I Pitaya Fool Who Doesn't Grow Dragonfruit From Seed!

Whenever someone tells me that they're a black thumb, I often tell them to try dragonfruit.  Also known as pitaya, dragonfruit is a hemi-epiphytic cactus that produces large and tasty fruits with neon pink skin and a surprising white flesh that's peppered with tiny black seeds. These seeds are really easy to germinate, and the patient gardener will one day be rewarded with a fruit bearing plant of her own!
.


(Special thanks to Matt's Landscape for the photographs of the fruit.)  Most pitaya begins life as a cutting from a named variety.  While rooting cuttings is the fastest way to get your own fruit, seeds are also very easy to start, not to mention incredibly rewarding!  Each fruit has hundreds of seeds, and almost every one of them has the potential to someday become a fruit bearing vine.  Almost every single one of the seeds I planted have sprouted, and each of those seedlings is doing wonderfully to this day.  Although you can get special mixes for this sort of thing, I simply used potting soil.

The big pot to the left contains the seedlings that have just sprouted!

The tiny seedlings emerge with two glossy leaflets, and the stems will slowly begin to grow in their community pot until they need to be divided!



Not only have they gotten lanky, new offshoots have begun to form at the bases of the stems!  I gently untangled the mass of cacti and potted most of them up individually.



I've left some in the community pot, and they're just itching to get planted where there's some sun!  Even though they do well in the shade, they'll never flower on my shady balcony and will eventually have to be trained up trellises in large containers in a warm and sunny spot.  To the left is a full grown and trellised specimen.

For cheap (but run of the mill) hylocereus cutting, look no further than a commonly available grafted neon cactus!  The rootstock is, you guessed it, dragonfruit cactus.  Remove the tacky pink gymnopetalum cactus from the top, repot the rootstock in humus rich soil, and voila! You'll get dark green dragonfruit stems before you know it. 

Since the folks at Matt's Landscape were nice enough to let me share some photos, here are some of the varieties that you can purchase as cuttings!  Growing from seed is fun and all, but its also nice to get a fast growing start of some unusual named varieties like these...

This variety has sexy pink flowers!






Can you think of any good reasons NOT to grow dragonfruit?
.

107 comments:

  1. Whoa! These are beautiful! I'd love to try some from seed, so if you have any to spare, perhaps I could try them? I think the plants themselves are pretty cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How do you get the seeds out for smoothies, and is it possible to dry out the empty fruit (I scooped out the innards) to be a cup, without using an oven and without it rotting? Thanks!

      Delete
    2. Is it possible to dry out the empty fruit skin (I scooped out the innards) to become a cup, without it rotting? Thanks!

      Delete
    3. Be very careful, as I've read that parts of the skin are poisonous.

      Delete
    4. The seeds are quite small and easy to "eat"--think kiwi. Very much like kiwi. There are so many that to get them out of the fruit would require something like pureeing the fruit and straining the mix through something very small. It would likely destroy a lot of the edible matter. Removing seeds is not necessary. Again, think kiwi.

      Delete
    5. Dragonfruit skin is not at all poisonous or toxic. It's safe to eat. I think it's just a natural thing for not only animals, but humans to instinctively view something with bright colours to be toxic or poisonous, that's the very reason the dragonfruit has bright skin, to give the appearance that it's inedible, because if nothing eats your fruits, your seeds make it into the soil and make more plants. Being in a desert the seeds require the moisture from the rotting fruit to germinate and the flesh of the rotting fruit to gain nutrients.

      Delete
  2. Remind me to send you a seedling, Kylee! They're so fun, kind of like snakes squirming out of the container. I love them so!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, I was wondering if you can help me understand why my dragon fruit is growing roots from the top of the plant. I also planting it from the seed and this is the first time I've planting anything so I'm not too sure if that is normal.....they are in pots and I have them inside in the winter any help would be appreciate... my email is terrycat1981@yahoo.com Thanks
      Terry

      Delete
    2. I see this is a recent post and has not yet been replied to. I am not an expert here but this much I know for sure. It is definitely normal and actually probably a very good sign. I recently started growing some from cuttings. Unfortunately they seemed to go through an extra long period of shock since they were mailed to me. It has required me to give them extra special TLC. I am also having to do some extra cutting and rooting to get them from spindly unhealthy starters to large strong healthy plants. It seems that the healthier they look, and better they are growing, the more of these "air roots" as I have seen them called grow. One of them has the roots across the entire length at this time. Probably the healthiest sprout as of yet. It sounds as if they are probably off to a good start. BTW I just decided to try from seed myself just for experimentation as to the difference between the two ways of starting. Hope this helps you and anyone else who might have the same question. Also even though I am new to dragon plants, I have however done a lot in the past with plants, so my advice is at least coming from a knowledge base of many other types of plants.

