The pitahaya comes from Central America and is a fast-growing and densely branched climbing cactus. The shoots can be a few meters long even when kept in containers. Impressive are the huge and fragrant flowers and of course the delicious fruits. It is good to put the plants outside in the summer. They need lots of sun. Care is not difficult, the only problem is overwintering. We have compiled for you everything that is worth knowing about the culture of Hylocereus undatus. Inform yourself!


  • Cactus family
  • Hylocereus undatus
  • Originally from Central America
  • Cultivated nowadays throughout the tropics, especially in China, Vietnam and Israel
  • Climbing cactus, climbs up other plants with the help of clinging roots
  • Three-lobed shoots without thorns
  • Can be 6 to 7 m long and subdivide into individual limbs
  • Some species have false thorns or small hairs
  • Impressive flowers, which are among the largest in the world
  • Confusingly similar to the “Queen of the Night”
  • Flower diameter 25 to 30 cm, color white-yellow
  • The blossom only opens one night and smells wonderful and intense
  • Flowering period – between June and September
  • The best known are the delicious fruits
  • Red skin and creamy white flesh – there are other varieties too
  • High growth rate

The care of the dragon fruit plant

Caring for the pitahaya is uncomplicated. The only problem in many places is their enormous growth. In good conditions, the climbing cactus grows extremely quickly and will cling to everything that is nearby. However, it can easily be guided in any direction and at any height, you just have to give it a scaffold. Hylocereus undatus is very adaptable and doesn’t require much maintenance. A lot of sun and a suitable, very permeable substrate are important. The vessel should not be too big, otherwise the growth will increase. However, if the plant really gets too big, it can easily be shortened. The removed parts can be used for propagation. They are best given as gifts, because probably nobody needs several of these large cacti.

Unfortunately, the dragon tree plant only flowers after about 20 years, although I have read about much shorter periods. You can only be surprised. In any case, it does not have to be poured abundantly or fertilized. This cactus is very undemanding and it hardly prods at all. In addition, he does not take care mistakes personally and is very resilient.


In our latitudes, the pitahaya can only be cultivated in a container. It should stay indoors over the winter. In summer, however, the plants feel most comfortable outdoors, right in the bright sun.


  • Outdoors
  • Sunny, best from all sides
  • sheltered from the wind
  • If possible under one roof, so that rain does not disturb
Tip:  Allow the plant to get used to the sun slowly at first, otherwise burns can occur.


  • housing
  • Either hibernate warm and bright
  • Plant likes dry air
  • Alternatively, a slightly cooler room, which is better for bud development, will suffice
  • 10 to 15°C are favorable
  • Ideal for succulent houses

plant substrate

As with all cacti, the plant substrate must also be permeable for the Pitahaya. Expensive cactus soil is not necessary. The cactus is very adaptable and will thrive in almost any substrate that is not too wet.

  • Sandy soil is preferred
  • A mixture of sand and garden soil is beneficial
  • No peat
  • No compost
  • No waterlogging
  • Also suitable for Seramis or Perlite


There is not much to consider when planting. The vessels should simply not be too big.

  • Use small vessels
  • Two plants are better for pollination, even if the crops are self-fertile
  • Drainage at the bottom of the pot is beneficial to prevent excess water from draining away.
  • It is important to have a stable scaffold or pole in the middle, something that the climbing limbs can hold on to.

watering and fertilizing

The dragon fruit tree belongs to the cacti. These don’t require a lot of water. On the contrary, too much water is absolutely harmful, usually quickly fatal. There is also not much need for fertilization, although the experts do not quite agree.

  • Water very little.
  • Water a little more in spring, at the beginning of the growing season, but only the first time after the winter break.
  • Then always wait until the plant substrate has dried well before watering.
  • Fertilize only during the growing season
  • Most connoisseurs recommend only 3 fertilizer applications spread over the entire growing season
  • Alternatively supply cactus fertilizer every 14 to 28 days

To cut

You don’t actually have to cut the pitahaya. However, if the climbing cactus gets too big, it can easily be reduced in size. There is no cutting, but something similar is done. You simply twist off the individual links. They can be used immediately for propagation. Alternatively, you can also cut off cleanly, but only with a sharp and clean tool.


Hylocereus undatus can be overwintered warm. But a cooler and brighter room is better. A hibernation promotes the formation of flowers and should therefore be observed.

  • Temperatures between 10 and 15°C
  • Unheated bedroom or stairwell
  • Lots of light, so put it by the window if possible
  • Water little
  • Low humidity!
Tip:  The cooler the winter quarters, the less watering. Drying out is unlikely. Death due to rotting due to too much water is much more common.


A pitahaya is quite easy to grow from seed. You simply get a fruit, cut it open and collect the black seeds from the flesh. They are carefully cleaned with kitchen paper and left on the paper overnight. Then you can start sowing.

  • Use seed compost
  • Place seeds only on the surface of the soil, do not cover them with soil – germinates in the light
  • Press seeds lightly
  • Moisten the soil, preferably with a spray bottle
  • Keep warm and bright, 22 to 26° C
  • Seeds must not dry out, so spray regularly with water, but do not keep too wet
  • A glass or plastic cover is useful as the soil and seeds don’t dry out as quickly
  • High humidity is important
  • The first green tips often appear after just 2 days

Alternatively, the plants can also be propagated by cuttings. A complete leaf section is required for this. Anyone who can get hold of it should try this type of vegetative propagation.

  • Put the complete leaf vertically in the plant substrate
  • Epiphyte soil is best suited, but in principle almost any substrate will work
  • Press in a few centimeters deep
  • Lightly moisten the soil
  • Keep light and warm
  • New roots and leaf segments form quite quickly.
  • This type of propagation succeeds much faster

diseases and pests

Diseases of the pitahaya are quite rare. Only serious or constantly recurring care errors lead to this. Too much water is harmful, both irrigation water and rainwater outdoors in summer. Both the flowers and the fruit quickly begin to rot. There are some pests, both animal and bacterial.

  • Fungus gnats – small dark insects that crawl on the ground and fly up when touched. They resemble fruit flies and are often found in masses. The brood is placed in the moist soil. The larvae like to eat the roots. This can have bad consequences. It is important not to keep the soil too moist. Alternatively, the surface of the earth can be covered with quartz sand, fungus gnats do not like that. Yellow stickers bring relief. Matches stuck upside down in the ground should also be helpful in troubleshooting. If nothing helps, you can fall back on nematodes, i.e. tiny roundworms. These are available by mail order and are added to the irrigation water. They are harmless to humans and clean up with the pests.
  • Birds – like to peck at the fruit, but it takes years to get there
  • Snails – love to attack plants outdoors
  • Leaf spot disease – caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris. Occurs primarily in damp and cool weather. It is therefore important that the plant is under a roof and does not get constantly wet

Frequently Asked Questions

Seeds always germinate quickly, but the seedlings then stop growing. Why is that?
I don’t know exactly why, but what to do. The seedlings must not be watered for some time. The soil must dry out completely. When the seedling realizes that water is getting scarce, it stores some. This can be clearly seen from the thickened stem. The shape of the mini cactus changes. If you then water again after a certain drying time, the seedling will really take off and start growing. Of course you can’t wait too long and you have to watch the stalk. It will become thinner as supplies are depleted.

Where can I buy ready-made dragon fruit plants?
I haven’t seen any in stores and I can’t get past a garden market, garden center or the like. On the other hand, you can always find plants on the Internet, whether for sale or for exchange. Cuttings are also available. In principle, acquiring such a plant is not a problem. However, it is also easy to grow your own from seeds. Fruit can always be found in well-stocked supermarkets.

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