Pitahaya or dragon fruit (wavy guillocereus) is a cactus grown in the subtropical zone, and in natural conditions it grows in moist deciduous forests. Pitahaya is valued for its showy flowers and fleshy edible fruits. This cactus has a fast growth rate, and its succulent stems, when organizing a system of supports, can grow up to 6 meters in length. Because of this, in nature, pitahaya, trailing along the trunks of trees, reaches the upper lighted levels of the forest.
Pitahaya can be propagated by cuttings, seeds, as well as grafting. Pitahaya is fairly easy to grow at home using greenhouses in pots or greenhouses. These cacti, subject to the required conditions, actively grow, bloom and bear fruit at home. For the cultivation of pitahaya alone for decorative purposes, it is better to use the seed method of propagation, especially being, perhaps, the most affordable. Of course, if possible, you can use the brought stalk of pitahaya, which is able to quickly take root.
Pitahai seeds can be purchased at garden stores, but much better germination capacity will have fresh seeds independently obtained from dragon fruit. You need to take a small part of the pulp from the middle of the fruit and, placing it in gauze, stretch your hands and rinse the gel-like pulp under running water. Purified pitahaya seeds do not need drying, they are immediately ready for planting at home.
It is better to use pots for seedlings with large drainage holes, or a solid flat tray of medium depth as containers for sprouting home pitahaya. The soil for germination should be a mixture in equal parts of peat, sand, perlite or vermiculite. The seeds of the dragon fruit are sown evenly over the entire surface of the soil, sprinkled on top of a minimum layer of the mixture, sufficient only to cover the seeds.
Watering of planted seeds should be done carefully using a spray bottle and a small amount of water. When drying the surface of the soil watering must be repeated. For the organization of a wet microclimate, the container should be covered with transparent polyethylene, but at the same time it should be ventilated twice a day. The temperature of the air during the germination of Pitahaya is desirable to maintain in the range of 22-25 degrees Celsius.
Fresh pitahai seeds should germinate within 2–3 weeks. When the first sprouts appear, the shelter must be removed, and the pots placed in a well-lit place by the window, but not under direct sunlight. If weather conditions allow, to grow the homemade pitahaya can be moved to the open air outdoors in partial shade.
Cultivation conditions at home.
Grown up cactus can be transplanted into separate pots of small volume. And with the growth of pitahaya it needs to be transplanted into a larger dwelling. As a soil, use a mixture for cacti, or floral soil with the addition of 1/3 of the sand. An adult Gilotsereus is able to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight you can give him. Therefore, boldly allocate for the cultivation of pitahaya at home the southernmost window.
Pitahaya can safely endure a decrease in air temperature to 0 degrees Celsius, so it can be left to hibernate on a warmed balcony, along with other cacti and subtropical trees. In the summer months, the optimum air temperature for home-grown pitahaya is considered to be up to 27 degrees Celsius.
Like other dragon cacti, the fruit easily tolerates droughts and practically does not need watering during the cold winter months. The overflow is critical with further stagnation of water and soil oxidation. In this case, in order to save pitahaya it will be necessary to transplant with complete replacement of the soil and removal of rotten roots. The best way to irrigate is to use a small amount of water, enough to soak the soil in the pot by at least half. Watering should be carried out when drying two upper centimeters of soil. About once a week.
With enough nutrients, moisture, and lighting, Pitahaya even at home is growing at a rapid pace and over time takes up a lot of space. In artificial conditions of growing dragons, a fruit needs vertical garter of its long stalks. In addition, you can carry out aggressive pruning to create the desired shape of the cactus, the plant does not harm it.
In favorable conditions, pitahaya grown from seed at home will be able to please you with huge fragrant flowers in a few months, but they bloom only one night. And with successful pollination, the formation of the ovaries of future dragon fruits is quite realistic. Pitahaya is unpretentious in care, so the absolute majority of attempts to grow these cacti from seeds are successful. If you have access to the fruits of Pitahay, you will certainly try your hand at growing this spectacular fruit cactus.
What it is?
“Dragon Fruit” is from South and Central America, although today it is cultivated in many Asian countries, for example, in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia and others. In addition, in Israel, as well as Australia and Armenia, there are large farms specializing in the cultivation of pitahaya. The plants on which these exotic fruits grow are referred to as lianoid cacti, their characteristic feature being elongated lanceolate stems and spines along the edges. Flowering plants can be seen only in the dark, and this process is accompanied by the release of rich pleasant aroma and blooming of rather large flowers.
