Exotic dragon fruit easy to grow at home
Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or the strawberry pear, is a lesser known fruit in New Zealand.
It is a beautiful tropical fruit, sweet and crunchy and it tastes a bit like a cross between a kiwifruit and a pear.
Unusual looking, this exotic fruit is easy to cut and prepare. You can enjoy eating it in fruit salads, it can be used to create tasty drinks and desserts, and it is a wonderful, healthy snack on its own.
Dragon fruit is low in calories and offers numerous nutrients, including vitamin C, phosphorus, and calcium. It also supplies a good amount of fibre and antioxidants.
Dragon fruit is grown in southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, and Israel. Becoming more widely available in NZ, the plant can be grown in the home garden in any hot, sunny and largely frost free situation.
The dragon fruit plant is a cacti. The fruit that is produced and consumed is the seed pod of the cacti growing between 150-600g in size, sometimes up to 1kg.
For ease of harvest the dragon fruit plant is best trained along a fence, or other support, although it can be left to sprawl over the ground or over a bank.
In Hawaii, there is a famous dragon fruit cactus hedge on a lava rock wall of the Punahou School in Honolulu. Planted in 1836, its exotic blossoms still bloom during the closing summer months with white flowers offering a spectacular display that subsequently turn to fruit as the seed pods set. Supposedly all the dragon fruit in Hawaii came from the wall of Punahou School. People used to come in the evenings from all over the island to see them blooming and “borrow” some cuttings so that now they have this species all over the island.