Description: A vining, terrestrial or epiphytic cactus, with fleshy stems reaching from a few inches up to 20ft long (in mature plants). The plant may grow out of, and over the ground or climb onto trees using aerial roots. Flowers are ornate and beautiful, and many related species are propagated as ornamentals. They bloom only at night, and usually last just one night where pollination is necessary to set fruit. In full production, pitahaya plants can have up to 4-6 fruiting cycles per year.
Hardiness: Will tolerate temperatures to 104F, and short periods of frost, but prolonged cold will damage or kill the plant.
Growing Environment: Dragon Fruit grows best in dry, tropical or subtropical climates where annual rainfall ranges from 20-50" per year. In wet, tropical zones, plants may grow well but sometimes have problems setting fruit reliably. The plants aren't usually too picky as to soil type, but because of their epiphytic nature, it is recommended to grow them in soil that is supplemented with high amounts of organic material. The plant has been grown successfully in sandy soils. Shade is sometimes provided in hot climates.
Propagation: By seed, or by stem cuttings.
Uses: The fruit is popular eaten chilled, out of hand. It is also used to flavor drinks and pastries. Unopened flowerbuds are cooked and eaten as vegetables.
Native Range: The exact origin is unknown, but is likely from Southern Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. It is cultivated around the world in tropical regions.