There are a few plants which can be grown both for food and as an ornamental, and dragon fruit is definitely one of them. Dragon fruit plants (also called pitaya/pithaya) are long, gangly cactuses which sprout large, colorful fruits reminiscent of dragon skin. They are native to Central America but nowadays they are widely grown in Southeast Asia.
Growing dragon fruit at home can be immensely satisfying, but like all cactuses, they can be picky about their growing conditions, such as temperature, water, and growing medium.
What Is the Best Soil for Dragon Fruit?
The best soil for dragon fruit is one that is well-draining and rich in nutrients, ideally with a good amount of loamy sand, and organic matter for some water and nutrient retention.
Dragon fruit is a cactus, and like all succulents, it absolutely does not like “wet feet” and will suffer in soggy, wet soils. However, very sandy soils dry out too quickly and also can’t hold onto nutrients well. Growing dragon fruit in very sandy soil will require more frequent watering and fertilizing.
What Is the Ideal Soil pH for Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit grow best in neutral or slightly soil, with a pH of 6 to 7 being optimal.
While dragon fuit can tolerate a variety of pH levels, anything too acidic or too alkaline will reduce the availability of nutrients in the soil. For example, trace metals like iron and zinc are absorbed better with a lower pH, while calcium and magnesium are absorbed better at a higher pH, but the key macronutrient phosphorus is absorbed best between a pH of 6 and 6.5.
Can You Grow Dragon Fruit in Clay Soil?
Dragon fruit can grow in clay soil, but will grow more poorly than in sandy or loamy soil.
The reason is because clay soil is very heavy and holds onto water too much. The roots of your dragon fruit can easily become waterlogged and drown in clay soil.
That said, small amounts of clay are beneficial because clay is rich in minerals and other micronutrients.
Does Dragon Fruit Need Soil to Grow?
Dragon fruit normally needs soil to grow but can be grown hydroponically without soil.
Dragon fruit grown hydroponically requires a large system since dragon fruit plants can grow up to 20 feet tall. Maximum Yield goes into much more detail about how to grow dragon fruit in a hydroponic system.
How Do You Make Dragon Fruit Soil at Home?
To make your own soil for dragon fruit plants, there are several directions you can take. You can use regular succulent potting mix, but since fruiting requires more nutrients than vegetative growth, you will need to add more rich organic matter. Here are a few basic homemade dragon fruit soil mix recipes:
Sandy Soil Mix
- 4 parts high quality potting soil, such as FoxFarm Ocean Forest or Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix
- 2 parts coarse sand
- 1 part perlite
Non-Sandy Soil Mix
- 2 parts high quality potting soil
- 1 part perlite
In addition, you can avoid adding extra sand and perlite, but you will still have to go with something well-draining. Richard at Grafting Dragon Fruit uses only potting mix, chicken manure, and worm castings.
How Deep Are Dragon Fruit Roots?
During vegetative growth, dragon fruit plants have relatively shallow roots reaching 8 to 12 inches. However, when they begin flowering and fruiting, dragon fruit roots will extend as much as 24 inches into the soil.
Because of this, when you are filling your dragon fruit containers with soil, you should use containers at least 2 feet deep. Around 20 gallons is often recommended for full-sized plants.