Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dragon Fruit

The latest addition to our plant family here in Pompano Beach is a small 'Halley's Comet' Dragon Fruit, red pitaya. I just happened to be walking by a large home improvement store where they had a huge plant display outside the garden center.  Sticking up amidst the cacti were a handful of dragon fruit plants.  (The only reason I saw them is because I know what they look like since I have a white pitaya.)   It's a shame they were thrown in with the rest of the succulents & cacti as this is a great plant for backyard gardner's to have.  They are low maintenance, easy to grow & produce some of the most delicious healthy tropical fruit around, plus they are incredibly interesting looking & always a great conversation piece.
'Halley's Comet' variety of Red Dragon fruit
The plants are about 12-14 inches high
 in a 1 gallon pot
This is the tag that was on the red dragon fruit
only $6.99!?! What a deal!
Yes, I ended up purchasing it, I couldn't help it, lol
There are actually three single plants in the pot called cuttings.  The nursery will cut limbs off a large mother plant, get them to root then pot them up & put them for sale.  Pretty inexpensive & effective nursery tool of the trade.  So for $7.00 I bought three plants, what a "Boca bah-gin" lol!!!  So I could keep one & give the others to friends or I could keep the three together to make a stronger larger single vining plant.  Hmmmm decisions, decisions... ;)

The dragon fruit is actually part of the cactus family originally from South America, though Asian countries have really embraced this plant as their own.  This plant loves growing in hot & humid weather with well drained organic rich soil.  It is vining/climbing by nature so it needs room to grow and a support structure to grow on as they can reach 6-8 feet high & wide.  The dragon fruit is a self pollinating plant which basically means it does not need a pollinator source like bees, butterflies, moths, etc.  The starburst shaped sweet scented flowers open at night which at our house attracts the large luna moth as the pollinator.
This is my white fleshed dragon fruit
flower blooming on a rainy night
My white fleshed dragon fruit flowers showing their stuff
Dragon fruit flower just starting to close up
shop for the daytime
'Vietnamese Jaina' var. dragon fruit
This is a dragon fruit "tree" that's about 8 feet high
at it's highest point growing on a 6 foot high wood post
down at Pine Island Nursery in Miami.  One of South
Florida's best resource for tropical trees.
Once the dragon fruit flowers are pollinated they will then turn into the actual dragon fruit.  Pretty amazing right?!?  The fruit can be picked about 35-40 days after its been fruited on the vine.  They are ripe when the fruit is slightly soft like picking a ripe kiwi.  Once you pick the fruit from the vine it should be eaten within a few days to enjoy it's best flavor & texture.  When people ask me, "what does a dragon fruit taste like?", I can only say, everyone has a different flavor palate but many dragon fruit varieties have a combination of subtle flavors like melon, pear, apple & grape.  The texture is similar to a combination of a kiwi & a pear.  Dragon fruit are an unsuspected but excellent source of antioxidants and vitamin C.  If you are lucky enough to find dragon fruit at your local farmers market or fruit stand, pick one up & try it.  You just may like it "Sam I am"...heee heee Dr. Suess reference.  So go get "dragoned"!!  ;))

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