruit cacti.  The lesions from this fungal infection look like concentric haloes on stems and fruit (see picture below).

  • The journal article, A brief overview on pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) diseases discusses this disease briefly.
Yellow brown spots on dragon fruit. Dragon Fruit Diseases

Concentric haloes from Colletotrichum gloesporiodes. Photo from the journal article titled, “A brief overview on pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) diseases.” (July 2013, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 437-440).

 

Bipolaris cactivora:

Yet another fungal pathogen has the scientific name Bipolaris cactivora.  This disease can cause black-brown spots on dragon fruit flowers and fruit.  This infection can also cause branch/stem rot.

Spots on dragon fruit. Dragon Fruit Diseases

Brown, depressed lesions which may expand to form large areas of rot on flowers and fruits caused by Bipolaris cactivora. Photo from the journal article titled, “A brief overview on pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) diseases.” (July 2013, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 437-440)

 

Dragon fruit branch rot. Dragon Fruit Diseases

Dragon Fruit branches with ‘dry stem rot’ caused by Bipolaris cactivora. Image from the article titled, “First report of Bipolaris cactivora causing fruit blotch and stem rot of dragon fruit pitaya in Israel.” (Phytoparasitica; April 2011, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 195-197)

 

Cactus virus X:

‘Cactus Virus X’ causes blotchy chlorotic spots, mottling, necrosis and yellowing on dragon fruit cactus stems (see picture below).  The pattern of of light and dark green areas on a branch is sometimes referred to as a mosaic pattern.  As far as I know, there is not much you can currently do for a viral infection such as this.

Cactus Virus X on Dragon fruit stem. Dragon Fruit Diseases.

‘Cactus Virus X’ on Dragon fruit stem. Image sourced via an online ppt from Deborah Mathews, Ph.D at UC Riverside

 

Stem soft rot caused by Enterobacteria:

This wet rotting disease typically infects the ends of dragon fruit branches.  This infection is caused by the gram negative bacteria called Enterobacteria.  I have seen this type of thing burn itself out and I have also seen it take over a plant.  To be safe, I would cut off the diseased branch(es) at a point where there was no visible sign of disease.  Then carefully dispose of the sick branch and sterilize your cutting tools when done.  Studies have shown that the rotting appears 15 days after inoculation with the bacteria.  Apparently, plants deficient in calcium and nitrogen may develop more severe symptoms.  On that note, keeping your Dragon Fruit cacti healthy may help you to avoid this disease.

  • Additional info about this rotting infection can also be found on the article titled, A brief overview on pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) diseases.
We rot on dragon fruit stems. Dragon Fruit Diseases

Symptoms of ‘soft rot’ from Enterobacteria infection. Images from the journal article titled, “A brief overview on pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) diseases.” (July 2013, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 437-440)

 

Disease transmission:

All infectious diseases can-and-will be transmitted from plant to plant by pruning/trimming tools.   There is also a strong possibility that these diseases can also be spread by direct contact of roots and stems that touch each other.  Some insects (such as Leptoglossus sp mentioned above), can also spread infectious disease from plant to plant.

For some difficult diseases, many have advocated destroying infected plants and starting over in a different location.  Your best bet is prevention; inspect plants before you buy and keep your tools clean. On that note….

Sterilize your pruners!

  • It is really important to sterilize your trimmers/pruners between plants.  There are many infectious plant diseases that are unknowingly spread from plant to plant by cutting/trimming instruments.   This is true for any plant, but particularly so for Dragon Fruit cacti… many of which have been infected with systemic diseases because of sub-optimal sanitizing techniques.
  • There are a many sanitizing options including household cleaning solutions, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals only need to be applied to the cutting blade. Many of these liquids require some application time before they are adequately sterilized.
  • Another faster option is heat sterilization of your cutting blade with something such as a small hand held torch. The torch technique, is convenient and fast, but obviously results in the tips of your trimmers being hot… Which are then a potential burn hazard to you and to your plants… as well as being a general fire hazard.   Definitely don’t try burning things in your garden/yard if you are in a fire danger area (which is most of California).  And my favorite disclaimer of all,  “don’t try this at home.”
  • Interestingly, I just found this other tool that actually spritzes your hand pruners with sterilizing fluid with each cut. I have no idea how well this product works, but it is an interesting take on addressing the problem. For reference, here is a link to that product Hand Pruners with Spray Applicator.
  • While I was getting my hair cut today another thought came to mind.  I wonder if that Barbicide chemical they put hair cutting scissors in would also kill unwanted plant microbes.  Seems like it should do the job, and apparently it is fully biodegradable.  All of that said, I have never heard of anyone else using a barbers/hair salon disinfectant such as Barbicide for this purpose.

