Most of the dragon fruits we have today originate from central America–in places like Guatemala, Nicaragua & Colombia. In the 1980s or so, the Frenchmen helped carry these to Vietnam, where the mass production of dragon fruits really took off.
Scientifically, dragon fruits belong to the Hylocereus family and the different varieties are classified as:
- Hylocereus guatemalensis
- Hylocereus costaricensis
- Hylocereus undatus
- Hylocereus megalanthus (formerly Selenecereus megalanthus)
- Hylocereus polyrhizus
... And many other hybrid varieties from these original dragon fruits. If you're wondering which varieties to choose to grow, eat or get good pollen from, let's begin our exploration with:
The sweetest variety
Hylocereus megalanthus (HM) is also known commonly as the yellow Ecuador Palora dragon fruit. It is super spiky with about 12 spikes per petal. But the fruit, according to many, is hands-down the sweetest of sweet. It tastes almost like honey or a sugar cube. While their skin is yellow, their flesh is actually white.
The sweetness is reflected by their high BRIX reading (the sugar measure) of over 20 in most cases. Some folks who prefer a sweet-and-tart taste in their dragon fruits don't find this variety too appealing though. It is overly sweet to their taste. However, if this is something that can excite your taste buds, then definitely give it a try & see how you like it.
Here is the look of a yellowing dragon fruit climbing on the side of a wall (with a nice little pink adenium tree next to it, hehe). But we digress.
Yellow Ecuador Palora fruit on branch:
Going back, while other dragon fruit varieties take about 60 days to go from flower buds to fruits, the HM variety can take somewhere from 150 days up to 7 months to develop fruits. The harvesting & handling can be a bit time-consuming because we need to brush the thorns off the fruits. These guys produce white flowers & they are said to be self-fertile.
The HM prices in some countries are insanely high. It may cost up to about $100/lb or $50/kilo depending on the fruit size & quality. A good cutting goes from $25-$50. This variety can also a good choice for long-term investment as of now. But the trend may change.
>> Link YouTube (a little fruit costs $2.99):TRYING OUT A MYSTERIOUS FRUIT - The Protsenko Family
There is another yellow variety called the Thai Yellow. It may be a cross between Hylocereus Megalanthus & some other specie. Their smaller fruits actually taste sweeter than the bigger ones. They have big black seeds like watermelon seeds & are very sweet.
Here are the Thai yellow dragon fruits we talked about guys. There are so many of them:
If you want a variety to get good pollen from, then keep scrolling on to see these:
If you want to grow varieties that produce good pollen, try Lisa (Hylocereus polyrhizus), Sugar Dragon (Hylocereus guatemalensis hybrid) or Vietnam White.
Sugar Dragon, a baby created by the master Paul Thomson, is one of the most prolific pollen generator of all species. Some call it the Universal Pollinator. Because you can use their pollen to pollinate almost all the other varieties. Their pollen are often the beasts.
Growing Lisa & Sugar Dragon together may give you good pollen all season round. They actually sequence each other in flowering. Meaning, when one variety finishes blooming, the other one starts flowering. And just like that, they sequence each other year in year out. You'll have enough pollen for the whole year.
Sugar Dragon flowers come in early, so you can use that to pollinate varieties like American Beauty (Hylocereus guatemalensis hybrid) that also flowers early. They can be a good match just in time.
Vietnam White is another great pollinator you can use to pollinate other species. This variety in itself is self fertile however it does produce quite a good amount of pollen.
But what if you love the taste of dragon fruits, but don't want to take in too much sugar? Check out these good ones:
Good for diabetics
Most of the white-flesh ones (Hylocereus undatus) like the Vietnam White are good for diabetics. They have a low sugar content, but still give you a bunch of other nutritional benefits like anti-oxidants, eyesight improvement, blood pressure balancing, etc.
But to some folks, the taste of the white pulp is bland. This may be because the store-bought ones are picked too early so they can survive long shipping. Thus, not enough time to fully ripen. Try the George's White or Seoul Kitchen. These are great for diabetics but still give you a good taste plus a ton of vitamins, fiber & phytonutrients.
Finally, if you want to grow dragon fruit commercially, which ones should you choose? See some good choices right below:
Best dragon fruit varieties for commercial growing
Some best commercial dragon fruit varieties are:
- American Beauty
- Physical Graffiti
- Edgar's Baby
- Valdivia Roja
American Beauty has good fruit size and weight from 0.5 lb to over 1 lb. With a nice outer look, it also attracts quite a lot of consumers. The inside purple flesh tastes sweet with a tart after-taste when picked early. When ripe, the American Beauty is very sweet. This variety can self-pollinate but you can get good results when pollinating them with pollen from Lisa or Sugar Dragon.
Not just a cool name, Physical Graffiti has excellent fruit yields. Sometimes, it produces so much that people actually need to let go of some. Their fruits are large, weighing up to 1.5 lbs. With a balanced taste of sweet-n-sour, many folks just love this variety. It also grows well in California and Florida.
Check out more:
>> Link Blog post: Best varieties for commercial growing (dragon fruit)
Other lesser-known dragon fruit varieties
As it turns out, there are not only 5 varieties of dragon fruits as we have saw in the beginning of our tour. There are actually so many more varieties.
Here is a list of the species name, skin and flesh colors:
Choosing a variety to grow...
After our dragon fruit variety tour, which variety has got your attention the most? Would it be the sweetest yellow one? Or the white ones with a low sugar content or perhaps some of the Super Pollinators?
Whichever one you choose, we hope you enjoy the taste & the goodness of what a dragon fruit promises to offer. Hope this guide has given you some good ideas to get started. Thanks for visiting & See you again next time.
Responses to Readers' Questions
Hylecereus andatus,l want higher and sweeter fruit .Which pollinators do l use
--> Try Lisa, Sugar Dragon or a mix of both! Because many white-flesh varieties are self-fertile, you could also use its own pollen. For sweeter fruits:
- Don't mix in too much sand
- Water lightly because dragon fruits like some moisture
- Don't water or overwater 10-15 days before picking the fruits
- Harvest the fruits that are in season (late summer/early fall is the sweetest)
- Don't leave the fruits on the branches for too long
- Choose sweet varieties from the start (Palora, S8, American Beauty)
- Use fresh viable pollen from strong species (Vietnam White, S8, Lisa)
If you want higher yield, a good variety is Physical Graffiti. It's one of the top producers there are. In a warmer/more humid environment, dragon fruits may put out 4 pushes a year. In a more temperate climate, it may give 1-2 crops a year.
If you haven't heard about it already, check out EM (effective microorganism) or IMO (indigenous microorganism). They are basically the good microbes for your plants and soil. People use it on their dragon fruit plants with amazing results. Those plants that used to produce 1 crop a year now yield 4 crops a year thanks to this stuff.
I wish you the best with your dragon fruit plants!
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