Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is a tropical fruit with a unique appearance that has become popular recently. It tastes sweet and has many health benefits. Although native to Central and South America. This fruit is now grown worldwide, especially in Asia.
One of the most fascinating things about dragon fruit is the process by which it flowers. Dragon fruit flowers are among the largest and most beautiful in the world, but they are also short-lived and require special care. Understanding the stages of dragon fruit flower development is essential for anyone who wants to grow this fruit successfully.
This guide is about the dragon fruit plant, how it grows, makes flowers and fruits, and how to take care of it. You will learn:
- How the plant grows from a seed or a cutting and makes flowers and fruits.
- How the plant produces buds and flowers, and when and how they open and close.
- How things like temperature, humidity, light, water, nutrients, and pruning can affect the flowers and fruits.
- How to help the flowers get pollen by using bats and moths or by doing it by hand.
- How the flower changes into a fruit, and how the fruit grows and ripens.
- How to pick, store, and eat the fruit.
- Knowing the flower stages can help you with the plant and the fruit.
Also, provide tips and best practices for maintaining healthy flowers of your dragon fruit.
Life Cycle of Dragon Fruit Plant
The dragon fruit plant is a type of cactus belonging to the Hylocereus genus. Several species and varieties of dragon fruit, but the most common ones are:
- Hylocereus undatus (red-skinned white-fleshed).
- Hylocereus costaricensis (red-skinned red-fleshed).
- Hylocereus megalanthus (yellow-skinned white-fleshed).
The dragon fruit plant has a long and complex life cycle divided into four main stages: seedling, vegetative, reproductive, and dormant. The seedling stage lasts about six months, during which the plant develops roots, stems, and leaves.
The vegetative stage lasts about two to three years, and the plant grows and branches out. The reproductive stage lasts four to six months, during which the plant produces flowers and fruits. The dormant stage lasts about two to three months, during which the plant rests and prepares for the next cycle.
The flowering stage is the most critical in the life cycle of the dragon fruit plant, as it determines the quantity and quality of the fruits. Therefore, it is essential to understand the flowering process and the factors that affect it.
Dragon Fruit Flowering Process
Dragon fruit flowers are amazing. They have many steps and factors. The plant makes flowers once a year. It depends on the weather and the type. The flowers grow on the ends of the branches. They come from tiny buds near the spines on the stems.
The flowers open at night and close in the morning and last for one night only. They are huge, smell nice, and attract insects and animals that pollinate them.
Many things affect the flowers, For example, temperature, humidity, light, water, nutrients, and pruning. These things change when, how long, and how often the flowers bloom. They also change how many and how large the flowers are.
The plant needs a warm and wet place to flower well. It requires 20°C to 30°C and 50% to 80% humidity. Flowers also need short days and long nights, with 12 hours of darkness. The plant needs enough water and nutrients, like phosphorus and potassium, to grow and develop flowers. The plant likes pruning, which makes it grow more and flower more.
Stages of Dragon Fruit Flower
The dragon fruit flower goes through three main stages: bud, bloom, and pollination. Each stage has its own characteristics and significance for the fruit development.
The dragon fruit flower goes through different stages of development. The first stage is called the bud stage, which lasts about two to three weeks. During this time, the flower buds grow and become conical. They are surrounded by green bracts that protect them from harm.
This stage is crucial because it determines the number and size of the fruits that the plant will produce. If the plant produces more buds, it will produce more fruits, but each fruit may be smaller. If the plant produces fewer buds, it will produce fewer fruits, but each fruit may be larger. Therefore, it’s important to balance the number and size of the buds to achieve the desired yield and quality of the fruits.
The buds are sensitive to environmental changes and may fall off if the conditions are unfavorable. Protecting the flowers from harm during this stage is important to ensure the best possible fruit production.
The blooming stage of dragon fruit flowers lasts for only one night. The flower buds open during this stage and reveal their stunning petals, stamens, and pistils.
The corolla has a star shape, and its petals come in white, pink, or yellow, depending on the variety. They surround the central reproductive organs.
The stamens are the male parts of the flower, consisting of long filaments that bear yellow anthers that contain pollen. The pistil is the female part of the flower, consisting of a long style that ends with a green stigma that receives pollen.
The blooming stage of the dragon fruit flower development is important. This is the only time when the flower can be pollinated and produce fruits. This stage is both spectacular and crucial.
