Dragon Fruit Tree: How To Identify (Pics) Grow Zones, Indoor Dragon Fruit Plants

Woman carrying fruit walks toward a dragon fruit tree (selenicereus undatus) after learning how to identify dragonfruit and grow dragon fruit trees, for both outdoor and indoor dragon fruit plants.

As Dragon Fruit becomes more and more popular, public interest about how to grow a Dragon Fruit Tree at home has also increased.

The fruit’s delicious taste and nutritional benefits makes it a great addition to anyone’s diet, and growing fruit at home is the best way to make sure that the fruit you eat has zero carbon footprint.

A member of the Cactus family, the Dragon Fruit (also known as the pitaya or pitahaya fruit) is a plant that can be used for a variety of purposes. In addition to their ornamental qualities, under the best-growing conditions for Dragon Fruit Tree plants, it is possible to take a Dragon Fruit from seed to harvest fwithin 2 years.

The exotic, colorful fruits and thick cactus vines of the Dragon Fruit cactus naturally inspire curiosity about different varieties of Dragon Fruit, where do Dragon Fruit grow, and how to grow a Dragon Fruit Tree.

This complete guide explains how to identify and grow a Dragon fruit tree both indoors and out, so that you can enjoy this tropical fruit whenever you like.

What Is a Dragon Fruit or Pitaya Fruit?

There is some potential for confusion when it comes to what exactly a Dragon Fruit is.

Most commonly, the term is applied to the fruit of the plant Selenicereus undatus, but it can also be applied to the fruit of any plants in the genus according to Wikipedia.12

Dragon Fruit Tree

(Selenicereus undatus)

Dragon Fruit Tree in oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Genus: Selenicereus
  • Leaf: None (Spines)
  • Bark: None
  • Seed: Small, black, oblong seeds in fruit.
  • Blossoms: Greenish-yellow or white flowers
  • Fruit: Bright pink with leathery, leafy skin
  • Native Habitat: Mexico, Central and South America
  • Height: 5-10m (16-33ft)
  • Canopy: None
  • Type: Cactus
  • Native Growing Zone: USDA Zones 10a-11

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Data Deficient


Dragon Fruit is also sometimes known as pitaya or pitaya fruit, although that term could be misleading; this term refers not just to the fruit of Selenicereus plants but those of a few other cactus genera as well.

The plant is also referred to as the pitahaya cactus in Mexico, in particular.

How To Identify Dragon Fruit Tree (Picture of Dragon Fruit)

A Dragon Fruit Tree is a very distinctive plant, easy to identify even without its distinctive fruit.

The plant grows its distinctive vines out to lengths of up to 30 feet.

Dragon Fruit Tree identification chart showing Dragon Fruit leaves, Dragon Fruit flowers, and Dragon Fruit.

In the wild, these plants will usually grow from the ground by climbing up another plant, so you can grow it alongside another plant as a prop.

The stems the plant grows are thick, waxy, and segmented, with spines or flowers growing from regularly spaced margins.

While this plant may not seem to have the classic parts of a tree, that’s simply because it has evolved to thrive in different conditions than most other types of trees.

Dragon Fruit Tree Leaves

Cacti, or succulent types of plants, like the Dragon Fruit Tree, don’t have leaves.

Technically, the spines most cacti grow are a highly specialized form of leaf, but they fulfill a different function for the plant.

Dragon Fruit Flower (Dragon Fruit Tree Flower)

Dragon Fruit flowers bloom at night and only last for 24 hours.

Its large blossoms grow from stem margins along the ribs.1

Close-up view of a dragon fruit flower displaying vibrant yellow color in the center, surrounded by delicate white petals.

(Image: Quangpraha20)

The flowers are large and usually white in color.

Dragon Fruit Tree Seeds

Dragon Fruit seeds are found in the fruit. In order to find them, you need to know how to open Dragon Fruit. Using a sharp knife, cut the fruit open lengthwise and you’ll see that the interior is the white flesh of the fruit and numerous tiny, black, oblong seeds.

Types of Dragon Fruit

As it has been cultivated around the world, a number of different varieties of dragonfruit have been developed, along with a range of Dragon Fruit colors. The most common variety is called the white Dragon Fruit, named for the color of the flesh inside of the pink-skinned fruit.

According to the Northern Territory government in Australia,13 the other most common variety is the Red Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus costaricensis), which has similar skin to the white Dragon Fruit, but the flesh on the interior of the fruit is a vibrant red color.