      Delete
    3. "help me understand why" Forgot that part. :) 1 or the other or both of 2 reasons for this. It acts as a vine and the roots will reach out and attach to porous surfaces in order to climb. Also they are capable of actually drawing moisture and food from above. Spraying periodically with a lightly fertilized water solution can be very beneficial.

      Delete
    4. They grow in the rain forest areas. The air roots are for grabbing onto the surface of the rock or tree they are growing up. They can grow larger and even reproduce by vegetative reproduction.

      Delete
    5. I ordered som seeds of anazon and they was not good. Could i get some from you as well? I love dragon fruit and want to plant some so bad....

      Delete
    6. I ordered som seeds of anazon and they was not good. Could i get some from you as well? I love dragon fruit and want to plant some so bad....

      Delete
    7. Amaz0n and ewbay is not always a good idea for seeds of consumables, cuttings maybe. Try centerofthewebb.com, they specialize in weird and exotic seeds or try stokestropicals.plants.com, I think they sell plants.

      Delete
  3. These grow in my garden, but the darn birds get to them before I do....but one day.....:)

    ReplyDelete
  4. rohrerbot: Do you grow them in containers or in the ground?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cool! I'll have to track down a dragonfruit and give this a shot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Megan: Please give it a try! The fruit happens to be tasty too, so you can't go wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dragonfruit is definitely on my list. I wonder how easily it could be grafted to a fast growing columnar cactus.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Maybe try it on a cereus? Henry Nehrling would graft Christmas cactus to pitaya stems around the turn of the century and he met with success. I'm definitely hoping to try my hand at grafting soon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. LOL! Great title, and, oh, you should be a foot model (hehe). I'll be seed-snatching in the future. I had one of these in my very first ever garden. It had been passed along to me from my mother. I don't think she has it in her garden anymore, though. I had just clean forgotten about it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, did not know the flowers of the dragonfruit are so beautiful! I tried both types of dragonfruit, and love the one with red inner side much better since it is more sweet and juicy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've started seeing them quite a bit in So Cal. I know the University of California was trying to encourage small scale farmers to give them a try because they're a pretty profitable crop.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Those fruit are as beautiful as the flower. What an interesting plant. I'll have to look for dragon fruit to taste. I've never come across one yet. I'm sure there isn't enough sun here at the Path to grow these.

    ReplyDelete
  13. that seals it, I'm in.

    what are my chances of getting it to fruit inside? or outside just in temperate summers? or in a greenhouse?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Floridagirl: Hey I COULD be a foot model! Its funny, because hylocereus used to be much more common as a patio plant in days gone by, probably since they're impossible to kill and root easily... I think its about time for a resurgence!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ami: I really didn't know that the red one was sweeter and juicier! That's pretty good stuff to know when I make my order! :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Fern: Wouldn't it be great if this low maintenance (and low irrigation) crop could break into the mainstream as a healthy and yummy snack? The pink skin makes a perfect package for the refreshing fruit, and it would be a great 'on the go' bite to eat... great in smoothies and sorbet too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thankyou for all the advice and sharing is very nice. live in the uk but am gonna try n grow one on/by a sunny windowsill and take it out on the patio when hot. Dragon fruit is amazing and is super good for you has been involved in scientific trials with many positives health qualities found from the results, recommend looking it up :o)

      Delete
  17. NanaK: Ivette Soler aka the Germinatrix planted them up an entire wall for a project in the tropics! Anyways, they just fruit less without full sun. It might still be worthwhile with dappled light!

    ReplyDelete
  18. MAT kinase: They do well in a greenhouse or in a sunny spot indoors where they get a good bit of direct sun... even if they're in a shady spot they still do well, just produce less flowers/fruit. I originally tried it just for the thrill of it! Pineapple seeds were planted at the same time and they're also doing well.

