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RED DRAGON FRUIT - PITAYA, Hylocereus

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Kathy starts with ...
Im looking at buying the Red Dragon fruit today to grow it from a baby.

In small print the description says it requires cross polination im not sure what this means and what I have to do to grow this tree in my yard in Melbourne.

Please Help!
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kathy9
Melbourne, VIC
25th February 2013 9:25am
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Db says...
Daley's describe it as 'self-pollinating' -

http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/search.php?q=dragon+fruit

http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/plant/Dragon-Fruit.htm
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Db
Brisbane
25th February 2013 9:50am
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John Mc says...
I still like to, (I'm desperately searching for a better word here)fondle, the anthers inside the flowers to spread the pollen. They produce copious amounts which cover your hands making it very easy to move between flowers. Kind of therapeutic, I know how the bees feel.
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John Mc
Warnervale NSW
25th February 2013 12:17pm
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kathyy says...
Basically I am buying the Vietnam Dragon Fruit for the first time and have NO IDEA on what I need to do to keep it healthy and alive.

It says they self pollinate but I dont know what exactly it is I am suppose to do to make it bloom and fruit.

Do i plant it and let it grow by itself?
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25th February 2013 1:04pm
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amanda says...
Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with the sun requirements of the different coloured dragon fruit at all..?

Another grower finds the whites more "sensitive" to strong sun than the reds, for eg?
Has anyone else found this too?

I am about to plant out white, red, yellow and purple types - and I have lots of places to choose from..

Currently I am looking at spots that have shade in our hot summer afternoons..?

I grew a white one on the (very shady south side of our water tanks in Geraldton and it went gangbusters in that amount of shade..?
(very hot and dry summers there: semi arid - now I am in warm temperate)
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amanda19
Leschenault (150km south of Perth)
15th September 2013 2:30pm
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starling says...
Amanda,

I just finished my dragonfruit grove, and had a long conversation with the guy who owns tamborine dragonfruit farm about planting and such. He gave me the following tips:

Always plant at least two DIFFERENT varieties on any one trellis. This increases the amount of fruit you'll get, and for some reason, the fruit tend to be larger. You can have up to four plants on a trellis. So basically, if you had two, put a red one and a white one on the same trellis.

Secondly, they are very tough, and will take crazy heat. They can sunburn but this will not affect the health of the plant, it is just a cosmetic thing. They actually prefer a lot of sun, after all they are a cactus.They are actually a rainforest cactus though, and prefer humidity to direct heat from the sun. I bet they go berserk in well set-up greenhouses.

Thirdly, the way to kill them is by over watering. When you plant them, give them one cup of water each--that's it.After this, give them a very small watering once every month. The soil mixture you should plant them in is 50/50 sand and high quality potting mix. They HAVE to be planted on a mound--I have included a picture of what I did. I used hard plastic garden edging to hold the mound together after having dug half a foot or so into the soil beneath and having filled it with the mixture of sand/potting mix. all up, the plants themselves probably have about a foot and a half of clearance off the bottom.

Fourthly,they are susceptible to whatever was introduced to kill the pear cactus. However, if you find this on your dragons, you can just cut this out and the affected area will heal over.

When planting them, plant 3-4 inches deep. You have to make sure the end you plant has scabbed over; if the cutting is fresh, they will suck up too much water and drown themselves. You can tell if they are getting too much water if the flesh of is soft, or feels gelatinous. This is generally accompanied by spots of yellowing/ blackening. Be sure to mix a good amount of seasol in for the first water. If you let this solution run down the actual cacti themselves, this will coat both the total area of the flesh and channel down to coat the roots.

It is unlikely that they will fruit well if they are allowed to grow horizontally. They tend to start fruiting once they have extended over the cross beam of the trellis--once they have begun to weep over this.

The Guatemalan variety is the kind which is sold commercially--it is the one with the intense rose flavour.


Hope this help,
S
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15th September 2013 3:37pm
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Original Post was last edited: 15th September 2013 5:17pm
amanda says...
wow - that's heaps of info starling - thanks for taking the time :)

In that case - I think I have a near perfect spot...

We have a swimming pool that has a tall and long brick wall around half of it - in an L shape...

The bottom of the L faces due north and is very sheltered - the bed is raised..and 8m long by 2m wide - and in here will go the bananas, Asian sweet leaf and a Hawaiian gold passionfruit on the wall..

The other wall - 10m long runs North-South...with the East side facing the pool...

This should be an ideal wall for the dragon fruit...?

Lots of sun until late afternoon in the summer ....and max winter sun and a warm wall also...?

Very hard to tell in these pics - cos I have to pull all that crap out...but I am on the north side here and the right side of the pic is west..

And I can fill that walled bed with cacti mix maybe..?