Pink Dragon Fruit is technically just specific shades of red but is sometimes referred to separately.2

Blue Dragon Fruit do exist, but instead of being their own varietal, they are just unripe; though they are still highly nutritious, they are generally considered to taste pretty unpleasant.

Yellow Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus megalanthus), as you may be able to predict, have a yellow rind; this variety of Dragon Fruit is generally agreed to be among the sweetest.

Dragon Fruit Cactus

While the Dragon Fruit Tree is technically a cactus, some confusion is understandable because it does have some characteristics that make it very distinct from the common perception of a cactus.

Close-up view of a Dragon Fruit Cactus actively photosynthesizing under the nourishing rays of sunlight.

(Image: Judgefloro21)

Like other cacti, Dragon Fruit Trees prefer an environment with a relatively high ambient temperature, but Dragon Fruit Trees are native to a tropical environment as opposed to the desert biome typically associated with cacti.

Don’t let these differences fool you, however; like other cacti, the Dragon Fruit Tree is a resilient plant that can survive a wide range of conditions. Its thick, waxy stems allow the Dragon Fruit Tree to retain a lot of water, making this plant moderately drought-resistant.

There is a notable gap between being able to survive a drought and thrive in one, however; if you want the most fruit possible from your Dragon Fruit Tree, you’ll want to make sure to keep the soil in which it is planted moist.

Selenicereus undatus

Originally, the Dragon Fruit Tree (Or, rather, Dragon Fruit cactus) was taxonomically assigned to the genus Hylocereus, also known as the night-blooming cactuses.

However, according to Wikipedia in 2017 a study found that all of the species within the genus Hylocereus are actually a fit for the genus Selenicereus sometimes called the moonlight cacti.14 The genus gets its name from Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon.

The species name, Undatus, translates from Latin as “wavy,” referring to the plant’s wavy stems.

Where Do Dragon Fruit Come From?

Where do Dragon Fruits grow? All around the world, but they do have a very specific point of origin. While these fruits are often associated with Southeast Asian cuisine (And they are quite popular in that part of the world), this is not their native region.

This plant is actually native to the western coastal regions of southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.

From there, they have since spread to be cultivated around the world. In addition to Latin America, East Asia, Israel, Southeast Asia, India, the Caribbean, and Australia are all home to large-scale agricultural growth of Dragon Fruit, and many parts of the world beyond are also home to the Dragon Fruit Tree.

Origin of the Name of the Dragon Fruit Plant

The original name for the Dragon Fruit was the pitahaya cactus.

The more common name for this fruit first came around as a result of 19th-century colonialism, having been taken by the French when they ruled Mexico and introduced to their colony in Vietnam (Then called Indochina).

There, the uniquely shaped fruit quickly earned this plant the name thanh long,3 which translates to “Dragon Fruit.”

Dragon Fruit Tree Facts

  • In spite of their size and name, Dragon Fruit is technically classified as berries!
  • In addition to pitaya and pitahaya, Dragon Fruit is also known as “strawberry pears.” The Dragon Fruit Tree is also known as a “moonflower,” “queen of the night” or “night blooming cereus” due to its unusual habit of blooming at night.
  • Dragon Fruit is 90% water, which helps explain its low-calorie count.
  • Dragon Fruit can be eaten raw, juiced, blended, mixed into drinks or ice cream, mixed into fruit salads, or used in baked goods.
  • Combined with cucumber juice and honey, Dragon Fruit can be used like aloe to soothe burned skin.
  • Adding Dragon Fruit to your diet can help lower your cholesterol.
  • Dragon Fruit also has anti-inflammatory properties and may help ease joint pain if consumed.
  • In nature, Dragon Fruit Trees rely upon moths and bats to serve as pollinators.
  • If you consume too much red Dragon Fruit, you may be in for a shock when you next go to the restroom, as they can turn your urine reddish in color.
  • Vietnam is the world’s leading producer of Dragon Fruit.

Growing Dragon Fruit

With the best-growing conditions for Dragon Fruit Tree plants, these visually striking cacti are relatively simple to grow from seeds or cuttings.

The watering needs for Dragon Fruit Tree plants are relatively minor; succulents like cacti are adapted to retain water within their stems.

A detailed close-up view showcasing the vibrant colors and unique textures of ripe dragon fruits.

(Image: PublicDomainPictures22)

When you do water them, make sure to do so quite thoroughly, but you should only need to do that when the soil is completely dry.

