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.
Many people ask then:
How Many Varieties of Dragon Fruit Are There?
Scientifically, dragon fruits belong to the family with a scientific name Hylocereus and the different varieties are classified as:
- Hylocereus guatemalensis
- Hylocereus costaricensis
- Hylocereus undatus
- Hylocereus megalanthus (formerly Selenecereus megalanthus)
- Hylocereus polyrhizus
... plus 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 or selection guide with:
Which Dragon Fruit Is the Sweetest?
Hylocereus megalanthus (HM) commonly known as Ecuador Palora, according to many, is hands-down the sweetest of all dragon fruit varieties. It tastes almost like honey or a sugar cube. While its skin is yellow, the flesh is actually white.
The sweetness is reflected by their high BRIX reading (the sugar measure) of over 20 in most cases. The average for most dragon fruit is about 15 or so. 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 anyway, we digress.
Here is a yellow Ecuador Palora fruit on branch:
Going back to our post, while other dragon fruit varieties take about 60 days to go from flower buds to fruits, the Hylocereus megalanthus (yellow Ecuador Palora) variety can take somewhere from 150 days up to 7 months to develop fruits.
The harvesting & handling can be a bit time-consuming. The Palora branch is super spiky with about 12 spikes per petal. So, harvesters need to brush the thorns off the fruits. These guys produce white flowers & they are said to be self-fertile.
The prices for this Hylocereus megalanthus variety 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 of the variety goes from somewhere between $25 and $50. It can also be a good choice for long-term investment as of now. But the trend may head off another way.
>> 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 species. 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:
If you want a variety to get good pollen from, then keep scrolling on to see these:
Which Varieties of Dragon Fruit Are Self Pollinating?
Some self-pollinating dragon fruit varieties are: American Beauty, Lisa, Townsend Pink, Vietnam White, Ecuador Palora, Sugar Dragon, Voodoo Child.
Check out this list below for self-fertile vs cross-pollination varieties:
Self-fertile vs Cross-Pollination Varieties
|American Beauty||Physical Graffiti|
|Sugar Dragon||Red Jeina|
|Colombian Yellow||Hayley's Comet|
|Peruvian Yellow||Frankie's Red|
|Ecuador Palora||Edgar's Baby|
|Dark Star S9||Maria Rosa|
|San Ignacio||Connie Mayer|
|Royal Red||Cosmic Charlie|
|-||Paul Thomson G2|
|-||Kathie van Arum|
Best Dragon Fruit Pollinating Varieties (Super Pollinators)
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 generators of all species. Some call it the Universal Pollinator. Because you can use their pollen to pollinate almost all the other varieties. Their pollen is often of very high fertility rate.
Growing Lisa & Sugar Dragon together may give you good pollen all season round. The two 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 to use 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.
You love the taste of dragon fruits, but don't want to take in too much sugar? Check out these good low-sugar ones:
Good Dragon Fruits 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 antioxidants, eyesight improvement, blood pressure balancing, etc.
But to some folks, the taste of the white pulp of dragon fruit is bland. This may be because the store-bought ones are picked too early so they can survive long shipping. Thus, there may not be 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.
Lastly, if you want to grow dragon fruit commercially, which ones should you choose?
See some good choices 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 (226 grams) to over 1 lb (450 grams). 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 also 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 (680 gram). With a balanced taste of sweet-n-sour, many folks just fall in love this variety. It also grows well in California and Florida soils.
Check out more:
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 Dragon Fruit Variety to Grow...
It has been a fun dragon fruit variety tour with you! Which variety has got your attention the most?
Whether it's 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. Enjoy growing & 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 harvest is often 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. It has been observed that dragon fruits that used to produce 1 crop a year now yield 4 crops a year after applying this stuff.
All the best with your dragon fruit growing!
How come you gave credit to other ike Gray Martin and three others people has the YouTube link but Kim Phan has her YouTube also but can't link to her YouTube. Should add her link to YouTube . Thanks
--> Thanks for your query. Must have overlooked! Sorry about that friend. Link added.
What varieties are considered pollinators?
--> Thanks for your question. For pollinators, you could use Sugar Dragon S8 (also considered Universal Pollinator, as it can be used for other varieties), also Lisa, or Vietnam White. Some people mix different varieties pollen to pollinate the species they like. You could also plant different varieties together to let the bees do the job. I hope this helps!
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