9 Widespread Dragon Fruit-Rising Issues

Candy tropical treats are sorely missing in most grocery shops. Also called pitahaya, dragon fruit is a singular cactus with vine-like spiky leaves and vibrant fuchsia fruits. Solely a handful of types are grown commercially, and most don’t evaluate to the ultra-sweet enjoyment of ripe fruit straight from the vine. 

Rising this uncommon subtropical cactus gives an unimaginable range of flavors, colours, and botanical curiosity on your backyard and kitchen. The plant is surprisingly straightforward to finish, however it might probably face some issues should you aren’t ready to satisfy its wants.

Let’s dig into the 9 most typical dragon fruit rising issues and learn how to stop them.

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What Issues Do Dragon Fruit Timber Have?

  • Lack of flowers (tipping can “pressure” flower buds)
  • Too small of a container
  • Cactus rust
  • Overwatering
  • Poor fruit set (often as a result of poor pollination)
  • Temperature harm
  • Weak trellising system
  • Improper varietal choice

The best way to Keep away from 9 Dragon Fruit Rising Issues

It’s straightforward to change into obsessive about a plant as distinctive as pitahaya. This unique vining cactus is each decorative and edible. The climbing wavy-margined cactus leaves are intriguing and vigorous. At maturity, scrumptious bright-colored fruits develop from dazzling night-blooming flowers

Whether or not you may have a longtime plant otherwise you need to strive rising dragon fruit cuttings for the primary time, listed here are the 9 most typical issues and learn how to keep away from them!

Lack of Flowers and Fruits

The flowers are small, reddish in color, and cluster at the tips of the plant's stems.
The dearth of flower buds could be mounted with easy upkeep.

When you have a ton of vegetative development in your crops, however don’t see any flower buds, a number of components could possibly be in place. This drawback could be associated to plant stress, overwatering, illness, or simply the age of the plant—most crops don’t begin fruiting till the second or third yr. 

However typically the dearth of flower buds could be solved with two easy upkeep tips. These particular professional suggestions will promote extra buds, blooms, and fruits!


Close-up of a gardener tipping a stem using red pruning shears in the garden.
Forcing redirects power to spice up flower and fruit manufacturing.

“Tipping” is among the greatest options for an absence of flowers! Also called “forcing,” this technique primarily forces the cactus to cease placing all its power into leaf development. Whereas it isn’t important for development, tipping can dramatically enhance flowering and fruiting. 

First, wait till your cactus has reached virtually the highest of its trellis. Then, use sharp, sanitized shears to lower off the guidelines of every vine

Eradicating the guidelines communicates to the plant to provide flower buds on that piece of stem. As a substitute of funneling its power into extra foliage development, the vine will shift towards flower and fruit manufacturing. After tipping, it might probably take one to 2 months to see flower buds start forming. 

P and Ok Fertilizer

Close-up of a gardener applying granular fertilizer to vibrant, green plants thriving on a vertical support system, surrounded by nutrient-rich mulched soil
Swap to a phosphorus and potassium fertilizer to boost blooms.

Most backyard crops share related nutrient wants: They use a whole lot of nitrogen within the leafy (vegetative) development stage, then they shift towards extra phosphorus and potassium in the course of the flowering and fruiting (reproductive) stage. 

As soon as your plant is near the highest of its trellis and a few yr previous, you don’t need to add a ton of nitrogen fertilizer. Extra nitrogen stimulates extra inexperienced development. As a substitute, it’s useful to shift to a fertilizer excessive in phosphorus and potassium. This received’t “pressure” a bloom just like the tipping technique, however it can improve flower and fruit manufacturing.

A couple of months earlier than you need your tree to bloom (often early summer time), apply tipping and add the P/Ok fertilizer to the soil.

Chilly Climate or Excessive Warmth

The plant exhibits wilted leaves that appear limp and drooping, accompanied by fruits that are shriveled and discolored at the tips.
Shield your plant from excessive temperatures for optimum development.