With such an unorthodox plant, many first-time growers are unsure of how long it takes to grow Dragon Fruit Tree. As you might imagine, the amount of time it takes for a Dragon Fruit Tree to mature varies depending on whether you start with a seed, clipping, or an existing seedling.

If you are unsure of how long does it take for a tree to grow, Dragon Fruit Trees may test your patience, as it may be a year or longer before your plant is ready to bear fruit.

You may wonder when to plant Dragon Fruit Tree for the best yield. Disappointingly, there is no one size fits all resolution to this query.

It can be argued that spring would be the best time to plant Dragon Fruit Trees, but others believe that there isn’t a specific best time to plant because of the length of time Dragon Fruit Trees take to grow. While a consensus is difficult to find, a number of planting tips for Dragon Fruit Tree plants are included below.

If you are going to plant multiple Dragon Fruit plants, it is important to know how far apart to plant Dragon Fruit Tree plants. It’s natural to want to make sure that you don’t waste space unnecessarily, but overcrowding your Dragon Fruit plants could keep them from growing.

The ideal distance between your Dragon Fruit plants is to leave between 10 and 16 feet between individual plants and between rows.4

Additionally, it may be that you’re hoping to use Dragon Fruit plants as simply one part of a more varied garden. In that case, ideal companion plants for growing Dragon Fruit Tree plants include agave, ice plant, Texas sage, and yucca.5

These plants can all thrive in similar conditions to a Dragon Fruit Tree and have similar limited water requirements.

Dragon Fruit are a highly-priced rarity on grocery shelves, often retailing for 8 to 10 dollars per fruit. Such a high price for a relatively small fruit makes one wonder “Why is Dragon Fruit so expensive?” A number of factors contribute to this.

The need for a tropical growing climate and the high demand for Dragon Fruit contribute to the price, but the potential time investment before a plant produces fruit is also a significant factor. The time from planting to harvesting varies depending upon the specific circumstances but can range from a few months to multiple years.

Dragon Fruit Tree Growing Zone

If you are interested in helping these plants thrive in your garden, it is vital to understand the growing zones for Dragon Fruit Tree (where to grow); that is, what the optimal environmental conditions for these plants are and where those conditions can be found.

If you live in the ideal growing zone for Dragon Fruit Trees, your location alone will go a long way toward making sure your plants are healthy. The USDA Hardiness Zone system describes the climate-influenced growing conditions across the United States.6

The Dragon Fruit Tree is shown to grow in the following zones:

USDA Zone 10: Southeast California, Large parts of Hawaii, and the southern tip of Texas

USDA Zone 11: The Big Island of Hawaii and the Florida Keys.

If you live outside of these regions, do not despair; you may still be able to grow a Dragon Fruit Tree either in a pot or in a controlled, indoor environment.

However, growing a Dragon Fruit Tree outside of the recommended USDA Plant Hardiness Zones can require significant additional effort. If you encounter issues, be sure to contact a local nursery in your area to get specialized tips for keeping these plants healthy in your region.

The typical Dragon Fruit season for peak availability is from June to November in the northern hemisphere, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.15

Dragon Fruit Tree Growth Rate

Dragon Fruit Trees grow rapidly, sometimes in excess of an inch per day. The plant tends to grow more quickly when grown from clippings than when grown from seeds.

Growth chart: Dragon Fruit Tree growth chart showing full grown Dragon Fruit Tree on a line graph with Dragon Fruit Tree age on the 24-28 months and Dragon Fruit Tree height on the 15-20 feet.

Because of this rapid rate of growth, it is important to have a plan for how to direct this climbing plant’s growth. Particularly with a plant that grows this quickly and climbs, it is very important to make sure you’ve got proper support planned out for your Dragon Fruit Tree.

Growing From Dragon Fruit Seed

growing a dragon fruit tree from a cutting requires patience. In order to grow Dragon Fruit from seeds, take some of the flesh of the fruit and rinse off most of the flesh. In all likelihood some of the flesh will cling to the seeds; this should not pose any issue.

Plant your Dragon Fruit seeds in a small container, like a plastic cup or small pot, with a seed starter mix for soil. The solid should be kept moist, but be careful to avoid flooding it.

If all goes well, your seeds will begin to sprout after approximately a month. When this happens, you can split your seedlings up and place them each into their own soil.

In terms of ideal methods of planting for a Dragon Fruit Tree, it is considered a best practice to use pit planting (digging out a mini-basin to plant the seeds in, aiding in water retention.)

Alternatively, one study shared through the National Library of Medicine argues that if you plant your Dragon Fruit Trees in shallow trenches instead,16 you may end up producing more fruit.