The flowers open only at night between 10 pm and 12 am, and they close by dawn, usually between 4 am and 6 am. The flowers emit a sweet fragrance that attracts pollinators, such as bats, moths, and bees, that transfer pollen from the anthers to the stigma. They are also self-compatible, meaning their own pollen can pollinate them. But they are not self-pollinating, meaning they need an external agent to move the pollen.
The pollination stage is the third and final stage of the dragon fruit flower development, lasting about two to three days. During this stage, the pollen grains germinate on the stigma and grow tubes that penetrate the style and reach the ovary.
The ovary contains many ovules, each containing an egg cell. The pollen tubes deliver the sperm cells to the egg cells and fertilize them, forming zygotes. The zygotes then develop into seeds, and the ovary becomes a fruit.
The dragon fruit flowers need to get pollen to make fruits. Pollen is the yellow dust that comes from the middle of the flower. The more flowers that get pollen, the more fruits they make. But the fruits can be different depending on where the pollen comes from.
The fruits that get pollen from the same flower or the same plant are not good. They are small, not sweet, and have few seeds. The fruits that get pollen from different flowers or different plants are better. They are large, sweet, and have many seeds.
Factors Influencing Flower Development
The dragon fruit flowers grow because of many things. Some of them are:
- The weather: The flowers like warm, wet, and dark weather. They don’t like cold, dry, or bright weather.
- The food: The flowers need food from the soil and the fertilizer. They need balanced fertilizers. They can only grow well if they get enough or get enough food.
- Pruning: Cutting removes terrible parts of the plant and makes the plant look better. Cutting also helps the flowers get more water and food.
How to Tell If Your Dragon Fruit Flower is Healthy?
You can check if your dragon fruit flower is healthy by looking at these things:
- The buds should be green and robust, not brown or soft. They should also be free of bugs and diseases and spread out on the branches.
- The flowers: They should be open and large, with a white, pink, or yellow color and a star shape. They should also smell good and have all the necessary parts to make seeds.
- Pollination is when the pollen moves from the male part of the flower to the female part. It should happen quickly and well, with a lot of pollen and all kinds of pollinators. It should also make a lot of seeds inside the flower.
Your dragon fruit flower needs pollen to make fruit. Pollen is the yellow dust that comes from the male part of the flower. It has to get to the female part of the flower. It is called pollination
There are two ways to pollinate your dragon fruit flower: natural and artificial.
Natural pollination happens without humans getting involved. It relies on natural pollinators such as bees, moths, and bats, which visit flowers at night and move pollen from the anthers to the stigma. This kind of pollination is easy, low-cost, and eco-friendly.
However, it’s not always predictable or effective factors like weather, location, and competition. Sometimes, natural pollination may not happen or be enough.
Artificial pollination is the pollination that occurs artificially, with human intervention or assistance. It involves:
- The manual collection and transfer of the pollen from the anthers to the stigma.
- Using tools such as brushes.
- Cotton swabs.
This pollination has some advantages, such as being controllable, reliable, and efficient. But it also has some disadvantages, such as being labor-intensive, time-consuming, and costly.
Artificial pollination may be necessary or preferred due to factors such as lack of natural pollinators, low quality of natural pollination, or desire for improved yield and quality.
How Your Dragon Fruit Become a Fruit?
This is how your dragon fruit flower turns into a fruit:
- The flower changes into a fruit: After it gets the pollen and makes the seeds, it dies and falls off. The part that is left behind is the fruit. It grows more extensive in a few days. It has a thick skin with pulp and seeds inside. The fruit can be red, yellow, or purple, with scales or spines on the skin. This is the first step of the fruit.
- What makes the fruit good: Many things can make the fruit better or worse, like how hot, wet, bright, dry, or rich the place is. These things change the fruit’s size, shape, color, texture, taste, sweetness, and seeds. The fruit likes the same things as the flower, but it may differ for different kinds of fruit.
- When the fruit is ready: You can pick and eat the fruit 30 to 50 days after the flower gets the pollen. When you tap, you can tell if the fruit is ripe by looking at its size, color, hardness, smell, and sound.
How to Keep Your Dragon Fruit Flowers Healthy and Happy?
Sometimes dragon fruit flowers can have trouble. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:
- Pests: Some bugs like to eat or hurt the flower parts. This can make the fruit terrible or less. You can use good bugs like ladybugs, lacewings, and wasps to chase away the nasty bugs. Or, you can spray soap or oil on the flower parts with bugs.
