The dragon fruit or also known as Pitahaya is a fruit belonging to the Cactaceae family and native to America. More specifically, it is a succulent cactus with quite rustic characteristics. Its flowers are very beautiful but it lasts for a short time, the product of this flower is the fruit of this cactus. This strange fruit is undoubtedly the culprit of the popularity of the plant. With a very peculiar shape and bark, it is a food highly recommended by nutritionists for weight loss. In this article we will dedicate ourselves to studying everything about fertilizer for dragon fruit , how and when to apply it, what type of fertilizer to use, as well as some basic care.
Although it had its origins in America, the cultivation of dragon fruit has nowadays spread to almost all the latitudes of the world. This implies that there is a great variety of conditions between one or another dragon fruit, this variety of conditions means that not all plants must be cared for in the same way. Given this, I must clarify that everything seen here is general advice, it will be the responsibility of the reader to know how to correctly apply what has been learned here.
1. What do the three numbers mean on the label of a fertilizer?
If you’re just starting out in this gardening world and have never used fertilizers intensively, you’re probably wondering what those three numbers mean on any fertilizer package. Don’t worry, it’s something we’ve all asked ourselves at some point.
If you’ve ever stopped to compare between two or more different fertilizer bags, you may have noticed that each one features a different combination of these three numbers. Some are 10-10-10 others 20-10-15, and therefore an infinity of combinations. Let’s start by saying that these three numbers are known as the NPK values.
Don’t panic, understanding what NPK values are is very simple. They represent the value of the three nutrients that plants use. These are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and end in potassium (K).
Specifically, what the number represents is the percentage of each nutrient in the fertilizer bag. Let’s take an example so that you understand better. If the mix is 10-5-10 and the bag weighs 10 pounds, that’s 1 pound of the total is nitrogen, 0.50 pounds of phosphorous and 1 pound of potassium.
Simple right? Well now if we can start to get fully involved with the fertilization of your dragon fruit.
2. Feeding your dragon fruit
To grow a dragon fruit with extium, there are many aspects that must be taken into account, which begin with the correct choice of the place where we will plant it. It is not enough to feed this cactus correctly so that it grows healthy and strong, and at the same time produces a good amount of fruit.
Remember that to grow any type of plant you need enough time to dedicate some key care. That is why before fully entering the fertilization, we will see some key aspects for a correct cultivation of the dragon fruit, among them we will analyze the plantation, the ideal temperature, the irrigation, the soil, etc.
2.1 How to grow
We will not list these 8 points in order of priority, each one as important as the other. If you do any of them incorrectly, your plant will not develop in the best way.
2.1.1 Plantation and Spread
Among the possibilities you have to plant a pitahaya is to obtain the plant by seed or by cutting. Although both are equally valid, the second is a method that allows much faster development.
When selecting the cutting, take it from a stem that is at least two years old. Once cut, leave it in the shade for 5 days before transplanting.
After five days, you can plant it in a well-drained pot, on a sandy soil, watering as long as the soil is dry. Place the pot in a well-lit place. In about four months the plant will be ready to transplant.
As we have already noted, this cactus originates from America, more specifically in warm areas of South and Central America. That is why warm and sub-humid climates are good for its development. However, it can also adapt to dry climates.
The optimum temperature range can be defined between 16-25 ° C. It should also be noted that it is not capable of withstanding very low or very high temperature thresholds.
For a correct development of all the physiological processes of the dragon fruit, a good amount of light is good. Especially for a good budding and flowering.
Although it requires a lot of light, an excess can end up being harmful. The most suitable is a place with semi-shade, with 30% shade per day. Be aware that too much shade can affect production.
Like most cacti, it does not require abundant watering. These should be especially organized in the first two years after transplant, thus stimulating growth.
After the first two years, and with the plant already in full production, it should only be watered in times of flowering. If watered in earlier stages of drought, it may decrease flowering.
Since phitaya is a fast growing cactus, pruning regularly is useful to control this growth and stimulate better production.
Although explaining in detail everything related to pruning could take an entire article, it should be noted that there are three types of pruning. Formation pruning, which occurs in the early years. And from the third year, production and cleaning pruning continue.
2.1.6 Plagues and diseases
There are various pests and diseases that can attack dragon fruit, so it is good to maintain regular control of the plant, allowing it to be detected and treated in time. A delay in detecting any disease or pest can become a major problem.
At harvest time it is quite long, begins in early autumn and can last until late spring. The harvest should never be done before the correct ripening of the fruit.
In order for the fruit to have a good market value, it is important to be careful when cutting it, avoiding any damage. Any scar or blemish drops the price tremendously.