Regardless of the approach you favor, these plants can potentially take years to mature fully, and you will probably need to pollinate them by hand if you want them to produce fruit.

Dragon Fruit Seedling or Clipping

If you are concerned about the lengthy maturation time, that can be partially mitigated if you use a seedling (young plant) or a clipping (section of a larger plant that has been cut off) as your starting point instead of a seed.

Growing a Dragon Fruit Tree from a seedling is a more straightforward process while growing a Dragon Fruit Tree from a cutting requires a bit more technique to get started. Dragon Fruit Trees can grow from surprisingly small sections of the stem with a little care.

Growing from Dragon Fruit Seedling or Clipping

If you have a Dragon Fruit seedling, make sure to give it room to grow. While these seedlings can be transported easily in a smaller pot, if you want the plant to reach its full size (and have the increased yield that comes along with that), you will need to move it into a planter where it has the room it needs to grow.

You can also grow more Dragon Fruit plants from a plant you already have. To take cuttings from an existing stem you need to take a segment of a stem, ideally between 6 and 15 inches long, and make a slanted cut at its base.

Next, go over the cut section with a fungicide to support the Dragon Fruit Tree’s health. Keep the clipping in an area out of direct light for about a week so it can dry, and then apply a root hormone to your clipping and place it in the soil.

This cactus prefers a more tropical environment than its desert-dwelling kin, so you can use either cactus soil or classic potting soil and expect good results.

Mulch Use With Your Dragonfruit Plant

Using mulch around your Dragon Fruit Trees can be a great help to their growth, as mulch can aid in limiting how many weeds grow near your Dragon Fruit Tree.

Mulch can also help keep the soil around your Dragon Fruit Tree moist, serving as a barrier to evaporation. If you decide to use mulch with your Dragon Fruit Tree, you want to make sure that you leave eight inches around the base of the plant free from mulch; if you don’t, there’s a threat that the plant could begin to rot.

What Fertilizer Should I Use for My Dragon Fruit Tree?

Like many plants, Dragon Fruit Trees respond well to fertilizer, particularly in the earlier stages of development. A regular 20-20-20 fertilizer applied every couple of months should be sufficient to promote healthy growth.

As the Dragon Fruit Tree matures, the frequency of fertilizer applications can be reduced to a few times a year. Making sure that the soil also has an abundance of organic matter like compost added to it twice a year will also help it grow in as healthy a manner as possible.

Many mixes are specifically designed for succulents and these types of plants.

A beautiful, exotic plant with a stout constitution and delicious superfood fruit, the Dragon Fruit Tree is a strong candidate for placement in numerous home gardens.

While it is true that in the early stages, these plants can need a bit of extra support, Dragon Fruit Trees can quickly become robust mainstays of a landscape.

Keep these distinct cacti free from disease, protected from pests, and pollinated, and you can look forward to many years of the delicious, healthy Dragon Fruit of your labors.

Dragon Fruit Plant: Indoor Growing

If you don’t have the outdoor square footage to support Dragon Fruit Trees and start a Dragon Fruit farm, or if you happen to live outside of the narrowly-defined climate zones the plant prefers, there’s no need for despair. This plant can be grown indoors with a few simple adaptations.

It would be understandable if, when coming up with a plan to grow dragonfruit trees indoors, the first question you asked yourself was “How much sunlight does Dragon Fruit Tree need each day?”

Because these tropical cacti require significant quantities of direct sunlight, there are a few steps that can be taken to ensure that your Dragon Fruit Tree still gets the light it needs.

To start, and perhaps self-evidently, when growing the Dragon Fruit plant indoors you should make absolutely sure that you place the plant somewhere that will get a lot of direct sunlight. If you have a sunroom or a greenhouse, those would be great places to ensure the plants got enough sun.

If not, simply make sure you place the plant next to a large window that gets direct light. It may also promote healthy growth if you can make sure the Dragon Fruit Tree is rotated every so often, making sure the whole plant gets access to that direct sunlight.

Dragon Fruit Trees grow best when they have between 6 and 8 hours of direct sunlight (at a minimum). If you live in an area where that is not achievable with natural light, whether due to weather or time of year, you can purchase grow lights to ensure that your plants still get the light they need even when the environment in your area fails to provide it.

These tropical plants are able to grow most successfully when they are kept in an area of between 30 and 50% humidity. Monitor this humidity and mist the plant with a spray bottle or set up a humidifier as needed.