Noninfectious injury:

Sunburn:

Sunburn can have an appearance similar to some of the other diseases listed below. Sunburn can be a problem when a plant is moved quickly from a shady area to a full sun location. Growing in areas of more intense sunlight such as the desert can also lead to sunburn injury.

This injury may present as areas of yellowing, corking, scabbing and pealing.  You can expect this injury to be seen on the most sun exposed sides of the plant (South/top of the plant).  On that note, sunburn can also sometimes look very similar to Botryospaheria dothidea infection. However, the distribution of the stem lesions should be different. Specifically, if something looks questionable but is on the under-surface of a plant, then it is not sunburn.  In this situation, you should consider one of the infectious diseases listed above as the cause.

Cacti disease Hylocereus

Sunburn on a Cereus Cactus branch.  This branch turned and is now lying on the ground resulting in a sudden increase in sun exposure to just one part of the branch.  The same thing can happen to Dragon Fruit cacti. Note, only the most sun exposed side of the branch got sunburn.

 

Cactus pealing disease

Close up of the same sunburn seen above on a Cereus cactus branch.

Phototoxicity:

Sunburn problems similar to the above can also be the result of increased sensitivity to sunlight from topical chemicals. This phototoxixcity is classically the result of spray chemicals such as horticulture oils, fungicides, insecticides, etc which can increase sensitivity to the sun.  By example, this type of increased sensitivity to the sun can also happen to us people as a result of topical exposure to oils and juice from citrus (esp limes).

This topical cactus injury results in a scar on a branch from a short term chemical exposure + sun. Once the offending agent is removed, the problem should not spread.  This lack of spreading after removing the chemicals is another way to help differentiate between sun injury and infection.

 

Corking:

Corking is a normal part of cacti aging. In this process, lower parts of the plant often mature-change to a hard, dry, grey bark-like appearance.  This should first occur from the bottom of a plant and slowly work its way up from there.  If a process does not follow this slow ‘bottom-up’ progression, then it is probably not corking.

About Thomas Osborne, MD

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

53 comments

  1. Hi Dr.,

    I wish you would leave a reply box within each blog you write. This reply does not concern Dragon Fruit, instead I’m adding some information on Mosquitos. Please insert this into your blog on them. I use crumbled Neem leaves in my rain barrels and any other standing water. Also if you distill Neem leaves in water for a day or so you can use it as a pesticide spray on yourself (is does smell pretty bad, but it works).

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Steve
      Thanks for the great comment and awesome idea.
      Genius really… I wasnt aware that the chemicals in the leaves was strong enough to kill the insects when diluted in water like that
      Do you grow Neem trees?
      If not, where do you get your Neem leaves?

      Sorry you were not able to add a comment to the bottom of the mosquito article. I am looking at that article now on another browser and I see there are several other comments on that mosquito article. Must be some strange glitch. If you could try looking at the end of that article again to see if it is working now, that would be great. Thanks.

      Thanks!

