Growing dragon fruit indoors is an interesting challenge for gardeners. Dragon fruit’s are exotic and colorful, and add a real splash to any garden. Even better, they’re actually easier to grow than you might think.
In this article, we’ll look at everything it takes to grow this delicious fruit indoors. By the end, you’ll be ready to start growing your very own dragon fruit!
Dragon Fruit Soil
Dragon fruit plants require very little in terms of soil. Your best bet is to use a cacti or succulent soil as dragon fruit thrive best in quickly draining environments.
Ordinary potting soil also works well for dragon fruit plants. If your potting soil holds too much water, you may want to add in some perlite or vermiculite to help increase drainage. You can also do a 50/50 mix of regular potting soil and cacti soil. This will increase drainage, and is often cheaper than using strictly cacti soil.
Incidentally, this plant thrives when the soil is slightly acidic. So, you may want to add in some compost as well to increase the acidity of the soil while improving its nutrient content.
A five-gallon container that is at least 10 to 12 inches deep is the ideal size for starting with your dragon fruit plant. You should also ensure that your chosen container has proper drainage.
As dragon fruit can grow quite tall, it’s best to get a container made of heavy materials to prevent toppling issues. Ceramic or terracotta pots are better than plastic ones as they are less likely to topple over.
To further prevent the plant from falling over, add some pebbles or stones at the bottom of the container before adding the soil. These will help add weight to the container and stabilize your plant.
Additionally, you may need to repot the plant every so often. Usually, the dragon fruit plant can become root-bound after a year of active growth. If your plant’s growth has slowed, a larger container may be the solution.
If you have the space for it, a 25- to 30-gallon container works really well, especially if it has a depth of at least 20 to 24 inches. This will help cut down on repeated repotting and avoid disturbing the roots of the plant due to frequent transplanting.
Lighting and Location Requirements
Dragon fruit plants need at least six hours of full sunlight per day. This amount will help in the development of the flowers and the eventual fruits. If you can place it in an area that receives more than six hours of direct sunlight, it will grow all the better.
The most ideal locations inside the house are near windows that face the east, west, and south. However, you may want to provide a bit of a filter when placing it in front of a south-facing window as the light may be too intense.
You should also try rotating your dragon plant regularly. This will help expose all parts of the dragon fruit plant to direct sunlight frequently, and at the same time, you get more even growth out of your plant. Leaning plants are often caused by an unequal distribution of light.
If direct natural light is a problem for you, you can always use grow lights. These will help compensate for low light levels as these lights mimic strong sunlight. Make sure that they are full-spectrum LED grow lights to help you get the most out of your plants.
If your dragon fruit plant has been in low light conditions for a while, let it get used to high levels of light to avoid shock or trauma. Place the grow light 30 inches away from the plant, and slowly inch it closer over the course of several days.
Dragon fruit plants are succulents and will react negatively if their roots are constantly wet. To avoid this, you’ll have to ensure two things: well-draining soil and correct watering.
It’s better to slightly underwater your dragon fruit plants than to overwater them. Dragon fruit plants can get by on some dryness for short periods of time, but overwatering will surely kill them.
During its active growing season, water the soil only when the top 2-3 inches are dry. Water until you see it begin to leak out of the drainage holes. This is a good signal that the soil is completely saturated. During the winter season, cut back on watering as the plant is dormant during this time.
Temperature and Humidity
Keep your dragon fruit plant in rooms that have temperatures that range from 65 F to 85 F. Despite its love for warmth, temperatures over 100 F can harm your plant, so it’s best to avoid subjecting it to these high temperatures.
The dragon fruit plant does not tolerate frost at all. During winter, keep it away from windows that get cold or allow drafts inside. If your space allows it, bring it near your heater so that it can enjoy the warm temperatures even in winter.
To keep your dragon fruit plant from drying out, keep the humidity at 30 percent to 50 percent. A humidifier is an amazing tool to help you get this condition. Alternatively, you can create a humidity tray by placing one with pebbles and water near the plant.
Dragon Fruit Propagation
They may not look like it, but dragon fruit plants are some of the easiest plants to propagate. There are three ways to go about it, which are from seeds, by cuttings or division, and by grafting.
Among the three, cutting or division is the easiest. Growing dragon fruit plants from seed will take a long time before they fully become a mature plant. Grafting is a fun method, but it is best suited to advanced gardeners.
To propagate by cutting, all you need is a couple of healthy stems from a parent dragon fruit plant. After cutting, allow them to dry for about two to three days. This will cause the cut parts of the cuttings, which are often called the callous, to dry.
Once the cuttings have dried, dip the ends into some rooting hormone. Rooting hormones will help your cuttings develop roots faster while preventing fungus growth. This isn’t strictly necessary, but increases your chances of success.
