A Highly recommended system is to plant the cured cuttings in pots, and let them develop a good root system for 4-6 months. Then plant them in 15 gal pots or in the field. Select a partially shaded area sheltered from wind and frost. Dragon Fruit respond very well to additions of organic matter. Irrigate before planting if it has not rained. Carefully remove the vines from the pots so the root ball stays intact without crumbling. Keep the soil at a good moisture level but do not over water.
Unlike desert cacti, Dragon Fruit plants are rain forest cacti and need regular watering during the dry season. Watering once per week during hot weather is usually sufficient. During winter or rain, less frequent or no irrigation will be necessary.
Excessive soil moisture will result in development of bacterial and fungous diseases. Drought periods without supplemental irrigation will result in poor production. However, some dry period is required for abundant bloom induction.
Dragon Fruit plants are adapted to a wide range of soils provided they are well drained. As with other fruit crops, they may show minor element deficiencies in poor or high pH soils. Pitayas thrive in soils high in organic matter or where manure is added. A commercial cactus mix with some wood shavings or compost mixed in, works well. The potting mixture that the Elk Creek Ranch owners in Fallbrook, California use, is made up of:
Approx. 1/2 part course sand
1/4 part peat moss
1/8 part compost or rotted manure with wood chips
1/8 part PerliteMix everything thoroughly and adjust ingredients
Wait about a month after planting or until vines begin to grow to begin fertilizing. In mid April use a Bud and Bloom booster like Kellogg’s Organic (3-7-4) ertilizer, scratched in around each plant. Apply some manure or compost at each plant, twice per year. Since the Pitahayas are a relative new crop in our area and there has only been limited local research about fertilization or other practices, use the suggested amounts as guidelines and adapt them to your own conditions. Some growers also add agricultural gypsum to their soil mix.