Chilly harm on this tropical plant is a significant bummer, however excessive warmth may also dwindle fruit yields. Dragon fruit crops are solely hardy open air USDA zones 10-11. The crops want to develop in temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C), however they will deal with right down to 35°F (2°C) throughout dormancy. Temperate growers can develop the cactus in a greenhouse or a rolling planter to maneuver indoors within the winter.

In zone 9, they require frost safety like frost blankets (row material), greenhouse rising, or indoor relocation for the winter. Chilly-damaged crops could change into stunted, droopy, mushy, two-toned (yellowish-green), and lack flowers. If the leaves are literally uncovered to frost, they’ll seemingly shrivel and die.

On the opposite finish of the spectrum, many individuals neglect that this tropical cactus is just not as heat-hardy as its desert relations. In zones 11 and 12, the plant may have shade material or dappled shade to guard it from temperatures over 100°F (38°C). Wilting and leaf scorching in excessive warmth is widespread.

Remember to shield your cactus from excessive temperatures to make sure it might probably dwell an considerable life. In case your plant experiences frost or excessive warmth, prune away broken areas, improve watering (however keep away from overwatering), and instantly transfer it to a milder location. These crops carry out greatest in full daylight with a big pot and temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C).

Incorrect Pot Dimension or Materials

Close-up of dragon fruit plants planted in large brown clay pots with vertical trellises with hanging succulent dark green stems with spines on the ribs.
Begin with a big pot to keep away from frequent transplanting in a while.

To efficiently develop this plant, you’ll need a pot that’s not less than 20 gallons or bigger. These cacti can develop very massive. The crops dwell for 4-10 years or extra, and yield abundantly in the suitable setting. 

However most learners by accident plant the cuttings in small containers. It’s OK to start out small should you plan to transplant or up-pot. Nevertheless, it’s best to root the cactus cuttings in a big container from the beginning. This may prevent the time and problem of potting up the plant. Belief me, the transplanting course of is arduous as soon as the cactus is massive! 

Pot Materials

A close-up of six large round-shaped terracotta pots that have a rustic, earthy appearance with a reddish-brown color.
Select a sturdy terracotta pot with glorious drainage for optimum development.

The pot materials can be essential. This cactus has sturdy, vigorous roots that may simply burst out of a skinny container. Plastic, material, or skinny ceramic aren’t ultimate. A thick, sturdy terracotta pot is greatest

Terracotta can be ultimate as a result of it permits most drainage. Earthen pots naturally wick water away from the basis zone. This tropical cactus enjoys slightly extra water than its desert cousins. Nevertheless, the water should drain out rapidly to stop root rot and waterlogged soil. Examine that your pot has massive drainage holes within the backside so you’ll be able to stop water points down the road.

Pot Form and Sturdiness

Close-up of young plants with vertical green stems and spines in large terracotta pots with wooden supports.
Select a stout, large pot with a broad base for stability.

The form of the pot must also be thought-about. A tall, skinny pot won’t present the right basis for this plant. You desire a container that has a broad base and reasonable peak to forestall the cactus from toppling over. Stout and large pots that maintain 25-30 gallons of soil are ultimate. They supply most root space whereas weighing down the bottom of the plant.

Keep in mind, it is a vining cactus! As we’ll focus on under, a robust trellis is important, however the trellis should have the help system of a sturdy pot. The vines can quickly climb a six-foot-tall 4×4 submit within the first yr. Excessive winds could cause stability points. Stop these issues from the beginning to make sure you don’t get up to a fallen-over cactus.

Cactus Rust

Leaves affected by rust show reddish-brown, powdery spots and patches on their green surface.
Early detection of cactus rust prevents critical plant harm.

The most typical illness that afflicts dragon fruit known as cactus rust. This rust primarily spreads in the course of the wintertime. Excessive humidity, dew, and mist can switch the rust between crops. When you go away the rust to proliferate, you might face main issues like shoot die-back and vine dying. However should you catch cactus rust early, it’s straightforward to manage.

The simplest approach to determine this illness is by the little orange dots on the leaves. The orange dots ultimately flip to bigger blisters that unfold over the cactus leaves. The blisters will eat away the flesh and unfold quickly amongst crops, particularly in moist climate.

