“Pitahaya” or well-known as “Dragon Fruit” is a fruit of several cactus species.
These fruits are commonly known as “dragon fruit” as in the Chinese huǒ lóng guǒ, “fire dragon fruit”, and lóng zhū guǒ, “dragon pearl fruit”. The Vietnamese thanh long meaning “green dragon”, the Malay buah naga, the Lao mark mang gohn, and the Thai kaeo mangkon or “dragon crystal”. Other vernacular names are strawberry pear or nanettika fruit.
Currently, they are also cultivated in East Asia countries such as Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia.They are also found in Okinawa, Hawaii, northern Australia, southern China and in Cyprus.
The fruit was probably introduced by Europeans who brought it from the New World. In the case of Taiwan, the fruit was brought in by the Dutch.
Sweet Dragon Fruit have a creamy pulp and a delicate aroma. It is also grown as an Ornamental plant, used in gardens as a flowering vine and a house plant indoors.
After thorough cleaning of the seeds from the pulp of the fruit, the seeds may be stored when dried. Ideally, the fruit must be unblemished and overripe. Seeds grow well in a compost or potting soil mix – even as a potted indoor plant. Dragon Fruit cacti usually germinate between 11 and 14 days after shallow planting. As they are cacti, over-watering is a concern for home growers. As their growth continues, these climbing plants will find something to climb on, which can involve putting aerial roots down from the branches in addition to the basal roots. Once the plant reaches a mature 10 pounds in weight, the plant may flower.
Dragon Fruit flowers bloom overnight and usually wilt by the morning. They rely on nocturnal pollinators such as bats or moths for fertilization. Self-fertilization will not produce fruit in some species, and while cross-breeding has resulted in several “Self-Fertile” varieties, cross-pollinating with a second plant species generally increases fruit set and quality. This limits the capability of home growers to produce the fruit. However, the plants can flower between three and six times in a year depending on growing conditions. Like other cacti, if a healthy piece of the stem is broken off, it may take root in soil and become its own plant.
The plants can handle temperatures up to 40 °C (104 °F) and very short periods of frost, but will not survive long exposure to freezing temperatures.