Why you should not grow your dragon fruit up a tree?

Growing dragon fruit / Pitaya (Hylocereus spp.) up a tree might initially seem like a creative and space-saving idea, but there are several reasons why it's generally not recommended:

Dragon fruit growing up a tree

  • Inadequate support: Trees might not provide the necessary support for the heavy and sprawling nature of dragon fruit plants. As the dragon fruit grows, it can become quite heavy with the weight of its stems, fruits, and leaves, which can lead to instability and potential damage to both the dragon fruit plant and the tree.

  • Competition for resources: When you grow a dragon fruit plant up a tree, it competes with the tree for sunlight, water, and nutrients. Dragon fruit plants require a significant amount of sunlight to thrive and produce fruit, and they may not receive adequate light when grown in the shadow of a tree.

  • Root system interference: The root systems of the dragon fruit plant and the tree may interfere with each other's growth and development. This can result in poor growth, reduced fruiting, and an overall unhealthy plant.

  • Pruning difficulties: Dragon fruit plants require regular pruning to maintain their shape and promote proper growth. Growing them up a tree can make pruning challenging and may lead to tangled and unmanageable growth.

  • Accessibility and maintenance: When the dragon fruit plant grows high up in a tree, it becomes difficult to access the fruits for harvesting and the plant for maintenance. Harvesting fruits and tending to the plant will be more complicated and potentially hazardous.
Diseased dragon fruit up a gum tree
  • Disease and pest transmission: When dragon fruit plants are grown in close proximity to trees, there is an increased risk of disease and pest transmission between the two. The tree may harbor pests or diseases that could be detrimental to the dragon fruit plant. You can not spray or contain any diseases due to the height of the dragon fruit plant when its 30m up a tree.

  • Vulnerability to weather conditions: If the tree is not strong enough or is prone to damage from severe weather events like storms or heavy winds, both the tree and the dragon fruit plant could be at risk.

  • Fruiting. When your dragon fruit produces fruit you will most likely loose your crop to bats, birds and just not being able to reach any of the fruit. 

In conclusion, while it might seem like a unique idea to grow dragon fruit up a tree, it's generally not advisable due to the various challenges and risks it presents. It's better to grow dragon fruit in a dedicated, well-maintained structure like a trellis or on its own support system, ensuring it has enough space, sunlight, and resources to thrive and produce healthy fruit.

See our bog on trellis ideas. 

Watch: The Weedy Garden