I saw a new technique for growing them which looks excellent. They used a coco coir pole. Using this method, dragon fruit roots absorb more nutrients in the coir poles when being fertilized instead of cement poles. (Coir is the outer husk of the Coconut). Ref: Sheryl Backhouse
Getting size in your Pitaya I do think that putting mist heads over them so they can be irrigated during the dry season is important – the fruit don’t seem to size up without fairly regular watering. Ref: Stephen – Florida.
Pollinating Pitaya You can keep pollens from different cultivars in freezer – they seem to last a few weeks.
Dragon Fruit can last for up to 2-3 weeks in a plastic bag if kept in the refrigerator. You can also freeze dragon fruit but the texture will be altered and it will best be used in a sauce or sorbet.
In Vietnam Pitaya are grown on square concrete posts 1½ mtrs above ground, 25cms thick, 3 mtrs apart and cuttings are grown on all four sides and then taped to the post. With this particular variety when they reach the top, they just trail down. There are no wires between the posts for them to climb along. Ref: Sheryl Backhouse
In the Philippines some farms are using plastic mulch. This helps preserve soil moisture and reduces the growth of weeds. This not only decreases irrigation but also the labour costs for weeding. Concrete posts are preferable to wooden posts in terms of durability.
Overwatering or excessive rainfall can cause the flowers to drop and fruit to rot. Birds can be a nuisance. The bacterium Xanthomonas campestris causes the stems to rot. Dothiorella fungi can cause brown spots on the fruit, but this is not common. Ref: Wikipedia
Pitahaya flowering but not fruiting There is a tendency for young fruit or flowers to turn yellow and drop off after rain. This can be reduced or prevented using minerals like calcium or plant vitamins to bolster health. You might try placing an iron additive around the base of a few to see if that cures the “yellow” condition…
We had a bad case of rust which took 3 months spraying every 3 weeks with mancozeb to clear. Any one needs help with rust it is the only product that worked with white oil to stop pests.
Yellow Pitaya: At the last meeting, Jim Wyman bought in some yellow Pitaya which were so sweet! I asked him what he did and he said: “I have clay soil, give them a little Nitrophoska in spring, a handful of Potash when fruiting, they like lots of horse and cow manure and I just brush off the spines when the fruit look ripe on the plant”. Ref: Sheryl Backhouse
Graham Reinders mentions that to achieve higher brix levels in Pitaya, try bumping the sulphur content of your nutrient up a bit. It is the main flavour giver. Bumping CO2 is not a good idea unless you maximize all the other plant inputs. I have bumped the CO2 up to 1500 ppm in a high yield greenhouse and can get about 30% yield increase, however the plant only does as well as the LIMITING input of the 20 or so required, so any one lacking negates all the other good work.
When do you pick Pithaya? If it is for your own consumption, the right time will be when the bud (the end where the flowery part drops off) has begun to show signs of a crack. This means the fruit is ripe. If you leave this be, the fruit will start showing signs of cracking in the middle part. This is sign of the final stage of fruit development in terms of ripeness. Sweetness is dependent not only on ripeness but variety/species and type of nutrient uptake. If you have all the N, P, K, Mr, Trace Elements and Humic Acid at par – adding a little bit of Sulphur based plant nutrient will improve the Brix index. Ref: Surjan Singh Kuala Lumpur
Flowering issue Bob Cosgrove reports that he’s had great success in getting his Pitaya to come into flowering by hanging a stocking over the plant with two handfuls of fowl manure and 1dsp of potassium inside so when it rains, it’s getting fertilised!
