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[Showcase] GetNerfedOn's Dragonfruit


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So here I've decided to share both the story and the images I've gathered of my dragonfruit plants, which I grew mostly inspired by Don't Starve!

Spoiler

The showcase begins when a precocious teenager was asked some time 2015 by their parents that they wanted him to grow dragonfruit for them, due to dragonfruit's purported health benefits. Normally, with such a toilsome chore ahead of him, he would have refused... 

...but he had been playing Don't Starve and was currently loving everything about dragonfruit (even if it was not totally accurately portrayed). He liked the fruit's appearance, and he tied his parents' statements about the wonders of eating dragonfruit to its' status as one of the most, if not the most beneficial crops in Don't Starve. (Hey, at the time, he wasn't even skilled at the game and spawned everything in via console, so whenever he needed to heal or eat he spawned in dragonpie and no other food!)

So while his parents' interest for the fruit died down, the young teenager grew more interest for it and began extensive research on how to grow it; finding out about its' amazing qualities as a hybrid tropical cactus-vine, marveling at other people describing it as easy to grow, and most of all getting determined to grow his own batch and fruit it!

But his spirits were dampened as his first plans were to grow dragonfruit from seeds. That was also the first time he had seen a dragonfruit in person - held it, sliced it open to reveal the lovely flesh within and savor the mild sweet taste and the crunchy black seeds, saving some for later use.

However, the seeds he planted would only germinate... and that was it. They didn't grow any further.

So the young man, after watching them for so many weeks without success, decided to abandon that plan in favor of growing a plant from a cutting.

So some time early in the next year, while he traveled with his father traveling across the Trans-central Cebu highway, he suddenly clapped eyes on a small, humble home with dragonfruit growing in their front yard. He immediately told his father they had to return there to buy some cuttings. When they returned there, he marveled at the sheer enormity of the plants, with branches flying wide above him a good foot taller than him. His father struck deals with the lady living there, and he acquired his first three cuttings. They headed home, determined to make the cuttings fruit with tasty fruit that they could eat.

What followed was a maelstrom of impatience, determination and frustration as the young man grew his plants for about three years... but as the plants grew taller than he did, they were attacked by so many things such as a disease which constantly grew and attacked the branches with white spots and ants and black bugs which chewed away branches until they rotted.

Trial and error was the name of the game as the guides the young man found on the internet only told him of the ease of growing the plants, never telling him of any pests and diseases. Desperation had him spray his plants with mixtures of soap and baking soda to rid them of the pests, wondering if what he was doing was right. Sadly, for two of the three cuttings, it was not enough, and they rotted away, their branches yellowed, sickly and reduced to mush by disease.

Troubled as he was during that time with both the fruit and other pressing matters such as schoolwork, even the young man himself was losing interest in the plants. He did not wish any longer to care for them. The branches stung him with their thorns, the disease grew ever persistently a month after he would flush it out. His father had provided him with more branches and fertilizer to grow with - but what was the point when there seemed to be no progress? Was it the fact that they were only growing in five-kilogram pots? Was it the fact that the disease expended so much of their energy? 

So on the summer of 2019, he was only caring for them halfheartedly (while also cursing the fact that all the guides he'd read so far had only half-led him and especially by the fact that all you needed to grow dragonfruit in Don't Starve was to shovel manure down into the plant three times). His plants were starting to show signs of neglect, with only one plant growing strong while the rest only middle-size, with the former shown below: 

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However, despite all this, he was still going on for them. He still believed they could bear fruit, and his father even more so, the latter having gone as far as to erect trellises for the plants to grow in. Every time an accursed spot of diseased white began to show, instead of spraying the plants down with brews he had devised, he had taken to brushing the white spots away, which was far more effective. 

And on one sunny day in that toasty hot summer, he headed over to the cacti to clean them, and lo and behold...

IMG_9597.thumb.JPG.72bfd20fe78ac59aefc2a3cfa7922156.JPGIMG_9598.thumb.JPG.8adc0510b90cda098d7dd77301486b31.JPGIMG_9599.thumb.JPG.288bc230e5fbf2904b9d4339e14f6f32.JPGIMG_9600.thumb.JPG.71b2e8a697317688bfceada28851f7c8.JPG

... flower buds were growing all over the cacti.