After 1-1.5 months after flowering on the stems, you can see small bumps, which after another month are transformed into full-fledged fruits, suitable for human consumption. The mass of each fruit is 500-700 g, and in some cases it reaches a kilogram. It is quite possible to harvest up to 6 harvests per year, and the total harvest of fruits from a hectare reaches 30 tons.
The fruits have an elongated shape, covered with scales, which at the ends have a characteristic lime shade. There are a lot of small seeds inside the fruit, which are practically not felt when chewing. There are several varieties of pitahaya, which differ in shade of pulp, as well as in taste and total number of scales. Here are just some of them:
- red has a scarlet skin and milky-white flesh, the taste is grassy, unleavened,
- Costa Rican is characterized by red color and skin and flesh,
- Yellow has a milk flesh with scarlet skin, this variety is considered the most delicious and fragrant.
The dragon eye possesses a large amount of nutrients, vitamins, micro- and macronutrients, due to which its use helps to improve the functioning of all internal organs of the person, strengthen the immune system and increase resistance to viral and bacterial infections. The concentration of vitamins B and C, as well as iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium, is especially high in the product. It is these substances that affect the functioning of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, as well as the work of the heart and blood vessels.
With all this, the product can be safely attributed to the diet, because its caloric content is small - 100 g of fruit contains only 50 kcal, while up to 90 g is water, the share of proteins is about 1 g, fat 0.1-0.5 g, and carbohydrates up to 10 g. The seeds of fruits contain high concentrations of tannin - substances with pronounced antimicrobial properties, therefore the fruits are distinguished by anti-inflammatory action. In addition, in pitaya quite a lot of fiber, which helps to improve digestion and the removal of harmful toxins and toxins from the body.
However, like any other exotic product, pitahaya has a number of contraindications for inclusion in the diet. Sometimes excessive consumption of this product causes bloating, increased flatulence and heartburn. There are even cases when the dragon fruit caused Quincke’s edema, therefore at the very first ingestion it is worth being restrained and first try the product in small quantities. Making sure there is no adverse reaction, you can increase the dosage.
The product is not recommended for people with allergies and asthma.as well as dermatitis, urticaria and nonspecific colitis. When gastritis and ulcers in the acute stage is also better to refrain from taking. Pediatricians do not recommend giving such a fruit to children under 10 years old, as their digestive and immune systems are still underdeveloped and the risk of an allergic reaction is high. Accordingly, it is not necessary to lean on the fruits of lactating women, since the components of the pitahaya can be ingested into the child’s body along with the mother’s milk.
Keep in mind that even in the absence of side effects should not eat more than 5 berries a day, otherwise you risk to get diarrhea.
You can grow a dragon at home, but you need to know a few important nuances. It should be understood that this plant is not particularly sensitive and demanding to the light regime and can successfully grow and develop even with the most minimal natural insolation per day. But still the plant needs light, otherwise you may not wait for fruiting. Therefore, you should not grow cactus in the darkened corridors, which are illuminated only by light bulbs, and in summer it is worth taking the dragon fruit to the street.
When deciding on the cultivation of pitahaya, try to assess in advance the possibilities of your premises. - it is known that under favorable conditions the plant reaches 10 m in height, with the uppermost shoots bending over long vines that twist and need additional supports. If the dragon eye is grown at home, then it begins to bear fruit in the seventh year, and the mass of the plant itself at this point is at least 4 kg. In order for this exotic plant to be able to flowers, it should be artificially illuminated so that the total duration of the light period is 12 hours a day.
How to grow at home?
Dragonfruits are grown from seeds, in order to achieve a greater effect, it is necessary to use freshly harvested seeds, although in some cases, dried specimens may maintain their high germination capacity. But to get the seed, will have to try. To begin with, remove the pulp completely from the fruit and pour water for three to four hours to soften the product thoroughly. After that, the resulting gruel must be filtered through the smallest sieve and rinse with cool running water. Seeds that remain will need to be dried at room temperature for a day, after which they can be used for planting.
Keep in mind that the seeds must be completely separated from the pulp; otherwise, after the sprouting of the sprouts, the processes of decay begin, which are of a rapid nature, therefore the plant dies, not even having time to develop properly. The process of planting fruit step by step is as follows:
- for planting should purchase a special ground intended for cacti,
- it is necessary to lay an expanded clay on the bottom of the pot that will perform drainage functions,
- the ground should be pretreated with fungicidal solutions that will protect the plant from the appearance of fungi,
- the processed land is poured into a container and lightly tamped down,
- seeds are buried by 1 cm, and then moistened, preferably by drip method,
- Then you should put a film or glass on top of the pot - this is necessary for the formation of greenhouse conditions.