  2. Capt. Michael Buzzard

    Dr.,
    I am located on the central coast of California about 3 miles from the beach with marine layer prevalent most of the year. My Pink Dragon Fruit are planted in full sun. The plant is approximately 6 years old and was started from a cutting. I fertilize only with well composted Chicken manure, and have been fertilizing 3 times a year fall, spring and mid-summer. The plant at 3 years developed 1 fruit, at 4 years 3 fruits, at 5 years 5 fruits. Now in the 6th year I counted 10 blossoms. My questions are would you advise: (1) I thin the blossoms? (2) should I prune some of the “wild branches” at this time? (3) should I apply fertilizer during the blossoming stage? (4) I have some Botryosphaeria dothidea spots and thought to apply Neem Oil during the blossoming stage. I am opposed to using a systemic due to contamination of the soil and ultimately the fruit ….. your thoughts?
    Thanks in advance for you reply.
    Buzz

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Buzz

      Thanks for the great questions.
      Overall, my approach is more of a treat well and let it be ‘laissez faire‘ attitude.

      Per your questions:
      (1) I dont thin out the blossoms. I figure the more cross pollination material floating around out there the better.

      (2) I do sometimes prune the wild branches, but more for propagating others and for general practical navigation/aesthetics. There are some who say that cutting back branches just before flowering and/or fruiting will help with production. However, I have not found that to be the case myself.

      (3) I have some organic fertilizer brewing just about all year long. I tend to amp up in the spring and early summer to match nitrogen needs of growth. I know fertilizing can help/hurt some other plants fruit production at flowering time. However, I dont have any direct observational experience to know either way. In the wild, these plants are often growing in the tops of jungle trees and likely get bird pooped-on all year. So, I would be surprised if it would impact fruiting. But I really dont know. Please let us know if you happen to find any info on the subject.

      (4) Yea, I would also like to get to the bottom of the Botryosphaeria diothidea treatment plan. Here is what I know so far.
      I have no idea if neem would work. However, I suspect that the disease is at least somewhat present deep in the tissue and the superficial neem may not make it that deep into the plant.

      Last year, I took some new growth cuttings from otherwise infected plants. These cuttings did not have any external signs of the disease when I took the cuttings. They have been growing in isolation in the other side of the property and so fat only 2 out of 10 have a few spots on them. This suggests to me that the disease is not completely systemic.

      I also suspect (just my guess) that the spots represent the site where sap sucking bugs take a bite and deposit the infection. That would explain the spots in areas where parasitic bugs are likely to be feeding.

      Finally, I have been in contact with a plant pathologist with the California agriculture department about this disease to get some concrete data because there is all kinds of unsupported info out there about how to deal with it. Anyways, I submitted some infected plant samples last week so I am just waiting for a reply. Ill let you know what I discover.

      Best,
      Tom

      • baziz@excelag.com

        It would interesting to look at usage of organic pesticides which are from vegetal oils.There are 2 products yu can look at from ExcelAg of Miami Florida USA
        .
        CYCLOPS WHICH IS A FUNGICIDE AND
        BACTREX WHICH IS BACTERICIDE
        THERE IS ALSO THE AVAILABILITY OF ORGANIC BIOSTIMULANT WHICH CONTAINS CALCIUM AND NITROGEN—EVERGREEN ORG ,MAGNET ORG AND SAETA.

    • Hello Michael, Lincoln here from Nicholas Dragon Fruit. We have a commercial crop of over 10 dragon fruit varieties based in Queensland, Australia. I may be able to help be able to answer your questions, some of which are closely related.

      It is fine to apply fertilizer during blossoming season. However, specific requirements of the plant must be kept in mind. During blossoming, a fertilizer made up of 2 parts Potassium to 1 part Nitrogen and 1 part Phosphorous is essential. During growth season this is reversed to, 2 parts nitrogen to 1 part phosphorous and 1 part potassium to feed what is mainly nitrogenous “green” growth. Chicken manure will not provide the needed potassium and excess nitrogen during blossoming will inhibit blossoming.
      Given the correct nutrients most segments of each leaf will blossom leaving you no option but to thin some – to what extent is at your discretion, as the less blossoms you have the larger the fruit will be if pollinated correctly.
      Pruning should be undertaken during growth season to achieve desired training and optimal growth as well as avoiding transmission of infectious material to blossoms and therefore the fruit.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Thank you Lincoln! Awesome valuable information.
        I added the info from your comment to the article on getting dragon fruit to fruit.
        I gave you full credit and provided your weblink.
        Thanks again!
        Tom

      • Michael Buzzard

        Thanks for the information. I have only fertilized with chicken manure and just last month added Dr. Earth Vegetable fertilizer. I am anxious to see what will transpire this yer. 2016 yield was 12 fully developed fruits on one older plant and 1 fruit on a 1 year old plant!

