By Vina Medenilla
Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus), also referred to as pitaya or pitahaya, is a tropical fruit that belongs to the cactus family. It is popular for its oblong fruits that come in colors red, yellow, or pink.
Aside from its unique appearance, it is also packed with health benefits and can boost one’s immunity and improve cardiovascular health.
In San Vicente, Camarines Norte, approximately 400 dragon fruit trees are grown in a 1000 sqm growing space called Elnino Garden.
Its proprietor, Eduardo “Daboy” Odi, initially grew ornamentals to help him overcome grief after losing a loved one.
The garden that was once a small plant collection evolved into a venue for food production and more decorative plant varieties.
Out of all the burgeoning plants on the premises, Odi chose dragon fruit as his main crop.
Based on his experience, these are basic requirements when growing this type of fruit:
Cuttings. The success lies not just in the soil but also in the materials to be used in planting.
Elnino Garden uses 10 to 12 inches of healthy cuttings that come from a known source. This allows the gardener to protect his garden from any threats that may come from disease-infected cuttings.
Pruning. Damaged and diseased stems, as well as those that block the light from penetrating into plants, should be pruned.
This aids in managing diseases well and helps in the production of flowers and the growth of stems and branches.
Sunlight. Dragon fruits prefer to be grown in open areas with direct exposure to sunlight and minimal shade. Receiving ample amounts of sunlight helps them grow and produce fruits well.
Watering. Dragon fruit trees are watered at least once a week. Watering them is normally skipped during the rainy season.
It should not be carried out above the tree to prevent the spread of diseases and produce quality fruits, says Odi. Based on his experience, drip irrigation works best.
Well-drained soil with organic compost. Quality soil is an integral part of dragon fruit cultivation.
Elnino Garden ensures the use of organic fertilizer and composts before and during planting to help with plant growth.
Odi highly recommends planting dragon fruits in sandy loam soil with high organic content and a pH level between 5.5 to 6.5.
Soil testing is also a must. This can be processed through the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management.
Photos courtesy of Elnino Garden
For more information, visit Elnino Garden