    ReplyDelete
  19. that was such a fun and inspiring post! where do you find dragonfruit? also, what would happen if you let all those seedling grow in same pot instead of separating them? can't wait to check out more of your cool blog!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Janine: I got dragonfruit at a grocery store as an unusual summer offering, but in SoCal I'm sure you could find it an an Asian market or farmer's market too. If you leave them in the same pot I'm sure they'd just naturally graft to each other and form a big and snakey mass! That could be a cool effect.

    ReplyDelete
  21. RF, I bought a red dragonfruit a few months ago, planted it in and waited... and waited. It hasn't moved a muscle. Not grown, not drooped, not anything. For months! I mulched it, fed it, it has sunshine, lots of rain and sweet kind words. I'm going to start yelling at it soon though.

    Do you have any ideas of how to get it to grow?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have heard that the fruit is soooo yummy! I had no idea that they came from such a beautiful flower and that it was a cactus! You learn something everyday. Being Miss Sassy you think I would have known that....oh well! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is a great post! funny how I used to live where this are native but never thought of growing it. Now I think I must, but dunno if they will grow well here

    ReplyDelete
  24. fer:
    How cold does it get there? It can be grown in a container too... in Southeast Asia there are some beautiful pots used to grow these...

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just stumbled upon your blog and was excited to see this entry in particular. Several weeks ago I got some cuttings of hylocereus undatus 'Dark Star' and hylocereus bruni. I've not checked for roots in several days but h. undatus has started to sprout near the top. I've read it can take as much as two months for rooting so I'm trying to be patient!

    ReplyDelete
  26. melissa:
    Congratulations on your plants! When they do get established you'll be surprised at how quickly the can grow! I need to find some cuttings myself since all of my seedlings came from the same fruit. I'll need another plant for pollination!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Does anyone know where I could get seeds? I know this is an old post!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I found something for you, Laura! http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/dragon_fruit.htm

    ReplyDelete
  29. You can start Dragon Fruit from seed very easily, they germinate very fast once seeds are collected and dried, but few of the seedlings may end up being self pollinating so for that reason many growers start with cloned (proven self pollinating) varieties
    Here are a few that we grow....
    http://mattslandscape.com/hylocereus

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's why I was sure to make that my closing paragraph! "Since the folks at Matt's Landscape were nice enough to let me share some photos, here are some of the varieties that you can purchase as cuttings! Growing from seed is fun and all, but its also nice to get a fast growing start of some unusual named varieties like these..."

      Delete
  30. About how long does it actually take to get fruit set when you start from seed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will take a few years in all likelihood.

      Delete
  31. Hi,

    I love the fruit, it costs around 2$ in Canada, and I wonder if I can have a plant so I found your blog. Is any chance that it will grow and have flowers inside the house?
    Not so much sun during the 6 months of Winter... ;(

    Cory

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure it's possible if you ease them into the sunlight during warmer months, but I would recommend adding some supplemental light. I got some excellent LED and fluorescent lights from sunlight supply!

      Delete
  32. what is the name (variety) of that dragon fruit with pink flowers?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Dear sir,
    How many months it will take to produce fruits from seeded plant.
    regards,
    swamy. ultralite9@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. The flower looks like the Night blooming cereus....do the flowers of dragonfruit also blossom only for one night?

    ReplyDelete
  35. How old will a dragonfruit cactus get? I'm renting a house with one that has grown up into the top of an oak tree, has hanging limbs and limbs that have become air roots over time. The lowest cactus limbs are higher than the roof. The squirrels and citrus rats have always gotten the fruit. I might get some this year from the dangling limb that is at least within range of a ladder. I need to root some cutting, or rather bits tht fall when it storms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous, just read your post about Dragon fruit.Sounds like you have a huge specimen growing in your tree.Think maybe it would be possible to get a cutting from you? You can contact me at maxinerupeter@gmail.com Thank you very much

      Delete
  36. Help me understand what kind of cactus plant I will look for to buy, so I can get a Dragonfruit as fast as posible? I also wonder what is the color of the Dragonfruit plant with pink fruits and white flesh/black seeds?