The ideal temperature range for a Dragon Fruit Tree is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but as long as the temperature doesn’t go below 32 or above 100 degrees, there shouldn’t be a notable decrease in the number of fruit the plant yields.

As these plants grow to be quite large, you want to make sure that there is ample space for your Dragon Fruit Tree to grow, perhaps by setting up a Dragon Fruit trellis in order to direct its growth in the directions you prefer. Additionally, these plants usually rely on pollinators, so you may have to hand-pollinate yours in order to have it bear fruit.

Pollinating Dragonfruit Plants

Especially outside of the plant’s native range, hand-pollination is the best way to ensure your Dragon Fruit Tree bears fruit. Luckily, this is a very efficient process and may even increase the yield of fruit.

Because of the short-lived and nocturnal nature of the plant’s blooms, it is important to act quickly when flowers appear on your plant to pollinate it, which should be done at night or during the early morning.

In order to hand pollinate your Dragon Fruit Tree, all you need to do is collect pollen from a flower and apply it to another flower’s stigma, the nodule at the end of the central tendril inside the flower.

Most common varieties of Dragon Fruit are self-pollinating, so you can use pollen from a plant on that same plant’s flowers and still develop fruit. However, the University of Florida recommends planting multiple genetic types and cross-pollinating them to ensure optimal potential for fruit production.17

When Is Dragon Fruit Ripe?

A Dragon Fruit is ripe when the outer skin is bright pink and the fruit has a bit of give.

Once you notice that the fruit are ripe, you should harvest them immediately, as leaving them on the plant for too long could cause them to rot.

Close-up view of a fully ripe dragon fruit, highlighting its vibrant colors and enticing textures.

(Image: SE-KIMSENG23)

You want just a slight amount of give to the fruit, as one that is too mushy is probably overripe.7

In order to safely remove the fruit from the Dragon Fruit Tree, it is recommended to use a pruning knife. That way you can efficiently remove the fruit without injuring yourself on the plant’s spines.

Once you’ve selected a fruit, the next question is how to cut Dragon Fruit. Typically, it is considered best to cut a fruit open lengthwise, and then the flesh can be scooped out of the inside of a Dragon Fruit.

What Are the Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit?

Dragon Fruit offers a variety of health benefits to those who consume them, according to at least one study.18 This fruit is fat-free and high in fiber, which makes them a healthy choice of snack.

They are highly rich in antioxidants, which may help to prevent or delay cell damage. Some studies on non-human subjects have indicated that Dragon Fruit could help to lower blood sugar by restoring cells in the pancreas, although these results have not yet been recreated with humans.

Dragon Fruit is a “superfood,” and another health benefit they offer is nutrients to support probiotics in the intestines, which are helpful with the process of digestion.

Dragon Fruit is also high in vitamin C; this means that eating Dragon Fruit can offer your immune system a boost. The high levels of iron contained in Dragon Fruit increase the amount of oxygen the blood is able to transport, which translates to an increase in energy levels.

Dragon Fruit Tree Disease Prevention

Like any living organism, the Dragon Fruit Tree is susceptible to a variety of maladies. Thankfully, Dragon Fruit plant care is typically pretty straightforward, and the plants are relatively resilient.

One fungal infection the plant can suffer is known as Anthracnose. This infection causes concentric ring-shaped lesions, which can occur either on the fruit or the stems.

Botryosphaeria dothidea is another fungal infection causing blotches of red or brown to appear on the stems which may resemble a bullseye. This infection is usually spread via unsanitized gardening tools.

In addition to fungal infections, Dragon Fruit Trees suffer from a few common diseases as well. Bipoaris cactivora causes black and brown spotting on the flowers and fruit, while mottled splotches in various shades of green could indicate cactus mild mottle virus.

If your plant’s stems have begun to turn yellow or rot, Enterobacteria may be to blame, especially if your Dragon Fruit plant is in soil that doesn’t supply enough calcium or nitrogen. Enterobacteria infection is a relatively minor health issue for a Dragon Fruit Tree; nevertheless, to ensure the health of your plant it is suggested that the infected portions be removed.

How To Stop Dragon Fruit Tree Disease

If the fungus has taken hold of your Dragon Fruit Tree, a copper fungicide may be the most effective solution.8 As is true in disease prevention for any living thing, unsanitary conditions are a primary vector for infection.

Since an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure, make sure you sterilize your garden tools by going over them with rubbing alcohol, peroxide, or a bleach solution; this will kill off most potential infections.