      • Hi Lincoln from Nicolas Dragonfruit,
        (Thomas, I can’t find his weblink info)
        I’ve been trying to research to find out more info about growing requirements
        such as pH, salinity tolerance, nutrition, soil needs…etc
        I wanted to see if you can give some references or more info for my dragon fruit plants.

        Ive had 6 plants, both red and white from different sources, for a year
        Now about 6 feet tall. A few are skinny but have grown 2-3 feet since i got them and haven’t glowered. The other cuttings grow slower, one flower bud that fell off. No flowers this year.

        What am i doing wrong…

        • Sorry forgot to say I’m in southern California hot summers
          Im planning on putting up sun shade for the plants (20% reduction of sun) or even considering painting on sunscreen on the plants. What do you think

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Jenifer
            Thanks for the questions.
            I have been growing dragon fruit for many years in Southern California.
            It can definitely be challenging to try to figure out their growing preferences on your own.

            However, with the help of insight many others, (and personal trial and error), I have created an article dedicated to successfully growing Dragon fruit- cactus for fruit.
            Check our the article below for more info.
            How to get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus to Fruit

            Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions not covered in the article.

            Thanks!
            Tom

  3. Hamid reza Alidadi

    hi.
    I plant pitaya behind my window and its about 3 month old the height is 14 centimeter and .5 centimeter wide .its very soft I make a grow area with lamp with more than 35 centigrade degree and 7000 lumen ful spectrum light with air freshner but when the lamp is off pitaya get too soft and fall down plant on the edge of the pot and I must to belt it I water it every time saw the soil is dry the soil is peatmoss .is it a disease or water problem or light problem or?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Hamid
      Good question.
      It is hard for me to tell for sure based on just a written description.
      However, it sounds like your plant might be dehydrated.
      A well watered dragon fruit cactus will be firm.

      Although these plants are cacti, they need much more water than your typical desert cactus.
      However, you can also over water them if not careful.
      They do best with frequent deep watering. The frequency of watering will depend on the environment, however, you dont want the soil to get bone dry. The soil should also be rich and well draining.

      Best of luck,
      Tom

    • hi hamid

      You’re living in Iran?

  4. Hi Tom,

    Our dragon fruit cactus fruit season was over by November. But infections are all over cactus strands. Friend suggested treatment with water soaked with Neem leaves. Effect is random, some cactus branch have been cleared of infections but others still have spots or soft brown segments.

    I look forward to more effective remedial measures, and will appreciate your advise.

    Ernest Leung, Angeles, Philippines.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Ernest
      Thanks for the note.
      What type of disease do you have?
      You mentioned spots and soft areas; spots makes me think possible Botryosphaeria dothidea infection, and the soft areas could potentially be Enterobacteria infection.
      (Since they are caused by different types of infections, there are different treatment options for each).
      Best,
      Tom

  5. This is great information. I live in St. Lucie County, Florida and am working on raising a few. Some are doing better then others, I wish I knew someone close to me with experience that could help, lol. Please keep this information highway open!!! Thank you

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the great feedback Michele
      Your also fortunate; Florida provides a great climate for dragon fruit.
      Best,
      Tom

  6. Hi Thomas
    I am Situated in the Northern Part of South Africa in the sub-tropical town of Tzaneen. We have extremely favorable climate for growing dragonfruit.
    I have noticed one of my plants to develop a soft rot in the middle of the base like an insect caused injury. the whole base rot I scratched it open and covered it with antiseptic pruning liquid and it seemed to stop the infection. although the whole one side of the plant rot away. I do have pictures. Please I am just concerned about it being the beginning of an epidemic. It is very hard for us to get cuttings and I would really like to keep them safe.
    Please reply with email address to send pictures.
    Best Regards
    Bennie

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Bennie
      Thanks for the note,
      Sorry about your soft-rot problem.
      I have noticed this happening to physically damaged branches (from insects, rubbing, and even cold).
      Sounds like you are doing exactly what I would have done.
      Best,
      Tom

  7. My plants are 1-2 years old and now really growing quickly, no buds yet. Do you know if the flowers and/or fruit will attract raccoons or possums? If so, how do I protect the plants?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Every place/environment will be different.

