The Pitaya is a specimen for dry tropical climates. Excessive rain leads to flower drop and fruit rot. Hardy to short frosts. Maximum tembetatures around 100F. Plants have aerial roots and originally exist as epiphytes. Aerial roots find nutritients in cracks where organic material concentrates. Propagation by stem cuttings. Flowers at night (one night only). Many species of pitaya are self-sterile, so moths and bets are required for cross-pollination. Pitaya are fast growing, perennial, terrestrial, epiphytic, vine-like cacti. They have triangular (3-sided, sometimes 4- or 5-sided), green, fleshy, jointed, many-branched stems. Each stem segment has 3 flat, wavy wings, (ribs) with corneous margins and may have 1–3 small spines or be spineless. The stem sections of pitaya form aerial roots which adhere to the surface upon which they grow or climb. The stem may reach about 20 ft (6.1 m) long.
Scientific name: Hylocereus undatus
Common name: Pitaya, Pitahaya or Dragon fruit
How to grow and maintain dragon fruit:
Since this plant is a part of the cactus plant, it needs a soil that suits to its growth. A well-drained and sandy soil is the best type. There are cactus soils sold in the market or you can make your own by mixing garden or potting soil, sand, and compost.
Like most cactus, dragon fruit is considered light feeders. This means that it doesn’t need lots of nutrients. Though adding slow-releasing, and low-nitrogen fertilizer can help it grow faster. Re-application of fertilizer can be done once every two months.
Fill the container with soil until half-full. Place the climbing pole and continue filling the pot with soil until almost full. Be sure to that the pole is sturdy to give good support to the dragon fruit as it grows. Plant the dragon fruit cuttings to about 3-5 inches deep beside the guide pole. Tie the cutting on the guide pole if needed. Place the pot in an area where the plant can get enough sunlight (about 80% of its time).
Cactus doesn’t need flooding water. This is applicable to dragon fruits too. Too much water can lead to rotting and eventually the plant dies. Once the dragon fruit started to climb on the pole, keeping the pole moist is recommended.
Dragon fruit can grow as high as 20 feet or as high as where it is clinging. You can keep it that way as long as it has a guide where it can climb. But if you want to keep it on a preferred height, pruning is needed by cutting branches. Keeping the plant in less weight can make the plant stronger, concentrate the nutrients, and promote it to bloom.
Harvest, Ripening, and Storage:
Thorny pitayas are more difficult to harvest than thornless ones. Leather gloves and long sleeved shirts are recommended for harvesting thorny pitayas. The ripening season for H. undatus in Florida generally goes from June to November. Hand clippers should be used to remove fruits from the plants. Be careful not to damage the fruit, and remove any stub at the stem attachment by cutting the peduncle (fruit stem) flush to the fruit surface. Harvest only well colored, mature fruit. Fruit will keep 4 to 5 days at room temperature or several weeks in plas