To promote the general health of your Dragon Fruit Trees, be sure to clear out any plant debris that may be infected, along with any weeds that may be growing close to them, and take care to ensure access to necessary nutrients, water, and fertilizer, as these can also help to ensure the robust development of the plants.

Pruning is also a valuable step toward protecting your Dragon Fruit Tree’s health.10

An individual engaged in the pruning process of a dragon fruit tree.

(Image: USDA Photo By Lance Cheung24)

Keeping up a regular pruning routine is a strong layer of protection against fungal infections, as well as some pests.

Pruning also improves how many fruit your Dragon Fruit Tree grows, leaving space for the remaining sections of the plant to get direct light.

The best practice is to prune Dragon Fruit Trees every 4-6 months on average. This is a simple process of identifying overly long, tangled, damaged, or dead stems and simply removing them from the plant.

If done properly, this can increase the number of flowers (and correspondingly, the number of fruit) your Dragon Fruit Tree will produce.

Common Pests of the Dragon Fruit Tree

The Dragon Fruit Tree is a tough, resilient plant, but it does still suffer from pests.

Illustrations depicting common pests that affect the Dragon Fruit Tree, providing visual representations of the various insects and organisms that can pose threats to its health and productivity.

A variety of insects and arachnids are perfectly happy to feed on Dragon Fruit Trees.

  • Mites: If you see silk webbing on your Dragon Fruit plant, along with damage in a speckled pattern on the stems, you may have a problem with spider mites. These tiny arachnids (you might need a magnifying glass to make them out) feed on plants.
  • Scale Insects & Mealybugs: These insects hunker down under a protective shell, feeding off of plants by inserting their mouth parts into the plant and sucking the sap out.
  • Aphids: These wingless, green insects (usually about ⅛ of an inch long) are typically found in large numbers, and not only do they feed on plants’ sap, but they also secrete a sweet liquid called honeydew that attracts ants.9

Because they can be a significant threat to the health of your Dragon Fruit Tree, it is very important to know how to get rid of aphids.

  • Ants: Ants present an interesting threat to a Dragon Fruit plant in that they don’t necessarily feed on the plant themselves.

Instead, they feed on the honeydew created by aphids feeding on the plant.

Numerous black ants dispersed around the Dragon Fruit, creating a scene of bustling activity in the vicinity of the fruit.

(Image: HuyNgan25)

Ants can actually make an aphid problem worse, as they will defend their food source from predators who might otherwise help control the aphids, leading the aphid population to increase dramatically.

  • Caterpillars: Some species of caterpillars may want to feed off of the plant, but removing them is relatively simple; just grab them and move them off of the plant.

As some caterpillars can be poisonous or pose another danger, you may want to put on gloves prior to grabbing them.

  • Beetles: Your Dragon Fruit Trees are susceptible to being fed upon by a number of beetle species. A particularly notorious example of this is the banded cucumber beetle (Diabrotica balteata).

The beetle’s larval state feeds on the roots of the Dragon Fruit Tree, often unnoticed as this takes place underground. The adults feed on the fruits, flowers, and stems of the plant.

While one solitary beetle may not be a major problem, their population can grow quickly, and large numbers of beetles could really harm a Dragon Fruit Tree.

  • Fruit Flies: There are several species of fly that lay their eggs on Dragon Fruit Trees. The eggs themselves are relatively harmless, but once they hatch the larvae will tunnel their way into the fruit, which can ruin an individual fruit or, if the problem is widespread enough, cause the plant to drop all of its fruit well ahead of their ripeness.
  • Leaf-Footed Bugs: According to the University of Florida,19 two primary species of leaf-footed bugs will damage Dragon Fruit Trees. These large, distinctive-looking insects feed on various parts of the plant, and their feeding habits also serve as a vector for introducing bacteria and fungi into a previously-healthy plant.

Leaf-footed bugs also sometimes lay their eggs on Dragon Fruit Trees, with the resulting larvae posing a threat as well.

  • Snails/Slugs: Young Dragon Fruit Trees in particular are susceptible to having large sections chewed away by snails and slugs, which can impede the healthy development of the stems.
  • Thrips: These small, four-winged insects are difficult to see, as they only grow to sizes of about 1/20th of an inch. You may be able to tell that thrips are feeding on your plant if a speckled or spotted pattern of damage appears.

These insects may also scar the fruit, leaving unsightly marks of damage.11

  • Mammals (Deer, Rabbits, etc): While not a particularly significant threat, in areas where these animals are common it is not unheard of for deer and rabbits to nibble on a Dragon Fruit Tree.
  • Birds: Birds can be a significant danger to Dragon Fruit Trees. They are pecking holes in the fruit as they ripen.