Place the cuttings in loose, well-draining soil. Make sure that the calloused ends are in the soil because these ends will be the ones to develop the roots. Place them in an area that receives bright indirect light.
Water the cuttings sparingly, just enough to keep the soil damp but not wet. Depending on the variety and the growing conditions, new growth can take several weeks or months.
Your cuttings should not be disturbed at this point because this is the time when they are growing roots. Messing with the plant before the roots are strong enough can dislodge the plant and hamper its growth. Continue caring for them until it begins to sprout leaves; at this point, you can gradually increase both watering and sun exposure until it’s that of normal care.
For division, it takes a bit more work. This is because you need to carefully consider the parts of the plant that need to be taken out and divided. To do this, you have to carefully lift out the plant without damaging its roots.
Now, look at the plant and decide which parts need to be divided. Try to divide the bigger parts that have stem growths and roots. Separate the roots and plant parts gently. If it’s difficult to separate them due to tangled roots, use a clean and sterile knife to make a clean cut and split the plant.
Place each divided section into its own container, and fill the pot with loose well-draining soil. Keep them in an area that receives bright indirect light, and water them sparingly.
Similar to propagating dragon fruit plants by cutting, you should see them start to put forth new growth after a few weeks or months. In the meantime, care for them regularly.
Encouraging Fruit Flowering and Fruiting
It takes years for dragon fruit plants to mature, flower, and bear fruit. During this time, you must make sure that the growing conditions are just right so that they can stimulate your plant to produce flowers and fruits.
To help you out, we’ve listed some varieties that are suitable for indoors, as well as the time it takes for them to flower or fruit:
is the most common variety of dragon fruit. It’s also well-suited for indoor gardening because it’s easier to manage and has more compact growth and form than other varieties. This variety can start to produce very fragrant flowers and subtly sweet fruits within one to two years of planting.
This variety has a darker, almost maroon-colored exterior. It’s smaller than Hylocereus undatus but produces fruits within one to two years of planting that are slightly sweeter. The flowers are fragrant but less so than Hylocereus undatus.
This type has yellow skin and white flesh, making it more known as the yellow dragon fruit. It’s a bit more challenging to grow than the previous two varieties and can produce fruits within two to three years of planting. The flowers are beautiful but unscented.
This one has a red fruit exterior with sweet, white flesh that has a distinctly tropical flavor. It can take two to three years for this variety to produce fruits. It is known to produce fragrant flowers as well.
Most dragon fruit plants are self-fertile, meaning they don’t need insect, animal, or human intervention to produce fruits. Some cultivars benefit from cross-pollination, which can result in better fruit set, yield, and quality. Also, cross-pollination helps increase genetic diversity and produce plants that are stronger, healthier, and with better fruit quality.
If you want to cross-pollinate your dragon fruit plants indoors, you can do this by hand when the flowers are in bloom. However, you should know that the flowers tend to bloom only at night to attract nocturnal pollinators, such as moths and other insects.
To imitate them, use a brush or several cotton swabs to transfer pollen from one flower to another. This will help your dragon fruit plants produce fruits that are more genetically diverse from the parent plants.
Growing Dragon Fruit Indoors
Before you go ahead and start planting, we have even more tips for you to make sure that your dragon fruit growing experience is smooth and easy. Here’s a quick look at them:
- Ensure that your dragon fruit plant has plenty of good air circulation to prevent fungal growth.
- You can feed your dragon fruit plant once a month with a low-nitrogen fertilizer.
- Prune your plant every once in a while to promote balance and improve air circulation.
- Inspect your plant for pests, and treat them accordingly if you spot any.
- You can use a climbing pole, trellis, or stake to help support the weight of a tall dragon fruit.
With these tips, your dragon fruit plant might grow faster than you anticipated. And when they start to flower, - don’t forget to enjoy the sight and smell of these nocturnal blooms!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my dragon fruit plant is getting enough light?
There are several signs that indicate your dragon fruit plant is not getting enough light. One is that it starts to have long thin stems and small leaves, making the whole plant look quite leggy. Another is that it rarely produces flowers or fruits. If any, they tend to be small and undersized. If you suspect your plant is not getting enough light, move it to where it receives more light, or consider adding supplemental plant grow lights.
How do I know if my dragon fruit plant needs to be repotted?
Typically, they need to be repotted every two to three years. Some signs you need to watch out for are wilting or drooping leaves, as well as slowed-down growth. These signs indicate that your plant is potentially root-bound and needs to be repotted in a larger container.
How long do dragon fruit plants live?
When grown in ideal conditions, dragon fruit plants can live for up to 20 to 30 years. However, they can become more susceptible to pests and diseases as they age. You’ll need to monitor them more regularly when they reach this point.