      However, in my experience:
      If you keep up on things and dont let fruit get over-ripe and drop… then many animals are not tuned into this fruit as a tasty menu option. However, as soon as they do, you have trouble.

      The set-up of your growing area can help:
      Growing in an area without cover/hiding places is a big help for any fruit/veggie growing in this regard.
      The more exposed the growing area is, the less appealing it will be to marauding varmints.

      Wind powered deterrents such as flash-tape or pinwheels is a great nontoxic option of any fruit growing as well.

      Many people report success with raccoon/possum traps, and hunting animal pets, etc as well.

      Thanks!

  8. Forgot to check the “notify me” box for any comments on my potential raccoon/possum problem.

    • We have problems with ground squirrels climbing the plants and eating new shoots, flowers, and fruit. We know it is squirrels because they have left fur behind in the tanglefoot we put up for ants. Rabbits will also chew on the plant’s green parts up to a point they can reach. We have had good success excluding squirrels with 2 gallon and 5 gallon pots wrapped around the post and plant, it is slippery and the squirrels can’t climb over it. Cut out the bottom and slice up one side and you can wrap it around and staple to the post. It works. We wrap aviary wire around the bottom to keep rabbits from chewing on the trunk.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Thank you Ellen
        That is awesome info on how to deal with those darn rodents.
        If you would like me to post some of your pics, Ill do so with your name as reference (if you want, totally optional of course).
        But thanks for sharing your great insight.
        Thanks

  9. Hi, I’m from Orlando FL, MY DRAGON FRUIT is doing very well, but this year I just kill some Beatles eating the flower from out side, but when I cut the flowers o got some inside. How can I kill this with out killing the bees

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Great question Claudio
      Are you able to tell what type of beetles are in there?
      If we knew the species, we might be able to get a specific bug trap for them.
      Thanks,
      T

  10. Hi!

    Great to know that you are growing your dragonfruit at shape.

    I would like to ask. My father had more than 20 sets which has 4×4 cement pole with 5ft height. When I came. Most were affected by Enterobacteria which made most stems rot.

    I have been cutting most of the affected area. But on the top where it was 5ft high. Some yellowish rot are still there and its hard to reach the area so we tried to spray fungicide namely TOPSIN® M 70WP. THIOPHANATE-METHYL FUNGICIDE. 70% on a weekly interval. 4 weeks has gone by and I think not much improvement. The rotting was still there.

    Any suggestions?

  11. robert ayag roxas

    sir i am a small dragon fruit planter here in barangay katipunan, alicia bohol philippines. and i have my own few dragon fruits planted in my backyard, my dragon fruit trees are already one year old and 5 months now, but i’ve noticed that it bears fruit, i think so because i see something’s comes out like small flowers like the one in the video.. but my problem is that the formed friut(after flowering) feel to the ground.. i feel sad when it happens, is there any solution for this, is there a medicine or insecticide to stop the formed small fruits from falling..

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Robert.
      Congrats on getting flowers from your young plants.

      It is pretty common for young plants to drop fruit. This may happen because the plant is just not mature enough yet to support the needs of the growing fruit.

      Even mature plants can drop fruit prematurely. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as sudden changes in weather or soil conditions. I have another article which goes into a lot of this in greater detail. For additional info, please check out that article below.

      Getting dragon fruit cactus to fruit.

      Best,
      Tom

  12. Hi!

    Great to know that you are growing your dragonfruit at shape.

    I would like to ask. My father had more than 20 sets which has 4×4 cement pole with 5ft height. When I came. Most were affected by Enterobacteria which made most stems rot.

