Dragon fruit plant belongs to a family of cactus that produces an odd-looking fruit that looks like a magical dragon egg. Their beautiful big flowers are mostly around 20cm broad and they commonly appear during the summer. They appear yellow green on the outside and scented white inside, which appear to be lily like bloom. Flowers are likely to open in the evening and can only last one night.
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How to grow Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruits grows well in warm conditions with mild winters and not too cold. Ideally, their optimum growth temperature should be kept above 10 degrees. They can handle heat, drought, humidity and poor soils but will grow well with regular watering and rich soil.
Choose a sunny site and then boost the soil with compost manure and enriched with organic fertiliser, add some lime. Soil should have good drainage as these plants rot easily if the roots sit in the water.
Mulch plants to protect their shallow roots from drying and the little water.
Propagation of Dragon Fruits
Dragon fruit plant can be propagated from either seed or cuttings. To grow from the seed, squeeze some flesh onto a towel and keep moist in a warm position but should be away from direct sunlight. Seeds will bud after 2-3 weeks and can be potted up.
Water weekly with OCP eco-seaweed to mature into strong seedlings and pot into individual pots once they are large and strong enough. Seedlings might take longer to start fruiting stage.
To take a cutting simply break off a segment of about 30-50cm tall and leave in a dry sheltered spot for a week. This will be able to let the cut end to seal and also prevent it from rotting. Plant the cutting in a pot and keep it in a bright shady spot while roots are forming before then moving into the sun. Do not over do the watering during this time.
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Fertilizing and Maintenance of Dragon Fruit
After every 2-3 weeks apply a mix of OCP eco-seaweed as a foliar spray or watered in the soil around the plant. For Each spring reapply lime and add more compost manure. The plant must be properly supported while it is growing.
When established the top can become quite leafy and huge. Occasionally remove some of the longer shoots to keep it under control and allow space for new growth to develop. This is stage is important because flowers form on the ends of new season growth. Therefore, each year you need new growth to get fruit. This allows the fruit to grow bigger.
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Harvesting Dragon Fruits
The dragon fruit is ripe approximately a month after flowering, but this can vary with local conditions. Fruit will not continue to ripen once picked so one need to look for other signs before picking. Ensure that the color of the fruit is bright and even all over and the small “wings” Like extensions on the fruit are starting to wither. Pick by twisting the fruit off the mother plant or cut with secateurs.
Benefits of dragon fruits
- It contains prebiotics that feed the healthy bacteria called probiotics in the digestive system. Having more prebiotics in the system can improve the balance of good to bad bacteria in intestines. In the gut, these and other helpful bacteria can kill disease- causing viruses and bacteria.
- It contains antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acid, and betacyanin. These natural substances protect our cells from damage by free radicals — molecules that can lead to diseases like cancer and premature aging.
- It can strengthen the immune system. Dragon fruit is high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, which are good for immune system.
- It help lower blood sugar. Researchers say this might be partly because it replaces damaged cells in the pancreas that make insulin, the hormone that helps your body break down sugar.
- It’s naturally fat-free and high in fiber. It makes for a good snack because it can help keep one full for longer between meals.
- It can boost iron levels. Iron is important for moving oxygen through the body and giving the body energy, and dragon fruit has iron. And the vitamin C in dragon fruit helps the body take in and use the iron.
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