The joy he felt at that moment was indescribably immense. He told his father of the news, and soon enough work on the plants was revitalized and doubled. A lot of the new buds fell victim to ants, but eventually, with much care and support, two buds managed to grow full size:

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He awaited the day they would bloom, driving away any ants willing to ruin all his hard work, and they finally bloomed without further interference:

 

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He ensured they were pollinated on the night they bloomed, and finally they managed to fruit:

 

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Though not of the variety that was found in Don't Starve, the man had done it - he'd grown dragonfruit, flowered it and fruited it, over a span of three years.

Now all he needs is to turn into a pie. With some twigs. XD

And with harvest time coming soon, he shall gladly await the day his plants shall flower and fruit again.

I've also provided some tips for those who would wish to plant their own dragonfruit as well!

Spoiler

 - Planting via seed, while possible, is so much slower and prone to failure; plant using cuttings instead if seeking faster, easier results. 

 - Dragonfruit are climbing cacti used to tropical jungles. Therefore, provide them with trellises and water infrequently - every other day or every 3-5 days is fine. Unlike desert cacti, dragonfruit originate from humid environments and thus require water more than their arid-living counterparts.

 - Dragonfruit can reproduce asexually (think of starfish); just cut off a branch, leave it for two days such that it's wound dries out, stick it in soils you wish for it to grow and it'll grow.

 - Dragonfruit can survive in full sun, but grow best in partial shade owing to their adaptation to life in jungles.

 - Dragonfruit can survive in pots with 1kg soil capacity or greater; just fertilize them often and don't forget the trellises.

 - Fertilize with your choice of fertilizer every two weeks. I use 14/14/14 Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium NPK (Bird droppings are also applicable).

 - Fertilize with Nitrogen and Phosphorus when your cacti are still growing, and fertilize with Potassium when in flowering season. The former two stimulate root, leaf and stem growth, while the latter one stimulates flowering and fruiting.

 - Prune every now and then, cutting off the branch tips and new branches growing from the sides of branches that have grown to your desired length.

 - Where I'm from, dragonfruit season runs from June until September, take note of when dragonfruit season is in your place of residence and prepare for flowering and fruiting, accordingly fertilizing with Potassium.

 - Also, my plants took three years to grow fruit; while many factors came into play to my plants as well such as neglect and disease, I would advise fellow growers to be patient as the process may or may not take that long.

 - As aforementioned, dragonfruit is subject to pests and diseases, with the ones my plants have been afflicted:

      - ants which feed off branches

      - aphids

      - black ladybug-like bugs which attack main stems

      - a white, fungus-like disease which grows mainly on surfaces of the dragonfruit unexposed to the sun before spreading and rotting the branches.

 - Deal with the first three pests with insecticides of your choice, preferably those which do not taint your fruit

 - For the fourth pest, brush away all spots which afflict the plants with a bursh of your choice ( i use a toothbrush) while dousing the area with a spray composed of water, a bit of liquid soap and 3 tbsps. baking soda

 - Dragonfruit flowers bloom at night; potential pollinators include bats, bees, and flies. Hand or brush pollination appears viable, at least for my plants. Simply take some of the pollen (there is a LOT of pollen on one flower) and rub on the stigma (it looks like an anemone andkinda sticks out, should be hard to miss.)

 - Pollinated flowers grow into fruit and are ready to harvest 35 days after fertilization.

 - Do not wait for fruit to drop off the plants; that means they're overripe. Instead, when the fruit looks VERY red and the 35 day mark has passed, twist the fruit's base and it should come off after two or three twists.

 

Edited by GetNerfedOn
Removed "im sorry i think this is off topic but i'll post it here" disclaimer because after a year of presence in this subforum i think it's safe to assume we're officially on topic
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2 hours ago, Szczuku said:

These are desert plants? The green part looks like some cactuses or other succulents

The Dragonfruit is a tropical cactus which, in the wild, grows like a vine and attaches itself to larger tree trunks via aerial roots. Hence why I have mounted them on trellises :) Also, compared to other cacti, the Dragonfruit cactus is more tolerant to watering and less sturdy as well.

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At last!

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After 16 days of development, one of the flowers finally blooms!

I have successfully pollinated the dear thing. Within 35 days it shall soon develop into a dragonfruit!

The flower only blooms at night and also has a faint, very gentle, yet sweet hibiscus scent about it.

This morning, its job of being fertilized done, the flower began growing limp.

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As for the other two flowers, I expect them to bloom tonight!

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Edited by GetNerfedOn
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2 hours ago, Szczuku said:

Huh... never thought I'd watch a plant grow. Kinda like it

I'm glad you dooo :D

 

Anyhow, the rest of the flowers are about to bloom now! 

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If only i had the requipment and time to do a timelapse on my precious plant bbys!

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