Natural Pest Control for Dragon Fruit Tree

Protecting the health of your Dragon Fruit Tree is very important to protect both the ornamental appeal and the healthy fruit the plant can produce.

As a result, cultivators around the world have developed a wide range of methods that can be used to reduce the threat pests pose to Dragon Fruit Trees.

Close-up view of a succulent Dragon Fruit with a bird perched gracefully atop it.

(Image: dpi_teh26)

Bags and Crop Cages: The most direct way to protect your Dragon Fruit from pests is to put up a physical barrier between the pests and the plant. Placing protective bags around the fruit can keep pests from eating them.

To protect the rest of the plant, some manner of crop cage or enclosure would protect the entire plant, although it may be an unwelcome disruption of the visual landscape of your garden.

Soap: Another effective pest deterrent that won’t break the bank is spraying the plant and pests with soapy water. This has a low impact on the ecosystem around your plants but is a powerful deterrent to most insects that would try to feed on your Dragon Fruit Tree.

Cleanliness: It is as true for pests as it is for the threat of disease that damage to Dragon Fruit Trees can be protected against by maintaining a clean area around each plant that is clear of weeds or any other plants that are unwanted.

What Is the Benefit of Using a Trellis With a Dragon Fruit Tree?

The Dragon Fruit Tree is a climbing plant, and it can grow at a high rate. As it grows, the thick stems of this cactus can droop down to the ground.

If the stems of the plant fall to the ground, it can damage the plant and could impact that plant’s capacity to produce flowers and fruit.

By loosely connecting the plant to a trellis or similar structure, you can promote the healthy growth and development of your Dragon Fruit Tree.

As climate change continues to have a pronounced effect on the world, it may be worthwhile to be proactive about your carbon output. This Carbon Footprint Calculator can help you determine how much carbon you produce, which could be the first step in coming up with a plan to reduce it.

Growing a Dragon Fruit Tree can be an extreme test of your patience, as there can be a substantial delay between the start of growth and the first harvest. Even so, this visually appealing tropical cactus is tough, and it has the potential to be a spectacular piece of a garden or interior space.

By developing a comprehensive plan for directing the growth of your Dragon Fruit plant and being prepared for pollinating the short-lived flowers when they appear, you can grow Dragon Fruit Tree as a productive and beautiful part of your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dragon Fruit Tree

What Do Dragon Fruit Taste Like?

The flavor of Dragon Fruit has been compared to a pear mixed with a kiwi, mild and sweet.

How Long Do Dragon Fruit Trees Live?

Dragon Fruit plants can produce fruit until they are between 20 and 30 years old. Individual stems can grow to be up to 20 feet long over the plant’s lifespan, and the plant itself can grow up to 40 feet tall before the end of its life.

How Can I Tell if My Dragon Fruit Has Gone Bad?

If your fruit has brown blotches or a stem that has dried out and shriveled, it may be overripe and therefore unfit for consumption.

How Long Do Dragon Fruit Keep?

Once removed from the plant, Dragon Fruit can last around 3 days without refrigeration before they begin to spoil. If lowered to a temperature of around 45 degrees Fahrenheit and kept in a ventilated bag, Dragon Fruit can keep for 2 weeks, and if frozen they can last up to three months.

What Soil Type Is Best for Dragon Fruit Trees?

The Dragon Fruit cactus is a hardy plant, not too terribly picky about soil type or pH. As long as the soil is moist, well-draining, and rich in organic matter your Dragon Fruit Tree should grow quickly.


1San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (2023). Dragonfruit (Pitahaya, Pitaya). San Diego Zoo. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/dragonfruit-pitahaya-pitaya>

2Musica, N. (2020, July 17). Different Types of Dragon Fruit. Fruitstand. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://fruitstand.com/blogs/stories/different-types-of-dragon-fruit>

3Arita, I. (2018, July 23). PITAYA AND PITAHAYA. My Slice of Mexico. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://mysliceofmexico.ca/2018/07/23/pitaya-and-pitahaya/>

4Bohol, E. (2022, October 10). Dragon Fruit Planting Distances and Trellising. Wikifarmer. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://wikifarmer.com/dragon-fruit-planting-distances-and-trellising/#:~:text=A%20commonly%20used%20planting%20pattern,feet%20between%20plants%20and%20rows.&text=Spacing%20is%20important%20since%20a,factors%20to%20take%20into%20consideration>

