Dragon fruit plants, also commonly called pitaya, are part of the group of plants called succulents. They are stunning ornamental plants that also produce the most delicious fruit once the gorgeous white flowers have finished.
Dragon fruit prefers the free-draining soil, which is slightly moist. Sandy loam soil is ideal, and it should be neutral to slightly acidic with a pH of around 6 to 7. Adding organic matter to the soil is also a good idea.
Soil Requirements for Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit grows best in loamy soils that are rich in nutrients, but that must be free-draining. For this reason, the ideal soil type would be sandy loam. This type of soil contains a good amount of organic matter and allows excess moisture to drain away completely.
A soil that is too sandy does not contain a lot of nutrients, and this can produce bland fruits that are not as sweet. Although this type of soil will drain really well, any nutrients that are there quickly get washed away.
On the other hand, if the soil is too damp or becomes waterlogged, the plant will suffer from root rot and die. However, it is necessary for the plant to get enough moisture from the soil to grow and thrive.
Therefore, if you have overly sandy soil, you’ll have to spend some time improving the nutrient content by adding lots of organic matter.
On the other hand, it is possible to grow dragon fruit in clay soil as long as you improve the structure of the soil to increase drainage. You can do this by adding some gypsum to help break up the clay particles. Adding lots of organic matter will also help to improve the drainage of the soil. Many clay soils are high in micronutrients and minerals that these plants will happily absorb.
Ideal Soil pH for Dragon Fruit
The soil pH should be around 6 to 7 for your dragon fruit to grow optimally. This is generally regarded as neutral to slightly acidic.
Soils that have pH extremes of either being too acidic or too alkaline will inhibit the uptake of vital nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. Therefore, it’s important to test your soil pH and amend it if necessary.
Here’s how to amend soil pH if you need to:
- For alkaline soils with a high pH, incorporate a good amount of organic matter into the soil. This could include compost, manures, leaf litter, and mulch. Powdered sulfur can also be used, but this will take around 6 months for you to see a noticeable difference in the pH level of the soil.
- If your soil is too acidic, you should add some agricultural lime or poultry manure to raise the pH level adequately.
To test your soil pH, inexpensive testing kits are available from most garden centers or hardware stores.
Add some Mulch On Top of the Soil
Adding a layer of mulch on top of the soil has numerous benefits. One of the best types of mulch to use around fruits and vegetables is hay or straw. This breaks down over time and adds valuable nutrients to the soil.
For sandy soils, mulch will increase the nutrient content as it breaks down and will also help to stop the moisture from evaporating before the plant roots get a chance to absorb it.
Laying mulch over clay soils can greatly help to improve the structure of the soil when it decomposes. This helps to break up some of the clay particles and makes the nutrients more readily available to the plant roots.
Can you Make Up your own Soil Mix for Growing Dragon Fruit in Pots?
If your garden soil is not ideal, or you simply don’t have the space to grow one of these plants in your garden, it’s entirely possible to grow them in pots. For this, you can make up your own ideal mix by using a premium potting mix and a few other ingredients.
Here’s a simple recipe that you can use:
- 4 parts good quality potting mix
- 2 parts coarse builder’s sand
- 1 part perlite
When measuring your ingredients, remember to measure by volume and not by weight. This is because some ingredients will weigh more than others. A good way to do this is to use a large plastic plant pot or bucket and measure the ingredients into a wheelbarrow or garden cart for mixing.
It’s also important to remember that dragon fruit roots will grow quite deep once the plant starts flowering and fruiting. For this reason, you want to use a pot that is around 2 feet deep or one labeled as a 20-gallon pot.
What Type of Soil does Dragon Fruit Not Like?
Above all else, dragon fruit really dislikes waterlogged soil that stays wet for long periods of time. This should be avoided at all costs if you want to grow delicious dragon fruits successfully.
If you find that you do have lots of low-lying areas in your garden, you could build up the soil or create a raised bed to grow your dragon fruit in. For an extremely successful raised bed, consider filling it with three different layers of materials.
- On the bottom layer, put a thick layer of mulch, hay, perlite, or pumice to allow for excellent drainage.
- In the middle layer, you can use good quality garden soil that has a loamy consistency. You could even add some builder’s sand to this to improve the drainage. Make sure you mix it in well.
- The top layer should also consist of mulch but use only straw or hay for this. You might like to incorporate a little chicken manure into this top layer. When this breaks down, your dragon fruit will get all the nutrients that it needs and reward you with delicious, sweet fruit.