Besides the Cracker Dust and Fowl Manure we give them an NPK dressing every 6 weeks so after the water and fertiliser, these will really start to bud everywhere in 2-3 weeks. They need a heavy structure to support them. Large upright posts and a post-rail on top and perhaps put in 2 rows a metre apart so they can go over each side. When they get too large, just go through with a cane knife and hack them off. Ref: Bob Brinsmead – Tropical Fruit World
Overwatering or excessive rainfall can cause the flowers to dropand fruit to rot. Birds can be a nuisance. The bacterium Xanthomonas campestris causes the stems to rot. Dothiorella fungi can cause brown spots on the fruit, but this is not common. Ref: Wikipedia
Pitaya flowering but not fruiting. There is a tendency for young fruit or flowers to turn yellow and drop off after rain. This can be reduced or prevented using minerals like calcium or plant vitamins to bolster health. You might try placing an iron additive around the base of a few to see if that cures the “yellow” condition…
We had a bad case of rust which took 3 months spraying every 3 weeks with mancozeb to clear. Anyone that needs help with rust it is the only product that worked with white oil to stop pests. Ref: Roslyn
Pitaya in Pots I initially went the “60cm basin” route and after a few years I had to move. I had 2¼ mtr bamboo posts stayed to the rim of the basin and four plants in each. After my move I kept them in pots and all their lives they did better than those I planted in the ground because I had used a “light” mix of growing medium, no sand or clay. Remember in their native condition they are feeding from the leaves and detritus off the trees they grow under, not heavy soils. The roots are fibrous with no tap roots and they never go deeper than what hypothetically would be the detritus layer, may 8 -12 inches. Moving them was heavy and difficult but not impossible. As soon as you get a permanent place, take very long cuttings off the basin plants and you will have an orchard in no time. Ref: Graham Reindeer
Transplanting Dragon Fruit Be careful when digging though. Dragonfruit roots tend to go out, not down. Start by wetting the area as much as you can to get the soil loose, then about 60cm away from your plant, stick a spade shovel all the way down into the dirt, and pry up the soil, do this all the way around. Hit the dirt with the hose again, watching for roots, then move your shovel in closer, rinse and repeat. Once you get to the plant itself, you should be able to just pull it out of the ground, but make sure you have enough support on the branches so they don’t snap in the process. Cheap PVC pipe and tying tape makes for excellent bracing. I ve moved entire mature plants this way, and it helped minimize the damage and loss. Ref: Pitaya yahoogroup
To remove prickles on the Yellow Pitaya: Get an old kitchen brush and the prickles all fall out. The prickles will even go through leather gloves!
Robert Patterson – Tropical Fruit Forum In response to the issue of chemicals and fertilizing not being responsible for inducing flowering, and long light periods being the trigger that is both correct and incorrect. Photosynthesis, the organic process of molecular, uses light, most notably sunlight, as one component of the biology of growth and reproduction in plants. Chemistry is the other. But you need both. And, you can dramatically affect outcome by manipulation of either. Plants generally do not use materials pulled from the soil (or air) directly to grow; they combine molecules and compounds into more complex chemicals, through photosynthesis, and use those as building blocks for cell walls, sugars, etc. However, if you grow plants in nutrient starved soil, you will have weak or slow growing plants, because their nutrient intake is retarded to the point that the plant cannot produce new materials as fast as it normally would, in normal soil. Now, if you take that same plant, and grow it in soil far more nutrient dense than its normal soil, you will see greater and faster plant growth than you would from a normal plant, and it would skyrocket into being compared to the plant in poor soil. It is possible to over fertilize a plant, especially using chemical fertilizer, but that another topic. It is possible to achieve almost the exact same results by varying the amount of sunlight plants receive. Too little sun, plants grow slowly, too much and they can wilt or burn. We know certain species of pitaya are more sun sensitive than others, so we know that proper sunlight plays a very key role in pitaya health. But here’s where the chemistry comes in. Sunlight converts key chemicals in pitaya into growth hormones, both for flowers and branches. The length of day can also determine the “type” of sunlight plants receive, which is referred to light frequency, or “long day” light. There is a particular wavelength in visible light that is said to promote growth and photosynthesis, and at the peak of summer, when the days are longest, the “good light” is most available, naturally. However, that light is always there, just in varying amounts, depending on time of year. For the sake of argument, when I say “sunlight”, that’s what I’m referring to. So, if you have X amount of sunlight per day, and Y amount of available chemistry to work with, your chances of producing a flowering bud is X+Y. Take away half the sunlight your plant should get to be healthy, and now you lower the chance of getting a flower bud. Increase the sunlight per day (without overdosing your plants) and you increase the chances of flower creation. The same ratio works for the chemistry also. More of the key nutrients should give your plants a better chance to produce flower in less sunlight, simply because they have more raw materials to convert over to the proper hormones at any one time. I know for a fact that flowers occur, without artificial light, in late winter/early spring here in California. Linda and Gerry’s orchard in Fallbrook had so many early blooms this year, some plants producing 15 flowers per branch that I was concerned the health of their plants might be affected. I personally had a few flowers show up in February, which was unfortunate because they were on a self-sterile variety, so it can happen. But can a chemical or fertilizer induce flowering on its own? If the remainder of the conditions are bad, but not impossible, I’d have to go with yes. You might not get a bumper crop off season, but less is more than none.