    I have been cutting most of the affected area. But on the top where it was 5ft high. Some yellowish rot are still there and its hard to reach the area so we tried to spray fungicide namely TOPSIN® M 70WP. THIOPHANATE-METHYL FUNGICIDE. 70% on a weekly interval. 4 weeks has gone by and I think not much improvement. The rotting was still there.

    Any suggestions?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Michael
      Thanks for the question.
      The best luck I have had is to remove the infected plant material with clean tools… cutting so that only healthy tissue is left behind and cleaning tools/cutters between each cut.
      Good luck!

      • Ok got your point out there.

        Some of the infected parts were the stems nearest to the soil. Which is relatively almost impossible to remove. Which may trigger death of the plant.

        I will try if applying systemic fungicide could help.

        Thanks!

  13. Thanks for the detailed information and pictures! In the time that has passed, have you found an effective treatment for Botryosphaeria? I’m afraid my friend’s prized plants are getting heavily infected…

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Mark. Thanks for the note.

      I have started some informal experimenting to get a better idea about the pathophysiology of Botryospaheria dothidea infection in my dragon fruit.

      First experiment:
      I took some young cuttings that looked ok/clean from a plant that had Botryospaheria spots elsewhere.
      I grew these cuttings in a remote location-away from the otherwise infected mother plant.
      Turns out, these cuttings did really great and for a long time showed no signs of disease.
      So I conclude that the infection is not systemic.

      About a year later they all got infected around the same time, which I am thinking must have been because a vector bug found them. Signs point to Leptoglossus as the carrier… at least in my opinion.

      Therefore, my strong feeling is… that if you address the Leptoglossus (dispose/eliminate them), then you might just halt the spread of the disease. At least that is what I am thinking at this point.

      Thanks!

      • Thanks for the quick and detailed reply!

        There’s a post on gardenweb echoing a similar conclusion- that it’s probably insect initiated or carried. Did you try copper or any other treatment for the existing spots? Doing a quick search, it doesn’t look like Leptoglossus is easily managed, have you had luck with any methods, especially for Southern California?

  14. I moved into a home that already had dragon fruit in the back yard. The previous owners tied it to steaks with twine but you can see that the weight is causeing the twine to cut through the plant and is making grey rings of death on the stalks. I dont want to cut it because the fruit grows at the end still… how can i tie my dragon fruit tree up without killing the stalks?
    Also there are some spots that are brown and the skin is seethrough. I pressed on one and can see liquid and a bubble of air inside. Is this soft rot?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Kaydee
      Thanks for the question.
      Training dragon fruit cactus is important and tricky to do after they are already established.
      Hard to say exactly what would be the best path unless I was there.
      However, in general, I would say go slow and careful.
      I think the ideal is to have them grow up a central support and then drape over a top lattice system.
      If working with what you have, thicker ropes would be less likely to cut into the cactus than thin string.

      If you havent seen it already, this article may be helpful; How to get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus to Fruit

      The brown wet spots you describes do sound like soft rot.

      Best of luck!
      Tom

      • I use cloth “slings” to suppose long, heavy branches that grow sideways before heading downward.

        Wonder why a few of my buds turn yellow, then brown and die off. I had 3 and the middle one died. I had 5 on a branch and the last three died.

  15. Hello there,
    I live in Iran and for the weather there is no dragon fruit tree here.I decided to have on stem last year and after too much efforts finally I receive 9 pitaya stem from Thailand . after 48 days one of them have new shoot(stem).I make very small greenhouse and control temperature and humidity in it(i don’t have any season).now I want to transport it from first pot to big pot.
    I know about different type of fertilizing.
    I have two question:
    1.what is the best fertilizer to have more and delicious yield?in this step(transferring to big pot how can I fertilize them in first year?in the beginning)
    2.what is the best trellis system to have the most quantity?

    for number 1 :
    plants are fertilized with 10 – 15kg of farmyard manure and 100 g of super phosphate/plant at the time of planting. During the first two years, 300 g of urea and 200 g of NPK (16:16:8) is applied to each plant every year.
    how is that?