Prevention and Remedy

Close-up of a gardener's hand spraying copper fungicide on a diseased leaf affected by rust.
Hydrogen peroxide spray successfully controls early cactus rust outbreaks organically.

While you barely begin to discover orange rust dots, a hydrogen peroxide spray is one of the best technique of stopping unfold. Use a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide (3% peroxide) and half water. Put these in a twig bottle and apply on to the affected spots. That is the most suitable choice for preserving your backyard as natural as potential.

For reasonable infections, you might must step up the sport to guard your dragon fruit. Organicide is an natural fungicide that may be diluted and sprayed straight on the leaves. 

If cactus rust is absolutely attacking your plant, you might want to use a copper fungicide. Copper is a a lot stronger remedy, but it surely at all times kills the pathogen. This technique may be very dependable, however it isn’t ultimate for natural growers. Goal to apply the lower-impact strategies first earlier than resorting to copper. 

Apply your sprays to the plant within the morning or night when daylight is just not straight hitting the branches of the plant. This may stop scorch or harm from the spray itself.


Close-up of watering potted plants using a green hose with a spray nozzle.
For wholesome development, keep away from overwatering—test soil moisture earlier than watering deeply.

It’s a massive mistake to overwater this cactus. This rising drawback is extremely widespread as a result of many individuals mistakenly deal with dragon fruit like different tropical crops. Though this tropical cactus requires extra water than a desert cactus, it nonetheless dislikes excessively moist situations. A cheerful medium is essential for wholesome roots and fruits! This tropical plant wants extra water than the common cactus however much less water than the common vegetable!

About one inch of water per week is good. When you have a bigger pot, the soil will keep moist for longer. Earlier than watering, it’s vital to dig your hand into the soil profile to test that it’s dry. Don’t water if the soil nonetheless feels moist within the decrease layers.

Overwatering results in main issues with root rot. Above-ground, you’ll discover new stem items begin plopping off. Whereas the stem items could be saved and rooted as cuttings, it can set again the general plant development. 

In the end, overwatering is simple to forestall so long as you test your soil. Don’t comply with a set watering schedule (ie. water each two days). As a substitute, test your plant a number of occasions per week and be prepared for seasonal variation based mostly on the temperature and humidity. Don’t water except the soil feels dry to the contact 5 to 6 inches down within the pot.

Improper Pruning and Coaching

Close-up of a gardener pruning the side shoots of a plant using red pruning shears in the garden.
Correct trellising and common pruning guarantee optimum development and fruit manufacturing.

Lack of pruning and improper trellising are main issues with any perennial vining plant. It’s particularly problematic with dragon fruit as a result of the vining stems can rapidly get out of hand. When you neglect to tie the plant to the trellis, it might probably run off in its personal path. 

Luckily, the vines are considerably versatile, so you’ll be able to re-train them and provides them a haircut. Backyard tape or twine are straightforward methods to tie the leaves to the trellis, and sharp hand pruners make it straightforward to lower off aspect shoots. Nevertheless, should you keep away from pruning, the plant can get uncontrolled and fail to focus its power on the expansion you need (upward vining, then flowers and fruit!)

In case your cactus begins to vine downward or away from the trellis, it could ship out a bunch of sucker shoots on the decrease elements of the vine. These suckers have to be pruned away to advertise upward development. Each thorn is a possible budding node. Improperly trellised crops can put out stem items at each thorn alongside the vine. 

If these stems are left in place, they suck power away from plant development and fruit manufacturing. Consider these decrease stems as just like tomato suckers. You don’t need the plant to department and “sucker” outward till it reaches the highest of the trellis. 

Weak Trellis Design

Close-up of a row of growing potted dragon fruit plants with tall wooden trellises in the garden.
A powerful, sturdy trellis is important for supporting these vines.

Everyone knows that trellising is vital for any vining plant. However a trellis is very vital for perennial vines! Vegetation with lengthy lifespans develop very lengthy, tall, and heavy! The trellis should have the ability to help the load of the cactus, or you might face catastrophe. A weak trellis is a typical drawback amongst newbie growers who fail to plan for the spectacular measurement of this plant.

