What you should know about Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit is a fast growing, vine-like, tropical cactus with fleshy, succulent fruit. When growing naturally, dragon fruit attaches branched stems to trees or rocks via adventitious roots. If you want to grow it in your garden, providing some means of support is essential.

Native to Curaçao, dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) is easy to grow, both from seed and cuttings. Fresh (undried) seeds will germinate quite rapidly, usually within just a few days. Dried seeds germinate within 1-4 weeks. Plant the seeds 1 cm deep in moist, sterile soil.

If you acquire a fresh cutting, it’s best to place it in a shady location for a week or more to allow the cut end to dry and ‘heal’ to avoid fungal infections before placing it into soil. You can then put it in a pot to encourage roots to grow. When new growth appears, it will be safe to plant them in the ground.

Cuttings can take four months or more to develop really strong root systems. As the stems grow, make sure you keep them directed towards their intended support. Don’t use wires that may cut into the stem, but tie it loosely with a softer material.

Dragon Fruit has dazzling flowers and will bear fruit in up to two years. The fruit is usually a dark red color, although some types are pink or yellow. The skin is covered in scales, and the center of the fruit is made up of a red or white, sweet tasting pulp.

The fruit is ripe when the pink or yellow color of the exterior darkens.  A brittle stem denotes an overripe fruit. Pick one that is firm, much like an avocado or mango, and one that has a light aroma. You can keep it in the fridge up to five days.

Dragon Fruit is a natural fruit that contains high amounts of nutrients, like vitamin C, and is a good source of anti-oxidants which help improve defense systems. A 100g offering of dragon fruit only has 60 calories: 18 calories from fat (all unsaturated), 8 calories from protein as well as 34 calories from carbohydrates. Dragon fruits do not possess complicated carbohydrates, so they can easily be separated through the entire body. It is said that Dragon Fruit is particularly good for your skin.