pitahaya, pitahaya or dragon fruit, is a fruit of the Cactaceae family that has become very popular in recent years for food consumption. There are several varieties of pitahaya: Hylocereus megalanthus, Hylocereus undatus, Hylocereus costaricensis, Hylocereus polyrhizus, Hylocereus monacanthus, Hylocereus triangularis, etc. Its fruit is a striking pink or yellow color, with white, yellow or pink pulp and, although the plant has its origin in America, it is currently cultivated in other parts of the world.
If you want to learn about the cultivation of dragon fruitfrom how to plant it to its care to grow it and have fruit, join us in this EcologíaVerde article, in which we will teach you how to do it step by step.
How to plant dragon fruit
It is possible to plant the pitaya both from its seeds and from cuttings. However, the first option is much slower, and it could take up to several years for your plant to start bearing fruit. Here we will explain the pitaya cultivation by cuttingsbecause it is much faster. Pitaya seeds are not particularly delicate or difficult to grow, so in any case, it is a matter of time.
- Choose an area of soil outside with enough space, or a pot that is at least 25 cm deep and has drainage holes in the bottom. If you plant outdoors, find an area that receives sunlight for at least a few hours of the day. If winters are harsh in your area, it is better that you choose to keep it indoors, since severe frosts will damage the plant and can kill it.
- Use soil or substrate for cacti, which is somewhat sandy and has very good drainage.
- Take a cutting that is at least 2 years old and leave it in the shade for about 5 days before planting it. Here we tell you how to make cuttings.
- After that time, transplant the cutting to a pot with the characteristics described above, in a sunny area and water the plant like the tropical cactus that it is: only when the substrate is visibly dry.
- You can help yourself with fertilizers for cacti at the time of transplanting and a couple of times a month in the hot season.
- 4 months later, your pitaya plant should be ready for transplanting to its final location, either outdoors or in a larger pot.
Pitaya care for its cultivation
These are the pitaya care so that your crop is a success, grows healthy and bears fruit:
As a tropical cactus, one of the greatest dangers of this plant is excess humidity. It’s easy to be tempted to overwater it to speed up its growth, but doing so will only lead to disease and deterioration of the plant. Water it only when its substrate is dry.
Substrate and fertilizer
Regarding the land and the subscriber, it shares the needs of most cacti of its kind. Use soil or substrate for succulents and fertilize it with specialized fertilizer once a month or every 15 days in the spring and summer months. We recommend using natural fertilizer for cacti and here we will tell you everything about Organic Fertilizer: what it is, types, benefits and how to do it.
This plant needs a lot of sunlight, so unless you live in an area where the sun is exceptionally strong, plant it where it receives the most light throughout the day.
Prune the dragon fruit
Finally, in this plant a training pruning should be practiced shortly after transplanting the cutting to maintain adequate structure and fruit production. The most usual thing in it is to eliminate all the shoots except one or two pods at the end and, from the third year of life of the plant, production pruning is carried out in which all the pods that do not bear fruit are eliminated.
When to harvest the pitaya plant
This plant produces its fruits in a staggered way in the period that from autumn to early spring. You should pick them when they look ripe, bright in color, and completely pink, red, or yellow, depending on the variety you grow, except for the tips on the red pitaya variety. If you’re not sure, wait to collect them four days after they’ve changed color.
How to eat pitahaya
These fruits of sweet taste and very low calorie contenthave become popular throughout the world both for their pleasant color and flavor and for their almost zero contribution of carbohydrates.
Eating them is very easy, it is a bit like the process of eating a kiwi: it is enough to cut the fruit to expose the pulp and it can be eaten in bites or with the help of a small spoon. The seeds can be eaten without any problem and, in fact, the most common thing is to do it, since removing them is cumbersome and unnecessary and, what’s more, they also provide beneficial nutrients. There are also many who choose to cut the fruit into slices or quarters and remove the skin to use it in dishes, both in desserts and breakfasts as well as in main dishes.
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