It’s possible you’ll use a bamboo stick to maintain a younger chopping upright, however a flimsy stake won’t lower it for a mature cactus. As a substitute, take the time to put money into high quality wooden and trellis design that’s confirmed to final. Typically, it’s troublesome to search out pre-built trellises for this distinctive plant. You’ll have to get out your instruments and assemble your personal. Luckily, the design is kind of easy.

Dragon fruit skilled Richard Lee of @graftingdragonfruit and our very personal Epic Gardening dragon fruit fanatic Kevin each suggest a trellis manufactured from 4×4 picket posts with a square-shaped help system on the highest. The plant naturally needs to develop straight upward, then cascade downward over an higher “cap” a part of the trellis.

Right here is an outline of the lumber you want:

  • 5-foot-tall 4×4 fence posts (untreated—don’t use pressure-treated wooden!)
  • 2×4 framing lumber (for the highest “sq.” construction with a slat throughout the center)
  • Ideally, select rot-resistant wooden like cedar, particularly for the posts that might be buried

Additionally, you will want these primary instruments:

  • Massive pots (defined above)
  • Round noticed or hand noticed
  • Drills and bits
  • 2.5” exterior deck screws

This video contains every part you must learn about constructing a correct trellis:

YouTube video

Not Sufficient Cuttings

Close-up of a gardener sitting next to a large terracotta pot with several cuttings attached to a wooden trellis.
Plant a number of cuttings per pot for higher fruit yield and development.

Whereas overcrowding is a typical drawback in vegetable gardens, some fruit growers really under-plant their dragon fruit. A correctly sized pot and trellis can help a couple of chopping! In case you are disillusioned by the quantity of development and fruits, you might must plant extra cuttings per pot.

In case you are utilizing the 4×4 submit trellis technique described above, it is sensible to plant 4 cuttings—one on both sides of the submit. All of those cuttings can develop into their very own tall vine to make sure extra manufacturing from a single pot. 

After all, you don’t need to crowd dozens of cuttings into one container. However needless to say an enormous pot can help a couple of plant. The 4 to 6 particular person vines will develop collectively and work in conjunction to fill out the trellis, guaranteeing a bigger fruit set. 

That is particularly vital should you plant a range that requires cross-pollination. These cultivars are referred to as self-sterile dragon fruits. In that case, it’s essential to have a special selection to ensure that the crops to set fruit. 

You’ll be able to keep away from this drawback by rising self-fertile, self-pollinating varieties like ‘Vietnam White’ or ‘Sugar Dragon.’ These crops can pollinate themselves however may have some hand pollination to switch pollen between flowers. Whatever the sort you select, be sure you plant a number of cuttings in each pot! This technique will yield extra scrumptious fruit!

Lack of Daylight

The dragon fruit plant has thick, fleshy green stems with spines, broad, flat leaves, and young green fruit topped with a wilted flower.
Present ample daylight to make sure wholesome dragon fruit development.

One last drawback confronted by many northern growers is an absence of daylight. This tropical cactus wants not less than six to eight hours of direct daylight per day. In case you are rising the cactus indoors to guard it from the chilly, it nonetheless wants loads of gentle to correctly develop and yield. The stems can develop light inexperienced and yellow or begin drooping and stunting in the event that they don’t get sufficient daylight. The answer is a vibrant location close to a sunny window and a supplemental develop gentle if wanted.

Solely the most popular local weather gardeners want to fret about extra gentle. In case your area experiences scorching vibrant summers, hold the plant in an space with dappled shade, however be certain it nonetheless receives six to eight hours of solar.

Closing Ideas

Dragon fruit is an intriguing experiment for any gardener eager about tropical rising. Whereas it could appear intimidating, this unique vining cactus is definitely easygoing and vigorous as soon as established. For optimum success, plant in a big pot, keep away from overwatering, use a robust trellis, apply pruning, and repeatedly take away the guidelines (to pressure flowers). 

Keep away from illness issues by monitoring the leaves for indicators of orange rust dots. When you discover rust spreading, apply diluted hydrogen peroxide within the evenings to assist cease the pathogen. Solely resort to harsher controls if the rust begins forming blisters and taking on your plant. 

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