(edit: I figure that the pool will add welcome humidity in our dry summers - and the paving should reflect a lot of warmth also...
And the cacti will naturally drop over and fall vertically when it reaches the top of the wall...?)
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amanda19
Leschenault (150km south of Perth)
15th September 2013 9:13pm
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Original Post was last edited: 15th September 2013 9:16pm
vlct says...
Once it reaches your desired hight. Prune where the old growth and new growth meet.
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vlct
glenelg
16th September 2013 6:32am
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starling says...
Amanda,

I would probably still make a T-Beam trellis and set this into the garden bed, otherwise your draongfruit vines will grow over the other side of the fence, it will be hard to train them to grow vertically on brick, and if it gets cold (frost, or just really cold) the freezing brick will surely damage them. You could plant them on the opposite side of the fence and have them spill over the wall into the pool area when they are fully grown--but again, you'd need to find a way to secure them to the brick wall--they need to be trained vertically.Fruit will sprout on the tips of new growth, not from the main shoot which runs upwards. I forgot to mention that they really, really don't like frost or freezing temps.

The first pic looks like the best spot to me, looks perfect. Here, you could even concrete the trellis straight into the bed--and its already raised really high and is getting a lot of light.

Trellis main beam should be about 8 feet or so long, depending on how deep that bed is. You're going to want to concrete it in the ground at least a couple of feet--the dragonfruit vines when full grown are actually pretty heavy, and because they tend to umbrella out, they catch the wind pretty hardcore which will put a lot of force on the beam. Mine cost about oh, I dunno, probably 30$ or so per trellis, because I had to buy the main beam.That price includes the quick set cement, I just used stones and bits of crap I had lying around as aggregate. I had some old cedar lying around and used this for the cross beams--my cross beams are about 4 feet or so long. The wider your main pole is, the better--so choose one with a decent width if you can. I got mine from bunnings and they are...well, a bit crap really. Timber supply place would have better options.

One thing I should mention is make sure you have some liquid nails handy when making the trellis (or a vice). I didn't have this and it was a huge palaver, cross beam kept on moving as I was trying to screw in the bolts to fix the cross beam to the main pole (you want bolts which are about 120mm long). These should be countersunk a little bit, about 10-20mm, depending on how thick both your main beam and cross beams are. Be aware that if you use soft pine, the nut you screw on the back of the bolt will eat into the wood, and will not fix in place firmly; if this happens, you will end up with a crossbeam that swivels, which is probably a bad thing. Best bet is to get a washer or two for the back nut.

Also don't be tempted to use a steel pole-dragonfruit hate this as it gets both way too hot and way too cold.

Cheers
s
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Original Post was last edited: 16th September 2013 7:02am
John Mc says...
I now use old tree trunks cut 4 feet off the ground. Like Starling said, DF vines get very, very heavy. One of my poles blew over and I couldn't lift it back up no matter how hard I tried. The vine would have weighed a ton. The support was a 4 x 4 hardwood bearer dug 3 feet in the ground, typically recommended as a standard measure for DF support. I don't use any cross-arms either, the vines will support each other as they multiply and fall over the top.
Saying all that, I don't prune mine as much as I probably should, they get very heavy, very quickly.
I mainly grow the Vietnam variety. It has large fruit(typically 1KG each)beautifully sweet and the vine is very vigorous.
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starling says...
Beautiful looking fruit John. The shape of the vine looks just like the Jacky lee cutting I just recieved (this isn't as spiny as the reds and purples I have). I wonder if it's the same or a variation of the Vietnamese?

Based on your experience with the wind toppling over the trellis I think I'm going to have to add supports to mine, must have been crushing to get a vine to that size only to have blown over.

Update: Those florida golds have not sprouted and at this point I don't think they will, I'm just going to send you the seeds. I have a couple of purple potato nodes coming you can have if you're interested, too.


S
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16th September 2013 9:12am
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Original Post was last edited: 16th September 2013 9:17am
amanda says...
Gee - just as well I asked here! I didn't know that they needed that much support!
I have plenty of mature peppermint trees (Agonis flexuosa) I can grow them up..? The trees don't shade out the ground below them - as the canopies are are not dense and very high up anyway.

Also tends to be a bit naturally dry at the base of these trees...

I was thinking of a very large plastic pot with the bottom cut out - put onto the ground next to the tree trunk and filled with the soil mix...?


This must be the way they grow in the wild..?
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amanda19
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16th September 2013 9:37am
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starling says...
That is how the grow in the wild yes, but just make sure the tree isn't too tall otherwise it will be very difficult to get at the fruit--they will literally just keep growing up until the have to grow outwards.