- Diseases: The flower parts can sometimes get sick from fungus or bacteria. They can turn yellow, brown, soft, or dry. The sickness can also spread to the fruit and the stem. You can cut off and throw away the sick parts of the flower. Don’t water too much or plant too many flowers together. Use medicine on the sick parts.
- Pollen: Pollen is the yellow dust that helps the flowers make fruit. The flowers need pollen from other flowers to produce fruit. But the flowers only open at night for a short time. They need bats or moths to bring the pollen. There might not be enough fruit if there are not enough bats or moths. You can plant different kinds of dragon fruit flowers near each other. Make an excellent place for bats and moths to live. You can also use a brush or cotton to move the pollen from one flower to another.
Harvesting Dragon Fruit
Harvesting the dragon fruit is the last and fun step of growing it, and it means picking and storing the fruit. The harvesting of the dragon fruit has these parts:
- The best time for harvesting: Pick the fruit when it is ripe and ready to eat or sell. You can tell by looking at its size, color, firmness, smell, and sound. You can also count the days from pollination or use a tool to measure sugar content.
- How to pick the fruit: Use clean and sharp tools like knives or scissors to cut the fruit from the branch with a short stem. Wear gloves and clothes to protect yourself. Put the fruit in clean, airy containers like baskets or crates without pushing or squashing.
- How to store and transport the fruit: If you want to keep your fruit fresh and safe to eat or sell, you need to store and transport it well. You need to keep it cool and dry, away from sun and heat, at 10°C and 15°C, and a humidity level between 85% and 90%. Don’t let it touch fruits like bananas or apples that make gas. Use suitable packaging and label the fruit with its type, place, and date.
Benefits of Understanding Flower Stages
Understanding the flower stages of the dragon fruit is good for anyone who wants to grow this fruit for fun or money. Some of the good things about understanding flower stages are:
- Making more and better fruit: Understanding flower stages can make more and better dragon fruit. One can check and fix any problems by changing things like weather, food, and cutting, as well as making the flower get pollinated and fertilized.
- Learning more and doing better: Understanding the various stages of dragon fruit’s growth can help you better care for the plant and pick and store the fruit.
- Having more fun and interest: Knowing the stages of the dragon fruit flower can make growers have more fun and interest. It can help one like the flower’s look, smell, and specialness and the unique process that makes the fruit.
How Do We Maintain Healthy Flowers For Dragon Fruit Cultivation?
You must take good care of the flowers to grow dragon fruit well. You can do this by:
- Watering them enough: Give them water in the morning or evening when it is not too hot. Water them gently and evenly so they don’t hurt or fall off.
- Fertilizing them right: Give them food that has all the nutrients they need, like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Use organic fertilizers if you can. Give them food before they bloom so they aren’t disturbed.
- Pruning them carefully: Cut off the parts of the plant that are bad or not needed, like dead or sick branches, leaves, or flowers. This will help the plant grow more and better flowers. Use sharp and clean tools, like scissors or knives, to avoid infection or injury. Pruning them before blooming so they aren’t affected.
- Protecting them from harm: Keep the flowers safe from bugs and diseases that can make them sick or die. Some bad things that can attack the flowers are mealybugs, scale insects, mites, caterpillars, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. You can use different ways to stop them, like traps, nets, predators, parasites, or pesticides. Be careful and responsible when you use these methods so you don’t harm the plant, the environment, or the people.
Dragon fruit is a fruit that grows in warm places. It looks nice and tastes good. It also has a special way of making flowers and fruits.
If you want to grow dragon fruit, you need to know how the flowers work. This will help you take care of them and get more fruits.
You can also learn more about the dragon fruit plant and how amazing it is. You can also enjoy seeing the beautiful flowers and picking the fruits.
I am Gaushoul Agam
𝐂𝐨-𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 & 𝐂𝐄𝐎
I am an experienced Horticulture Officer in the Department of Agricultural Extension in Bangladesh. I am committed to improving agriculture and farming.
I created ToAgriculture to address global food safety concerns. These concerns are caused by a growing population, diminishing farmland, and the impact of climate change on agriculture. I assist readers in learning modern farming techniques.
I also help them control pests and diseases. Additionally, I guide managing agriculture sustainably. All of this is aimed at creating a better and more successful future in farming.
I have experience in field crops and horticulture crops. I know about fruit and vegetable farming, managing pests and diseases, irrigation, and grafting. Come with me as I share my knowledge and experiences to help you create a better future.