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey. I had a lil guy gifted to me today. It will be interesting to see if I can coax my lil plant to grow up to full grown cactus.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I have recently tried dragon fruit because my son seems to be on a mission to try every interesting item in the produce section of our local Publix (grocery store). It's pretty good. From what you are saying it sounds like I can just go grab another one and cut a slice and put it in some dirt and I should have some plants in a few weeks. I will give that a try. We thought the fruit was really good. I would like to try the red, since the only one the store had was the white.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Nice article, I planted my Dragon fruit seeds yesterday I have some 100 or so seeds sitting in the starter tray.... I just love this plant. The only problem I have only white Df's available here in India. Could by anyway help me in getting red flesh and yellow skin df seeds. I tried seeds from eBay etc but in vain. They are expensive and waste. May be if u could buy a fruit or something and extract seeds from it and ship em to me. I could reimburse you. Please help me out. I am really itching to get the other two varieties, I have already been disappointed enough.... Really hopingu would help me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have u tried requesting red or yellow dragon fruit from your grocery store? More offten than not they will order& cerry the produce when asked....then its no riak to you & the seeds are fresh.

      Delete
    2. Aditya, I am based in Bangalore...was wondering if you have by now been able to get the seeds or plants locally. If so, please share info on local sources. Thanks

      Delete
  40. Any idea if the white will grow outside on the oregon coast?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous,just read your post about Dragon fruit.Sounds like U have a huge speciman growing in your tree.Would it be possible to get a cutting from you.Would be very thankful.

      Delete
  41. I AM in sunny Malaysia! I'm definitely going to plant this wonderful fruit! I can't wait.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Aditya Sooden, I'll gladly post u some red df seeds. Catch me on fb: Akmar Hassan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. is the offer still open????? I know its late, but i somehow stumbled upon this post again and read this comment.

      Delete
  43. Could red dragon fruit survive in South Australia in the garden where temperatures in summer can reach up into the 40 and the sun be really scorching hot?

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hi can it grow in the uk London ? or where can I buy the red flesh fruit one- actually the one that looks bright pink flesh is that the red one in your photos above. thks
    sha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can grow it as a houseplant, but the idea of trying to grow for fruit production in the UK is frankly ridiculous without the help of a heated greenhouse or conservatory, and even then i'm not sure it would be worth the effort.

      Delete
  45. Hi I am looking to buy red (amazing bright pink/purple looking flesh pitaya Does anyone know if I can buy frozen pulp in the UK ?

    thks sha

    ReplyDelete
  46. I couldn't believe those super tiny seeds would germinate, but I put them on a wet paper towel, stuck them in a sandwich bag, put them on top of the refrigerator and they did!!! I've got about 6 long arms of it growing in a pot. I need to cut them, put them in individual pots and stake them straight.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I've got a very healthy dragon fruit plant growing in my window in winnipeg , Manitoba ! Started it from seed .
    The posts have really helped me understand so much about this amazing plant !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, I was wondering what variety your DF plant is, and how old is it? I have DF seedlings I started 07/2014 they're quite large already! Would you happen to kno where I might find the red & the magenta fleshed DF varieties in winnipeg?

      Delete
  48. im so glad i found this, its been quite challenging to find out about growing dragon fruit. this helped answer some questions. thanks for writing this!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Today I planted some dragon fruit seeds I purchased from Amazon. I really hope that they germinate and grow really big. I would love to have dragon fruit of my own some day. Here in Vegas depending on where you go to buy the fruit, its at least $10 per fruit.

    ReplyDelete
  50. What is the shelf-life of dragon fruit seeds?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't say for sure, but I would imagine freshest is best.

      Delete
  51. dragon plant bear a flower, but dried up, will I still see the fruit from this plant?

    ReplyDelete
  52. In the UK you can buy all 3 mainstream species in ASDA. The deep purple is my fav. They are usualy next to some other pretty strange fruit. Only i planted some dragon fruit seeds a week or so ago but no joy. Hoping there not a sterile specimen. Any advice on how to get them going ???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry I took so long to reply. Did the seeds come up?

      Delete
  53. Alright. It's official, I'm getting some seeds one way, shape, or form and panting some. We can keep it in a possible fern pot, correct? I live in an apartment and don't have the ability to plant it in the ground.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I am looking to start these, but with the weather extremes in northern Texas where it can get really hot in the summer and very harsh winters, what is your opinion on growing this plant. In a pot on patio and what about the winter? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A pot would definitely be ideal where it freezes!

      Delete
  55. Hi,

    I planted some dragon fruit seeds 2-3 weeks ago. Many have sprouted. Some are short with 2 leaves, thorny tops and thick stem. They are growing straight up. Most are tall and thin with 2 leaves but no thorns. They have fallen under their own weight. Are they all "good" seedlings or should I be discarding some? How long should I wait?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They should be absolutely fine! They can be a bit lanky in shade since the seedlings are searching for the light but they will still grow.

