How to Grow a Green Dragon Cactus Plant

Overview

The green dragon cactus, Arisaema dracontium, is also known as the pitaya cactus, dragon fruit or strawberry pear. The green dragon is tropical and has no tolerance for freezing temperatures. Flowers appear overnight, wilting in the morning, and are pollinated by nocturnal creatures such as moths or bats. The fruit is white with black seeds and a creamy sweet flavor similar to a kiwi fruit. Plant at least two green dragon cacti if fruit is desired; some varieties of green dragon cactus are not self-fertilizing. Each cactus can produce several crops a year, yielding up to 220 pounds of fruit on a 4 year-old plant.

Step 1

Plant green dragon cactus in a well-drained sunny location with sandy soil. In areas with poor drainage, plant on a mound of sandy soil.

Step 2

Dig a large hole, 3 times as wide and deep as the pot the plant came in. Plant the green dragon cactus in the hole at the same level it was growing. Gently firm the soil around the plant.

Step 3

Apply four to five pounds of composted manure around the base of the plant yearly. Fertilize every other month with a general balanced NPK fertilizer such as 13-13-13.

Step 4

Water during extended dry periods when the ground dries out completely. Do not water in the winter or during times of normal rainfall.

Step 5

Provide the plant with a strong trellis capable of supporting several hundred pounds of weight. A trellis made of wood, brick or metal is best. Wire must be covered with hose to avoid cutting the plant.

Step 6

Prune the plant when small, removing lateral branches until the plant reaches the height of the trellis.

Step 7

Cut the tip of the plant when it reaches trellis height to encourage branching. Tie the main stem and the new branches to the trellis.

Step 8

Harvest fruit 30 to 50 days after the fruit set. The fruit does not ripen, but is does get sweeter and larger.

Tips and Warnings

  • Green dragon cacti have spines, so wear gloves and protective clothing when working with them.

Things You'll Need

  • General NPK fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

References

  • University of Hawaii Extension Service: Pitaya
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Pitaya Growing in the Florida Landscape
Keywords: green dragon cactus, grow dragon cactus, grow dragon fruit

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.