Life Cycle of Dragon Fruit

dragon fruit flowers how to grow

A funky addition and curious conversation piece to our garden is the Dragon Fruit (Thanh Long in Vietnamese). Also called Pitaya or Strawberry Pear, this fruit is one of several varieties of cactus plant fruits prized in Southeast Asia. The numerous, sprawling branches of this fleshy cacti reach out and climb on to anything that crosses it’s path. Just like a dragon or serpent snaking it’s way in all different directions, the spiny plant itself is really easy to grow in warm, hot , sunny areas. Propagation just takes one strong cutting planted in good soil and you can have a whole farm of plants within two years.

We grow the red/pink skinned, white center variety. The thin skin can be peeled, revealing a white center filled with small, black , edible seeds. Eating the fruit and interior seeds has a texture similar to that of kiwi fruit. It’s really a slightly sweet, mild flavored fruit and is best when eaten fresh. Savoring it this way makes it worth the high price tag it can fetch at the store or farmers market. Dad just gave us some cutting for a red skinned, red center variety. Hopefully next years harvest will be good.

Watching this fruit grow and ripen over a period of 3-4 months is cool. The dragon fruit grows right on top of the branches and over this growth period, the fruit is nurtured to a plump, large, orange sized beauty.

Watch it grow:

dragon fruit flowers how to grow
True to it’s namesake : “Dragon” Fruit

Baby flower buds …so cute!

Mature flowers about to …Pop!

POP !! Believe it or not, this beauty only lasts for 1 day! After that, it’s like….

A spent penis. All done!

Now comes the fruit growing at the base of the drying flower

More to come…this fruit is still ripening. The harvest should be in about 2 more weeks!

Previous Dragon Fruit Posts and Photographs:

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Hbomb

    Hi there I live in Vancouver BC and I recently got myself a dragonfruit plant only about 15 inches tall, does anyone have any tips or suggestions on growing these funky plants in my climate and also wondering how long before they actually bear fruit? Thanks for any and all help!

    1. Todd & Diane

      They can’t take freezing, so you’ll need to protect it for about half of the year in Vancouver. Lots of sun if you can. You are kinda in their opposite preferred climate. Ours fruit on any year old (or more) stalks. Best of luck!

  2. Karen

    Thank you. This is wonderful information. I also got my plants at a market in Western Australia and after a 2 years of getting the spikes grabbing me when I get too close it has produced a flower bud..only one so perhaps I won’t get a fruit but it is fun watching this bud grow larger every day. If anyone in Perth’s Northern suburbs has a flower that I can collect pollen from please let me know. I am happy to share a cutting or two.

  3. Norm

    Hi there

    i have 3 plants that were given to me when they were only a couple inches tall its been only 10 months now and they are about 14″ tall now but I’ve been growing they under artificial light yup florescent lights and they are doing wonderful can’t wait to see how it all turns out . I live in alberta Canada it get very cold here in the winter , ill keep you informed how it all doing.

  4. Fatima Canjura

    I was wondering at what time of the year you have harvest of pitahaya in Vietnam or other asian countries. Wonderful pictures!

  5. Pankaj B Patel

    Hello
    I am interested in growing dragon fruit in my farm in gujrat but i have no idea so ur idea will be help full
    About what kind of climate,soil,water etc.

    Thanks

  6. sussan

    Fantastic info on Dragon fruit. I live in Perth Western Australia and bought a cutting of it at a local market with a fruit growing on it for $2 (aus) 3 years ago and I now, off that small cutting have 3 huge hanging baskets growing along our patio. One of mine started growing a flower(OMG the excitement and anticipation)for about 2 1/2 weeks and it opened tonight and wow amazing.
    Thanks for your info it was very helpful.

  7. Maxine Rupeter

    Hello everyone,very much enjoyed all the info on Dragon Fruit.Would like to know if anyone would be willing to share Or sell a cutting. Sure hope so.Thanks and hope you all have a great day

  8. Amol

    I would like to grow dragon fruit in my field but i dont no anything about the plant.

  9. Roy Musarra

    Hey, I have up until recently been growing the red skinned white flesh variety when I found a stall at local markets having the yellow skinned ones, so I bought 3 of them to try, ate 2 which tasted a lot like a type of grape grandmother used to grow, so i planted the seeds from the third one hoping to grow them which they have been in pots till I can set up a post and frame to grow them on.

    The only thing I have noticed with the yellow fruit is they have spines similar to prickly pear fruit.

  10. Heather

    Our Dragon Fruit plants were already established when we bought our home 11 years ago here in Queensland, Australia. One is in the ground and growing up and over the back of our garage and the other is in a pot in a small shaded green house type structure that is attached to the side of our garage. Both plants have flowered during the years but it is only this year that we have been delighted in noticing one single solitary fruit. Any thoughts on why only one fruit and also why would it decide bare fruit after so long. We have no idea just how long the plants were already there before we moved in.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Heather. Some dragonfruit need particular pollinators and without them they’ll need to be hand pollinated in order to get the fruit to set. We are growing about 5 different type of dragonfruit right now and one of them is like that. It is kind of hard to describe in a few words how to hand pollinate, but if you google it you should be able to find a good tutorial. Good luck.

  11. Giselle

    What a fantastic post! I have two varieties of dragon fruit – yellow and red – and they’ve been growing well for two years, but not flowering. I live in western oz, so they get plenty of sun! Any idea how to encourage the flower? Thanks, g

    1. White on Rice Couple

      For us we make sure to fertilize regularly to encourage flowers. Also, for our varieties, they flower on the older branches and tend to flower better on those which are flowing back downward. To get them to go down, we’ll grow them on a frame or ironwork about 5-6 feet high, tying them to the center as they grow up. After the branches reach the top of the frame, they’ll start to flow back downwards, like a very stiff weeping tree. Hope that helps. Good luck! BTW-our yellow centered one is super delicious. Hope yours will be the same!
      T & D

  12. Netzki

    Thank you for sharing this. Ive experience seeing the the beautiful flower of a dragon fruit at my rooftop garden. Through this article, my question on what’s next after flowering was answered. I can share my photos if you like. Thank you very much.