Keep in mind that the soil should not be made up on its own, since the dragon fruit needs strict compliance with the proportions of the soil components, otherwise the pitahaya simply does not grow.
A week after planting, the cactus germinates, and a month later the very first needles appear on the young plant. At this point, the cactus can be transplanted into a larger container and gradually begin to train the seedlings to room temperatures, removing the polyethylene or glass shelter for a while.
The young plant visually looks like a trihedron with a large number of small needles. Like any other cactus, southern pitahaya does not require any complicated care, however, attention should still be paid to the plant if you want to get juicy fruits. Watering must necessarily be present, irrigation is carried out every day from March to September so that the topsoil is always moist. In principle, this plant can survive a prolonged drought, however, its growth at the same time stops.
At the same time, do not overdo it - if watering is excessive, the roots will rot.
To get the fruit, flowers must be pollinated. In their natural environment, insects take on these tasks; at home, you can use a soft nap brush. At the same time in the house should be at least 2 cactus - this will allow for cross-pollination. In the spring, dragon requires fertilizing, usually for fertilizing the land, every second irrigation is replaced with a special preparation - Kemira-Lux solution, which is diluted in water at a ratio of 2 g per 1 liter. It is possible and not to feed the plant, but in this case it will develop very slowly.
Since mid-September, the plant needs to be prepared for wintering. To do this, watering is reduced to zero and lower the air temperature in the room. The cactus can easily tolerate lowering the heating level to zero degrees, but there should be no drafts.
As noted above, the dragon fruit is exactly related to the degree of illumination and is able to grow and bear fruit even in a dark room, but in order for photosynthesis to be more intense, and also to accelerate the beginning of fruiting, it is desirable to provide the plant with a minimum of 10 hours of illumination per day. If this is not possible, then you should additionally include artificial lighting, specifically designed to maintain the vital activity of plants.
The plant endures and drafts with the winds, so it can be placed on the balcony or veranda. At the same time, for flowering abundant and prolonged exposure to moving air masses is undesirable. The plant can grow and develop without moisture and watering, but it does not bloom. Therefore, during the flowering and fruiting period, it is better not to test the cactus for strength and to water it regularly, especially if the temperature in your region exceeds 35 degrees in the summer months.
In winter, the plant can be kept in the subfield, however, only if the temperature in it does not fall below zero. At the same time watering should be excluded, because excessive moisture in cold weather causes the development of fungal microorganisms and the appearance of mold. If you take the plant outside in the summer, it should be protected from birds, since the immature fruit attracts birds, and you risk losing your entire crop. The plant should be treated very carefully, because with any damage to the stems, the dragon fruit becomes most susceptible to fungi, which causes rot and spoilage of the entire plant.
That is why the plant and do not propagate shoots, although in natural conditions this option is possible.
Characteristics of pitahayi. What you need to know before landing
Pitaya is a cactus whose temper is different from other inhabitants of the dry and hot equatorial climate. The plant can grow normally even without an abundance of sun. True, he still needs light for fruiting. In the middle band, pitahaya is grown in large pots, bringing it out for summer in a shady garden. Characteristics of the dragon fruit:
Attention! Under room conditions, flowering and fruiting cactus occurs no earlier than 5-7 years of life. At this point, the plant reaches a mass of about 4 kg.
The lengthening of daylight is a flowering stimulus. Therefore, it is necessary to illuminate the culture in the dark. This practice was successfully introduced in Vietnam, where today pitahaya is grown on an industrial scale. Fruit ovaries appear on the cactus after 1-1.5 months. after the flowers wilt. But under favorable conditions, the plant will give you fruit up to 5-6 times per season.
Pitaya fruits are covered with large smooth growths-scales. Depending on the type of peel can be painted in a mixture of pink and salad colors. Cactus fruits oblong, in size do not exceed an apple. Under the peel they have white, red or dark-lilac pulp, dotted with small black stones. The average mass of ripe dragon fruit is 150-600 g.
Care for a young plant
Young pitahaya is a triangular stem, on which sockets of thin delicate needles grow. Cactus does not need complex care. It is enough to follow simple rules:
- From spring to September, water it regularly, keeping the top layer of soil (1 cm) constantly wet. But the plant will survive quite normally and drought. Excess water is also bad, and will certainly cause root decay.
- Почти все разновидности питахайи являются самоопыляемыми. В природе растению помогают насекомые, в помещении пыльцу вам придётся переносить самим. Возьмите ватку или мягкую кисть.
- Внесение удобрений для питайи имеет большую интенсивность в сравнении с другими кактусами. This is because the culture is growing very quickly. Gardeners recommend making a solution of Kemira-Lux type mixtures (2-3 g / 1 l) for each second irrigation.