5Taylor, C. (2020, October 23). Growing Dragon Fruits: Best varieties, planting guide, care, problems and harvest. Morning Chores. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://morningchores.com/growing-dragon-fruits/>

6United States Department of Agriculture (2023). USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. USDA Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/>

7Unpeeled Journal. (2023). All About Dragon Fruit. Unpeeled Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2023, from <https://unpeeledjournal.com/how-to-cut-what-is-dragon-fruit/>

8Grant, A. (2021, February 15). Common Pitaya Problems: Dragon Fruit Pests And Diseases. Gardening Know How. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/dragon-fruit/dragon-fruit-pests-diseases.htm#:~:text=But%20the%20best%20way%20to,that%20can%20also%20spread%20disease>

9Godawa, J. (2014, August 14). What Insect Pests Attack Dragon Fruit? Week&. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://www.weekand.com/home-garden/article/insect-pests-attacks-dragon-fruit-18006358.php>

10Johnstone, G. (2022, October 10). How to Grow Dragon Fruit Cactus. The Spruce. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://www.thespruce.com/growing-dragonfruit-plants-5086867>

11Carillo, D., Duncan, R., & Peña, J. E. (2023). Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) (Hylocereus undatus) Pests and Beneficial Insects. Insects on Pitaya|Pitahaya|Dragon Fruit. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/media/trecifasufledu/public-notices/Pitaya-EDIS.pdf>

12Wikipedia. (2023, February 17). Selenicereus. Wikipedia. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selenicereus>

13Northern Territory Government of Australia. (2016, February 26). Pitaya: dragon fruit. Northern Territory Government. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://nt.gov.au/environment/home-gardens/growing-vegetables-at-home/pitaya-dragon-fruit>

14Wikipedia. (2022, November 2). Hylocereus. Wikipedia. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hylocereus>

15Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (2023). Dragon Fruit. Back to FDACS Homepage Commissioner Wilton Simpson. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://www.fdacs.gov/Consumer-Resources/Buy-Fresh-From-Florida/Tropical-Fruit/Dragon-Fruit>

16Wakchaure, G.C., Minhas, P.S., Kumar, S., Mane, P., Kumar, P. S., Rane, J., & Pathak, H. (2022, November 11). Long-term response of dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) to transformed rooting zone of a shallow soil improving yield, storage quality and profitability in a drought prone semi-arid agro-ecosystem. NIH. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9694100/>

17Crane, J. H., & Balerdi, C. F. (2020, January 8). PITAYA (DRAGONFRUIT) GROWING IN THE FLORIDA HOME LANDSCAPE. UF|IFAS Extension. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/HS303>

18Nishikito, D. F., Borges, A. C. A., Laurindo, L. F., Otoboni, A. M. M. B., Direito, R., Goulart, R. d. A., Nicolau, C. C. T., Fiorini, A. M. R., Sinatora, R. V., & Barbalho, S. M. (2023, January 3). Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, and Other Health Effects of Dragon Fruit and Potential Delivery Systems for Its Bioactive Compounds. NIH. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9861186/#ack-1title>

19Carrillo, D., Duncan, R., & Peña, J. E. (2023). Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) (Hylocereus undatus) Pests and Beneficial Insects. UF/IFAS Extension. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from <https://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/media/trecifasufledu/public-notices/Pitaya-EDIS.pdf>

20Dragon Fruit Flower Photo by Quang Nguyen vinh / Quangpraha. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/fruit-dragon-flower-white-yellow-3039597/>

21Dragon Fruit Cactus Photo by Judgefloro. CC0 1.0 Deed. Public Domain. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 3, 2023 from <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:734Santo_Tomas,_Batangas_Barangays_22.jpg>

22Dragon Fruits Photo by PublicDomainPictures. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/dragon-fruit-fruit-food-pitaya-84719/>

23Ripe Dragon Fruit Photo by SE-KIMSENG / KIMSENG SE. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/ripe-dragon-fruit-1544875/>

24Dragon Frui Tree USDA Photo by Lance Cheung. PDM 1.0 Deed / Public Domain Mark 1.0 Universal . Resized and Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <https://flic.kr/p/2dSiMZX>

25Dragon Fruit With Ants Photo by HuyNgan. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/ant-black-ant-flower-dragon-fruit-4133699/>

26Dragon Fruit With Bird Photo by dpi_teh. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 3, 2024 from <https://pixabay.com/photos/red-bird-dragon-fruit-green-4374273/>