Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Dragon in the garden?

Yes, please, but make it the harmless kind :-) 

The Pitaya cactus produces fruit looking like dragon eggs (or so I imagine them to look).
The fruits are a real treat! Attractive, large and egg-shaped, either red, pink or yellow, with distinguished dragon scales.

The Dragon Fruit is a vining cactus, its thick and heavy stems have thorns and aerial roots to cling to tree trunks or structures. I let mine simply grow along the fence in the light shade from the Crepe Myrtles, but it receives full sun during the winter months.

There are hundreds of named varieties available, with white or red flesh, with yellow, red or pinkish skin. I have only one plant, a self-pollinating variety, that much I remember, but the name is lost. When I ordered the cutting online it was more for the novelty of having a 'dragon' in the yard, thinking it won't survive, but to my surprise, it is surviving and thriving. 
It originates in hot tropical south America but is naturalized in tropical and subtropical zones worldwide and seems to be quite happy here in Florida.  

Flowering is triggered by the daily afternoon rains and hot summer weather.

The Flowers last only one night, but are stunning and worth setting your timer for so not to miss them.

There is a faint scent, but pollinating moths (and maybe bats) are being attracted by the huge, bright white flowers.

The Morning After look:

It takes about 5 weeks for the fruit to ripen.

not ripe yet

I pick the heavy fruit when it has an intense color and is a bit soft to the touch.

yep, a dragon egg!

It tastes delicious, sweet, a little bit like a pear, or a kiwi and the tiny black seeds give it some crunch. Simply cut in half and scoop it out with a spoon. I like it best when chilled.... thinking of chilling, the plant must be protected from a real freeze.

Here is another Cereus, or Queen of the Night, the Selenicereus grandiflorus, the true Queen of the Night (left is the Epiphyllum Oxypetalum for comparison). Comparing the flowers, I am certain the grandiflorus flowers are a bit larger than the Pitaya flowers, but all are gorgeous and worth traipsing through the gardens in the dark.

Queen of the Night cactus - Selenicereus grandiflorus


  1. sagenhaft ja und so große Früchte
    wie klein meine dagegen sind
    du kannst sehr stolz sein,

    1. Danke, ich kann nur hoffen dass der naechste Winter keinen Frost bringt. Ich weiss nicht wie ich diese grosse Kaktuspflanze schuetzen koennte.

  2. That is amazing! I tasted dragon fruit for the first time when I visited Taiwan a few years ago. I had no idea it grew on a vine or that it grows as close as Florida!

    1. South Florida for sure, I have to wait and see how I can protect it during a real freeze in Central FL. I know of gardeners growing this cactus in large containers to let it overwinter in the garage.