S
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16th September 2013 9:40am
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amanda says...
PS - here is a pic of the types of trees I have in mind...? This is north facing and the area on the right gets sun all year round (my jack fruit is doing well here..)

I have all small entire pieces - not cuttings...can I just plant them as is...?
I won't need to cut the bottoms off will I...?

Thanks guys - you are being very helpful! :)
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amanda19
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16th September 2013 9:50am
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BJ says...
Yeah, My dad has a real problem with DF in his rainforest. Someone decided to plant one on a massive fig in there and now there would be well over a tonne of it up in the canopy. It brings down huge limbs in storms. It gets a few fruits way up there but the animals get them all. They become semi epiphitic, so cutting the plant at the base wont kill it, it will just rely on its feeder roots in the tree until it sends down new roots to the ground...

So dont grow them up tall trees...
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Theposterformerlyknownas
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16th September 2013 9:51am
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amanda says...
also - is there no way to "force" them to flop down...? (these trees too tall hey..?)
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amanda19
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starling says...
Yes, definitely too tall. I have also seen what BJ has described occurring on a gigantic hoop pine (house is in the same area as mine) and the guy who planted it on there must be kicking himself now, as BJ says once it gets established its very hard to get rid of as you can't just cut it off at the base like monkey vine, I guess you'd have to poison it somehow.

You won't be able to force them to flop down, really--they actually have a sort of skeleton inside the fleshy outer which will snap if manipulated too much.

Yes amanda you can stick those right into the soil, just make sure the end you plant is scabbed over.

S
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16th September 2013 11:10am
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BJ says...
The only way I can think of to force them to flop down is to install a cross beam 'through' the tree (it needs to be able to support 300kgs odd, so generally hinged beams wouldnt do) that the vine would hang from. Most of the energy would still be put into vertical growth, but it would fruit on the hanging parts. It happens on big Eucalypts here on the side of the road. Where there are lowish branches the vine will hang down, and can hang some 15-20ft and have lots of fruit. Its still often just a bit too high to nab with a pole picker as eucalypts rarely have low branches...
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16th September 2013 12:01pm
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starling says...
This is actually a very good idea. You could use a triangulated bracket and drill this directly into the tree, and attack beams to this around the circumference. Something like this would work, but You'd need more heavy duty ones.

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16th September 2013 12:57pm
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amanda says...
Thanks so much folks - u have given me heaps to think about and plan! :) gutted I didn't talk to you b4 we chopped down this dead monster!?
How perfect would it have been if I had left the trunk 4 foot tall...sob sob!
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16th September 2013 6:05pm
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amanda says...
Starling (or anyone else) - do the initial 'branches' going up need to be tied on to a/the wood pole..? Are they self supporting with those tendrils they send out or not really...?

Thanks :)

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amanda19
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18th September 2013 9:15am
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starling says...
Good video here Amanda, shows the best way to train them. Halos are a very clever addition, wish I'd thought of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anWA9_DV0BE
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Julie says...
The soil in that video looks terrible, but they all seem to be growing well. Maybe it's full of minerals?
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18th September 2013 8:13pm
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starling says...
It is filmed in Indonesia.

S
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20th September 2013 7:09am
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amanda says...
Hey starling - a guy posted this on FB group - it's his mates dragon fruit...and doing really well by all accounts...!?
I thought it was really interesting?!
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20th October 2013 11:25am
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Julie says...
So are they growing in hanging baskets? Wow!
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20th October 2013 11:37am
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starling says...
No reason why you couldn't grow them in pots like that, it's just less than ideal for a variety of reasons, mostly soil volume and the drama of repotting, which would be a nightmare.They look a really deep mulch and fertiliser,would be hard to get the good stuff to them in hanging pots, and they don't like wet feet,which would be hard to manage potted up that way. Those look healthy though-- do you know if he has had much fruit off them?

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20th October 2013 5:50pm
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Original Post was last edited: 20th October 2013 7:27pm
jimsta10 says...
hello has anyone tried coffee grounds as fertilizer? cheers
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21st October 2013 11:52am
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MaryT says...
Yes, I used to collect bags of them from the local Starbucks until they asked me to buy coffees (yuk - they folded shortly after; serves them right). Anyway they are great for acid loving plants e.g. azalea etc. I basically used them as mulch with good results.
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21st October 2013 12:50pm
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jimsta10 says...
Sorry, i was referring to using coffee grounds for Dragon fruit plants. cheers
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21st October 2013 1:57pm
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davewastech says...
Coffee grounds contain caffeine and are somewhat toxic if you apply too much. 16kg/sq m permits weed control. The toxicity goes away after 6 months or so, and it becomes rich soil
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1626/pps.17.93
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WILLOUGHBY EAST,2068,NSW
22nd April 2019 1:56pm
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