Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cultivating dragon fruit cactus in the backyard

I am retired and my daughter thought it would be a good idea to get me more active in gardening, so she brought back some dragon fruit cactus cuttings for me to plant. I don't know anything about dragon fruit cactus, so I did some searching. I found out that there were various species, and mine could possibly be Hylocereus undatus
a.k.a. Pitahaya or Strawberry Pear. Pitahaya is the Spainish name for the fruit. I was told there are some with yellow flesh and some are red. It seems the red ones are better. I was told the one they brought back is the red flesh type.

Further, I found it is not a free standing cactus, but a vining one. The plant may creep over the ground or climb onto trees or wooden poles using aerial roots. My search revealed that those who cultivate the cactus uses wooden poles for support. However, the house I am staying in was developed from a former rubber estate and prone to termite infestations. I was thus reluctant to plant it. My son-in-law came up with the idea of using plastic pipes and tying the growing cactus to the pipes.

So the next day I walked over to the nearby hardware shop and bought some plastic pipes. However, I made the mistake of purchasing the small 1" diameter poles, and I doubt the pipes would make a good free standing support for the cactus if it is partly buried in the ground. The maid, a Cambodian, got the briliant idea of leaning the pipes against a dividing wall in the garden. Below is a picture of the growing cactus, the pipes, and the dividing wall:

dragon fruit cactus cultivation in the backyard


Rob said...

Hi Peter,

I was just wondering how you planted the dragon fruit - as you said you had taken them from cuttings. I have a dragon fruit cactus growing in a pot of other cactii, and I want to take some cuttings to plant seperately. Should you cut off the cutting at the joint between segments, and then place the cut end into the soil? Any advice would be much appreciated!

Peter Chen said...

Hi Rob,

That was given to me (airflown from the Borneo Island) and if I remember correctly, they were multi-joints (about a foot in length). Hope that is of some help.

Peter (Blog*Star 2006 and 2007)
Blogger Tips and Tricks

SpongeBob said...

I've grown several dragon fruit cactus from the seeds. They're doing very well but I have them indoors and would like to know how to prune them back so they don't grow too big. As your obviously aware when cuting them back you end up with multiple resprout.

Any suggestion on how to cut them back without this resrpouting happening. I really don't want to put it out in the garden (I'm in the UK and it would probably be too cold, that's if the dogs didn't get it first).


Peter said...


Will really want to help, but (hiding face behind wall) my poor dragon fruits cacti had been neglected as I have got addicted to Internet and blogging plus earning money to supplement my pension to help put my 2 sons through college. But I suspect you may have to put up with multiple sprouting. I don't think that is too bad.

Peter Blog*Star
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woklah said...

Hi i live in Australia and i got dragon fruit growing in my back yard,
The cactus can be cut at the joints so its safe to do so without hurting the plant. And with the cutting you can just plant it just make sure to dry it out a bit so it doesn't rot in the soil. It will take about 12 mouths to get to the stage of flowering depending on the size of the plant, you also have to make sure that the cactus is well supported to hold the fruit.