Attention! Pitahaya is a cross-pollinated plant. This means that you will need at least two bushes to get a crop.
Problems in the process of growing pitahaya
In the summer, the plant can be taken out in a tub on a windless and not open sun area of land. However, be extremely careful in the process of growing in the open. Make sure that the cactus is not damaged by precipitation. Control the well-being of the bush after the move. In addition, unripe dragon fruits are often prey to birds.
In addition to seeds, pitaya can be grown by cutting. But this procedure is much more risky - an adult plant is sensitive to cutting shoots. Pitahaya is often the target of fungal pathogens. Because of them, there is rotting of the stem and brown circles appear on the fruit.
The plant with dragon fruits is a great basis for decorating the site. During flowering and fruiting, motley colors combine well with other design elements. The pitahaya cactus, despite its exoticism, is quite adapted to life in the conditions of the middle zone of the Russian Federation. A small amount of attention will allow your plant to bloom and set fruit.
Features of growing and care
Getting to the most important issue of this article, it is necessary to immediately say that it is possible to propagate this plant only by sowing seeds in the ground, all other methods do not give a pronounced result, and often only waste your time.
So, step by step we describe the process of landing:
- From the ripe fruit of the pitaya you need to get the seeds. To do this, the fruit must be properly kneaded and well filled with water. Then strain everything through cheesecloth and repeat this process a few more times, so that the seeds completely get rid of the remnants of the fruit.
- Then, in a pot with ground in advance for succulents and a drainage layer at the bottom with a finger, a hole is made with a depth of 1-1.5 centimeters.
- In the hole put a few seeds, preferably about 3-5 pieces at a time, but since they are too small, it will be more convenient to separate a piece of the size of a match head from the total mass.
- Next, the hole is filled up, the ground is watered with water so that it will soak only 2/3 of the entire layer of soil, the pot is covered with polyethylene or glass to create conditions similar to greenhouse.
- It is advisable to put the pot under the sun's rays, to provide a constant temperature not lower than + 23 ° С, to water the soil as it dries, but not more often than once every two days.
- Seven days later, the first triangular shoots of the cactus should appear. And in a month you will receive plants ready for transplanting to a permanent place.
As noted earlier, pitahaya is quite comfortable with lighting and can grow even in the very corner of the room, however, in order to intensify the processes of photosynthesis and speed up the onset of fruiting, it is recommended to put it closer to sunlight.
The plant does not suffer from drafts and wind, and therefore in warm weather, you can fearlessly leave it on the balcony or terrace.
This plant seamlessly tolerates the lack of irrigation, however, in the warm season, especially if you live in an area where the temperature exceeds +40 ° C, it is better not to overuse it, watering the plant as it dries out 1 cm.
In winter, pitaia can be kept in a cool room, as it can withstand temperatures as low as 0 ° C, and the main thing is not to fill it, since excessive moisture during cold weather is fraught with various fungal diseases. First you need to feed pitahaya quite often, as it is actively growing and can add up to 1 meter in height in the first year of its life. Best of all for an exotic plant will be suitable special fertilizers for cacti, which you can buy at any flower shop, for example, Kemira-Lux.
The only thing that needs to be considered is the amount of feeding. For normal development, this succulent will need 3-4 grams of dry fertilizer per 1 liter of water for every second watering.
Due to too rapid growth, it is sometimes impossible to bring the appearance of your cactus in order: its stems spread along the ground, fill a lot of space and look rather untidy. Therefore, to normalize the aesthetic component of the content of pitaya, it is recommended to fix the stems to a bamboo stick stuck in a pot.
The first signal that the plant is ready to form fruit is the appearance of flowers on it. But this process is quite slow, sometimes it can take up to 5-7 years.
However, the appearance of flowers does not guarantee you the availability of fruit in the future, as pitahaya is a cactus that requires cross-pollination, and therefore you will need at least two separate plants. Pollination is carried out using a soft brush or cotton swab. It is necessary to take a brush, gently move it with the tip in the flower of one plant, then move on to another and do the same manipulation.
The more often you will perform this manipulation and the more flowers will be involved in it, the higher the probability of successful emergence of fruits on your plants.
Contraindications to the use
Like any other exotic fruit, pitahaya should be eaten with great caution for the first time, since it is not known for certain what kind of unpleasant side effects can lead to its composition. For example, the development of flatulence, heartburn or a complete allergic reaction, up to Quincke's edema, is possible.
Therefore, do not rush, first eat a very small piece, wait 10-15 minutes, and only then eat up the rest.