  13. Amanda

    There are many blogs out there. Few are as enjoyable, entertaining, inspiring, and informative as yours. Gardening didn’t occur to me before I found your site. A vegetable garden intimidates me to the core (just this season my peas and kale failed), but dragon fruit, blood oranges, and wisteria…now that is something to fight for!

  14. Phung

    We use to have a yard full of them. It was so pretty at night because we would set up lights to help the cactus grow faster, especially during the flowering nights. The the first thoughts that popped in my mind when I saw the wilting flower was a post coital phallus too, lmao!

  15. Barbara

    Finally – pictures of the stages of the flower opening, and then the fruit forming! A neighbor who was moving gave me a cutting. I just sort of threw it on the ground in a spot next to the garage. It grew slowly for a couple of years. Then all of a sudden one morning there was this magnificent flower. Just one. And then a couple of hours later it was wilted. I went online and after quite a bit of research I found the “Queen of the Night”. The next year there were two or three. I actually stood in front of my house at 6AM to see if any early morning walkers were in the area. I spotted two ladies and invited them to see my flowers. Over the next couple of years I got more and more flowers spread out from August to October. In the morning after they wilted I’d twist them off the stems. It was only this year I found out that they bear fruit. Now I know how to manually pollenate them. Unfortunately, I found out after the last flower bloomed yesterday. But there will be more in September, so I’ll give it a try. Thank you for your great web site. Like Annette, I also live in Orange County, California.

  16. shirley

    hi to all, I am a dragon fruit lover! Yes I started planting few years back maybe more than 3 years but it never give me the fruits then I decided to change the plant to the ground woh! it then started flowering and I got the sweet lovely taste.Now I got another new plant again in another location in my compound woh the first fruit weighed 660 gm !I am so proud of it !

  17. Kim Chuah

    I am wondering the life span of dragon fruit,,, m thinking of planting it in my garden to act as a fence,, would they die after a few years?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      They are fairly long lived, although we don’t know how long for sure. Our oldest ones are about 7 years old and getting stronger every year. Make sure they get solid sun for the length of the fence. The only ones that have struggled for us have been in partial shade.

  18. Trevor

    What type of climate does this fruit grow in?

  19. Jill

    We’re all jealous of your garden…it is just beautiful!

  20. Divina

    Wow, all I could say is that it’s incredible.. I’ve never seen anything like it.

  21. Annette

    I’ve just discovered your wonderfully informative blog that fits my questions on gardening in Orange County! I discovered dragon fruits about 5 years ago while traveling through China in our hotel breakfast in Beijing. Now I have been give a small plant to grow my own fruit! It’s very droopy leggy branches do not all stand on their own. How do you stake this plant?

    I have a lot of catching up on all your posts. My husband and I are foodies who love to try and concoct recipes of delicious foods found in our travels too. Thx!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Annette – We’ll be writing a full write up on how to grow it well. Please look out for it on our Garden blog. Thanks!

  22. KingofFools401

    Hello and good afternoon from a fellow dragon fruit aficionado. I too am taking a stab at this mysterious and magnificent species of splendor, although, I am honored to be growing several varieties on this, a momentous occasion. I am growing in (get this…) Northern Rhode Island. On a second floor balcony of a rented apartment!!! As you can plainly see from my photobucket site – I grow many many many varieties of tropical and sub-tropical species. This has been an on-going love affair for me since the beginning almost twelve years ago. Currently I am growing three different varieties of Pitahaya; a red flesh red skinned, a var. entitled ‘Physical Graffiti’, and finally a yellow skinned var. more commonly known as ‘Selenicereus Megalanthus’. Wishing you the very best of luck…and god speed!!! Keep those beautiful photos coming and please – continue awakening amongst the moon and stars above.
    -Scott

  23. marilyn l seranilla

    hello friend in dragon fruit growing! beauuuutifuuuuullll!!! im all smiles while watching your pictures of the life cycle of the dragon fruit.wow! im intending to do that, and here i saw somebody did it first. know what? how i wish dragon fruit growers all over the world would organize a certain association.im sure it would really be a different experience when you’re
    sharing your dragon fruit with fellow growers.

  24. missginsu

    Dragonfruit are so pretty and interesting to look at, but I haven’t really been wowed by the flavor. I’d love to have more ideas on what to do with them. They’re all over Chinatown here in NYC.

  25. Shari

    This is so informative! I’ve only seen the fruit at the store and had no idea how it flowered. Love it. Thanks!

  26. Al D'Leong

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  27. monty davis

    I have two dragon fruit plants that produce many blooms but no fruit. One is in a large pot the other in the ground. They are in my yard in Key Largo and seem to be thriving but after almost 3 years, no fruit. Any thoughts?

    Monty Davis

    1. Susan

      Hand pollinate.

      1. White on Rice Couple

        I believe you are referring to the question Monte asked. If so, you are correct. There are many varieties of dragonfruit which need a little help in different geographies. Often times they will need to be hand pollinated.

  28. Philippe

    Great pictures.. thanks!

  29. Cakelaw

    How gorgeous! I wish I had found your post right at the start, because I really had no idea what a dragon fruit was or what to do with it. Your photographs of the lifecycle are spectacular. I look forward to seeing how you go with the pink-fleshed variety!

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