In general, and as it happens with many cacti, it is not very demanding with the type of soil, since it can grow in poor and stony soils.
For better development, it is good to look for sandy soils (with good drainage), rich in organic matter and a somewhat acidic pH (5.5-6.5). As we will see in the following sections, to further improve the development and production of dragon fruit, we can feed it with some fertilizers at different stages of its life.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
2.2 Organic fertilizer for dragon fruit plant
Although in order to better control nutrients, it is better to apply inorganic fertilizers, in which the exact proportions of nutrients are known, their use can be complemented with that of organic fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers like compost or manure have the advantage of releasing nutrients more slowly. Therefore, the combination with inorganics, whose release is faster, is a good option.
Below I will detail how to make a compost or rather a bio-organic fertilizer to grow your dragon fruit (the procedure can be quite complex):
- Step 1: Prepare it from the following proportions by weight; 40-60 household waste, 30-50 animal waste, 20-30 crop waste and 10-20 tea seed meal.
- Step 2: Add a complex microbial inoculant weighing 0.5-2.5% of all materials. The first fermentation takes place once a uniform mixing is carried out.
- Step 3: Add a community of microbes at a ratio of 0.2-0.5% of the total weight. I got the fertilizers after the second fermentation ends.
For more detailed information on how this bio-organic fertilizer will be carried out, visit this link.
2.3 Best fertilizer for dragon fruit
There is no great complexity when it comes to finding the fertilizer that best suits the needs of the phitaya. In any nursery you can find them.
We already saw at the beginning of the post what the three numbers mean in a fertilizer bag, so you’ll know what to look for when I tell you that a good fertilizer for your dragon fruit is an inorganic type 6-6-6 or 8-3 -9. As we will see in the following sections, the use of a 20-20-20 mix can also be useful on some occasions.
Well, we have already seen which are the most used, let’s now see how and when to apply them.
3. How and when to fertilize dragon fruit
We have already said that the combined use of organic and inorganic fertilizers is good, and we talk a little about each of them in detail. Now is the time to learn how and when to apply them correctly.
For this it is important to divide its application in the different stages of the life of this cactus, that is to say, in the first months after the transplant, in the youth of the plant and when the plant is somewhat old.
3.1 Newly transplanted plants
Once the transplant is done, and during the first 30 days, it is not good to apply any type of fertilizer. After those days, and once you start to notice the first spring buds, you can apply an 8-3-9 or 6-6-6 type fertilizer in a four ounce amount.
This fertilization should be done every 60 days, until the first days of autumn. Be sure to spread the fertilizer evenly. Start fertilizing a couple of inches from the stem, extending it 10-15 inches from the stem. After application make a good irrigation.
Additionally, approximately four pounds of organic fertilizer can be applied during the summer (specifically manure). Never overlap both fertilizations (organic and inorganic), try to have a month of difference between one and the other.
3.2 Young plants
Since as the plant grows, its nutrient needs increase proportionally, the amounts of fertilizers to be applied to plants older than two years should be higher.
Follow the same advice we saw in the previous point, just increase the amount. In the case of inorganic fertilizer application, go from 4 ounces to 5. And since the roots are further away, apply them at a greater distance (not less than 18 inches from the stem).
As for manure or compost, it is also good to add more quantity, going from 4 pounds to 6.
3.3 Fruit of the Old Dragon
With the dragon fruit of more than four years we will increase the fertilizer dose again. You’ll need to apply 8 to 12 ounces between spring and fall, making sure to make at least 4 applications like this during that period.
Then you should apply a little organic fertilizer twice, once in the spring and once in the summer. The dosage can be approximately 5lbs approximately.
3.4 Extra case: Dragon fruit for ornamental use
As we mentioned, the dragon fruit is a cactus that is more than resistant, being able to develop in quite adverse climates. The use of fertilizers above all seeks to make this plant one that produces fruit in quantity and quality.
Therefore, if you have a phitaya in your home that is not interested in reaping a large amount of its fruits, your fertilizer requirements are greatly reduced. At the same time, this will simplify maintenance tasks, such as pruning, as the plant developed less.
In case you don’t have a soil with a good amount of nutrients and want to stimulate development to a certain extent, you can perform two fertilizations per year. One in early spring and one after it has finished blooming. For this, you can use a soluble inorganic fertilizer of the 20-20-20 type. Once applied, it performs abundant watering.
4. Fertilizer for dragon fruit vídeo
Before finishing the article I leave you an excellent video of the sackboymahalo channel, I have no doubt that it will be more than good to see it since you will be able to see in a more graphic way everything you have learned so far. 😉
With this we finish the article, I hope there are no doubts about how and when you should carry out the fertilization of your dragon fruit.