      Delete
  56. Hello,

    I had published a query earlier but it has not got posted yet. Don't know if it was due to some technical issue that it is not reflected.
    My query is this: I have planted dragon fruit seeds in a pot. It is around 3 weeks now. Some have sprouted as short and thorny plants. But most are long with no thorns on them. These long seedlings fall back to the ground. My questions are:-
    1. What is the difference between the 2? Are they male & female plants?
    2. Will the long ones eventually develop into dragon fruit? Should I monitor them and if so for how much longer?

    Thanks & Regards,
    Kim.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Here in Canada, you can buy fruits in store :) of course with seeds

    ReplyDelete
  58. How long do the plants stay in the two-leaf stage? I planted some seeds and they sprouted the two leaves, then don't seem to have changed at all in the past few months. I have them on a window sill so I'm wondering if they're not getting enough sun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine are the same. Just two little leaves and nothing more. They are outside in Louisiana, direct sun. It has been, at the least, a couple of weeks since the two leaves sprouted. Have yours changed at all?

      Delete
    2. Barely. It's been at least 10 months. Two little leaves and a short little stem with tiny cactus spines in between. The longest one is about 2 cm. I started out with probably two dozen and am down to 3. They are extremely delicate and sensitive to being moved. If I water one and it falls over, it'll usually die. If the loose dirt around the root is disturbed, it'll die. Most of them never developed the little stem in the middle and eventually died.

      Delete
  59. How long do the plants stay in the two-leaf stage? My seeds sprouted the two leaves then don't seem to have changed at all in the past few months. I have them on a window sill so maybe they're not getting enough sun.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Do you sell dragon seeds or plants? From where are you, because I'm also want to grow dragon fruit

    ReplyDelete
  61. Hi, the problem with Pitahaya are the SPINES. For commercial cultivation, spineless Pitahaya will be good. It is the best fruit I tasted in Peru- the variant that grows on rocky slopes in the Utcubamva valley ( few spines). We found a NEW possibly endemic species now in Dry forest that has nearly NO SPINES. So it would be perfect for cultivation. Will dedicate some time in growing this one to see how this fruit will be.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Hi there, I have grown seedlings and they seemed to do pretty well. I put them outside, I must say we have winter at the momenta but at the coast we do not know frost. All of a sudden my seedlings loose color are almost white. What is going wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you put them in direct sun too quickly?

      Delete
  63. Curious . . . is the dragonfruit/pitahaya plant a cactus with pricks all over its stem?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes very spiny , and they need to be fertilized and held up on some stakes, read more to find out details.

      Delete
  64. The dark purple variety are very tasty ,light color very insipid taste, , , commercially the dark ones are much higher price.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Wow!!! I have one that I started from a clone but I think the transplanting has shocked it and now its growth is VERY slow! Perhaps you would have a plant that I could try to grow for comparing and contrasting the two types of ways to grow them?

    ReplyDelete
  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I really want to grow some in my home but I never find plant,seeds,or fruits around me to try it

    ReplyDelete
  68. I really want to grow some in my home but I never find plant,seeds,or fruits around me to try it

    ReplyDelete
  69. Is Matt's landscaping loathed in Fresno CA?

    ReplyDelete
  70. Is Matt's landscaping loathed in Fresno CA?

    ReplyDelete
  71. I just bought some cuttings from a nursery. i am so looking forward to this.

    ReplyDelete
  72. So, I started some stem cuttings from a local backyard grower. Plus, I found one plant potted and discarded by the side of the road. Some of my plants are producing fruit. But at least one plant is only producing flowers. Is it possible this one plant is a "male" only plant... and never to produce fruit?

    ReplyDelete
  73. Just a quick question, is it okay to plant the dragon fruit seedling's cotyledons under the soil? I repotted my seedlings after a year so they had fresh soil, and I planted them all about 1/2 inch deep so I could get more roots. I'm just worried that those cotyledons would rot and hurt my plants.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I'm in NW Ct. and my seedlings push out of the soil and then just stop growing, they're still green and alive, just not growing. They get about 6/7 hrs. of sun a day and I generally ignore them until I think they may be on the verge of dehydration. They were planted about 4 months ago, in a pot outside. What am I doing wrong?

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to share your questions, ideas and suggestions!