It is blooming time for our pitaya/ pitahaya or more commonly called dragon fruit. This cactus species was given to my father by his Taiwanese friend way back in 2003.
He brought 2 cuttings which was planted in a small terracotta pot and was growing very slow because of poor lighting, lack of fertilization, sluggish condition with ordinary driftwood as stake or support for the plant.
In 2007, He decided to plant some cuttings on a vacant lot which had a lot of old fruit trees, damp condition and water logged area. Most of the pitahaya cuttings rotted away.
I managed to convince my father to move some of the bigger cuttings and replant them in a brighter condition, changing of planting medium to more sandy mixture and with regular fertilization program, Most of the cutting thrive and flourish and within 1 year time, it manage to produce its first set of flowers by July 2008.
We would also trim the side stems once in a while. Sometimes giving away the excess cuttings to neighbors and friends.
Pitahaya blooming ( notice the two pollinated flowers)
This photo was taken about 9:00 pm when the flowers remained open until about 4:00 am. The peak for hand pollinating the flowers must be between 11:00 pm to 12:00 midnight, when the flowers are at its peak.
We manage to hand pollinate 2 flowers before 12:00 midnight. We expect some dragon fruit to form within this week. The fruit is oval to ovate in shape and 10 to 15 cm long and forms 30 to 50 days after flowering.
I think we have two varieties of Hylocereus undatus ( white ) and Hylocereus Hylocereus costaricensis ( pink ) type.
Here is a small tip for those who wanted to grow them
Pitahaya plant is actually a climbing cactus and needs sturdy support to climb on ( preferably concrete wall or some support) . As the plant becomes mature it forms aerial roots from the branches and find something to climb. It is best, if you are growing dragon fruit find something to support your plant. ( something stable )
Dragon fruit is a sub- tropical plant and it can survive in tropical climates condition. It loves heat and sun . At least 5 to 7 hours of almost full sun exposure. It is better to plant it in a spot that remains dry and receives only partial sun.
Avoid planting the cuttings in water logged conditions. Try a mixture of sand, garden soil and small part organic compost would be appropriate.
We do not water the cactus during the rainy season from June to late November, But we would add organic compost soil once a month and apply water soluble fertilizer ( 20N-20P-20K ) once every two weeks, trace elements ( once a month) , calcium nitrate ( once a month).
Do not apply any other types of home style fertilization program like apple cider vinegar, msg or any form of milk whether skim milk, mother’s milk, pasteurized milk etc. This will only kill your cacti. Plus these are not proven effective and quite expensive.
Remember that fungal diseases and root and fruit rot is possible, if plant is over watered or exposed to too much rain for several days or weeks.
It is better not to water until the media or soil becomes dry. This prefers drying in between watering.
Happy Growing !