It is undesirable to use this product by people who have a tendency to various diseases of allergic etiology, including to bronchial asthma, dermatitis, ulcerative colitis and urticaria. It is necessary to refrain from including pitayi in the menu for people who suffer from gastritis, enteritis or peptic ulcer and duodenal ulcer in the acute phase.
In no case can not give this fruit to children under the age of 10 years, because they have a very high risk of an allergic reaction. It is advisable to eat pitahaya to nursing mothers with caution, since the fruit's antigens can enter the child’s body through milk and provoke an allergic reaction. It is allowed to eat no more than 4-5 fruits per day, otherwise the likelihood of diarrhea increases.
So, we hope that, guided by this article, you will be able to grow for yourself an excellent pitahaya. Remember that no exotic fruits, even the most outlandish ones, are in fact no different in terms of growing and avoiding plants from our native and habitual hearts. And this means that having enough experience with strange and extraordinary plants, you will be able to gain experience, which later will serve very well in the country or in the garden. Good luck to you and your plants!
The benefits of pitahaya
Pitahoya is a valuable low-calorie fruit with a high content of beneficial substances. The pulp of an exotic fruit contains mainly water, carbohydrates and a small amount of polyunsaturated fats. In addition, it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins B1, B2, B3, PP, C and trace elements - phosphorus, iron, calcium and others.
Numerous studies have shown that the fruit has a positive effect on the cardiovascular and endorin systems. The fruit can be consumed by hypertensive patients and those suffering from diabetes mellitus - it reduces the level of glucose in the blood. Pulp of the fetus is easily absorbed by the body, so it can be used to alleviate the condition of intestinal disorders and abdominal distention. Good for people with poor eyesight.
How to grow pitahaya
The plant, bred in Mexico, is now successfully grown in such countries: Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Hawaii, Cyprus, Israel, and South China.
Interestingly, the pitahaya cactus grows and blooms only at night. The plant has beautiful white flowers, characteristic of cactus plants. Pitahaya can be grown not only as a fruiting tree, but also as an ornamental plant - it will perfectly decorate your garden and home with its exotic unusual beauty.
Pitahaya can be grown from seeds and cuttings - it grows quite well indoors in a pot or greenhouse. With all the rules of care cacti actively grow, bloom and bear fruit at home. The most affordable way to get a cactus plant home is growing from seed.
Preparation and sowing of seeds. Step-by-step instruction:
- Take seeds from a ripe fruit or bought in a specialty store.
- Take a piece of pulp with seeds, put it in gauze and rinse under running water.
- Peeled seeds can not be dried, and immediately planted in the soil.
- For the germination of seeds, take a large pot or flat tray with drainage holes. As the soil, take equal proportions of sand, peat, vermiculite, or perlite.
- Fill the tank with drainage layer and soil. Spread the seeds evenly over the soil surface. Sprinkle seeds with a small amount of soil to cover them.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap to create a wet microclimate. Keep the temperature + 22 + 25 degrees. Twice a day, lift the film to air the crops.
- Watering is carried out using a spray gun after the soil dries.
Within 2-3 weeks the seeds will germinate and the polyethylene cover will need to be removed. Move the pot to a well-lit place, but avoid direct sunlight. One month after sowing, the seeds can be transplanted into separate pots. Keep plants in a cool place regularly moistening the soil.
Like other cacti, pitahaya is picky and can grow in a corner of the apartment. From the beginning of spring to the end of summer, pitahaya needs regular watering, and in the autumn-winter period it is stopped. Waterlogging threatens to rotting roots. With short-term cold snaps, which the plant tolerates normally, it is not necessary to water the pitahaya.
During the warm period, the plants should be kept indoors with a temperature of +25 degrees. In winter, take out a pot of pitahaya in a room with an indicator of +17 degrees. Despite the fact that relatives of pitahaya grow in hot deserts in a dry and warm climate, it grows well in shaded places or rooms with diffused sunlight. If there is a possibility in warm summer, you can take the pots with plants into the garden under shady trees.
The fast-growing cactus requires frequent and regular fertilizing. During the period of active growth, from spring to autumn, Pitahaya is fed with fertilizer marked “for succulents”.
It is possible to wait for the flowering of the domesticated pitahaya in 5-7 years. Good and long illumination of the room will play an important role in the formation of flowers. In order to wait for the fruits of the home cactus, it is necessary to provide him with cross-pollination, therefore, there should be at least two pitahaya plants in the house.
Pollination is carried out using a soft brush or cotton swab. Pollination is carried out at night, when the flowers bloom. If the pollination was carried out successfully, in a month and a half or two months there will be ripe fruits.