    • Hi Sina
      Thank you for your note.
      Great important questions.

      All of your great questions should be covered in another one of my articles about growing dragon fruit.
      Please refer to the info in the article How to get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus to Fruit

      Please let me know if you have additional questions after reviewing that article.
      Best of luck!
      Tom

      • Dear Thomas,
        Thank you for your great advice.

        As I grow pitaya in greenhouse and temperature and humidity in the control,first year (2 first year) my plants are in growing season,is it true?

        According to your advice , 2 parts Nitrogen, to 1 part Phosphorous and 1 part Potassium and Chicken manure on top of the soil is best fertilizing.

        you didn’t mentioned how much I can use NPK for each post(3 stem per post).

        Best Regards,
        sina

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Sina
          In their native tropical South America and Central America, these plants live in a more humid environment than what we have in California. However, they do grow well in southern California. Therefore, I think humidity is helpful but not necessary. The most important thing is the temps. They dont seem to like extremes in temperatures. Too cold or too intensely hot will be bad for them.

          The amount of fertilizer is dependent on a variety of factors such as the number pf plants you have, the type of soil you have and the speed of growth related to your specific environment. In general, these plants like fertilizer and organic fertilizer is rather forgiving if you overdo it. I would suggest chicken manure over cow/horse manure (try to avoid using things that tend to have more salts in it). The article I wrote about growing dragon fruit has some more specifics about what optimal concentrations of fertilizer to use at different times. How to get Your Dragon Fruit Cactus to Fruit

          Best of luck!
          Tom

  16. Hello there! I’m from Costa Rica, and I’m working with an endemic cacti from the genus Stenocereus, specifically with S. aragonii. The point here is that I’ve seen an infection, similar to those caused by Botryosphaeria dothidea. I would like to know if you can help me to find some information about this kind of fungal infection in this genus. Thank you very much!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Luis
      Thanks for the question.
      Stenocereus aragonii is an interesting cacti with a very limited native range.
      Thank you for researching this threatened species.

      I dont know of any specific details about S. aragonii and B. dothidea. However, I have seen the infection in other cacti behave in a similar way. Therefore, if I was investigating this situation, I would start with isolating and confirming the organism causing the symptoms. Once you have pathology/cytology etc, then you can start to narrow down the details.

      Based on what I know, I wouldnt be surprised if there is a bug vector spreading the disease to the plants. As it so commonly happens, it could be a non-native bug that has caused the problem.

      If well conducted, you could have a nice research paper out of this. Happy to help collaborate if you like.

      Otherwise, best of luck!
      Tom

  17. Dr. Osborne,
    Thanks for the posts. I read your updated May 2017 on fertilizing the soil.The 1st, 2nd and especially the third year of fruiting was great for DFplants However on the 4th and 5th year it looked as if they were cursed. we gave up removing the bad parts of the 800+plants. Pesticides are very costly. You mentioned about nitrogen and calcium lacking in the soil. Nitrogen maybe easy as it will come from the fish pond. but calcium fertilizer … i can only think of boiling thousands of eggs. Any ideas? Do you think this can be treated? or replanting would be the best option?

    • M. Asbucan, do you have any shellfish processing going on near you? You might be able to get oyster shells that are a waste product of that industry to use as a dressing around your plants, it will slowly release calcium as the shells break down, or you can crush them. We save our eggshells and crush and apply them here on our small farm. I have been looking into shells as another source. I think the idea Dr. Osborne gave you about the insects is very important, because they are active 24/7! Maybe you can find a bird predator of the insect? Best of good fortune to you!

  18. hi sir. grasshopper eats my plant. I do not want to kill them and I need an organic substance that will not harm the plant.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Harun
      Thanks for the question.
      Great to go organic.

      So, if you have time… hand picking bugs is an option that some do. But I wouldn’t do that myself.

      Attracting birds (natural preditor) is a great option.. but takes time.

      The bug spray mix I use for leaf miner might be a great option for you. The link to that article is below.
      Citrus Leafminer: Diagnosis and Treatment

      Best!
      Tom

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