How to pollinate dragon fruit

Dragon Fruit Plants 12 May 2020

Some varieties of dragon fruit may need the help of hand pollination to set fruits or get good yields. If well done, hand-pollinated dragon fruits may get bigger sizes than bee-pollinated ones. Growers have had good results with this, so let's check it out.

Collect the pollen

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Collected dragon fruit pollen | Source

Dragon fruit flowers usually open at 8 pm at night & close at 8 am the next morning.

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Dragon fruit flower at 8:30 pm

To collect the pollen, you can use:

  • A glass jar
  • Nylon paint screen bags
  • Scissors
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If you use the scissors, cut off the anthers (the strings with the pollen). Then, put them in your glass jar. If you store the pollen in the fridge, it can be good for up to 5 days of use.

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Storing pollen in glass jars for future use | Source

If you use the screen bag, wrap it around the flowers. Then, shake the flowers so the pollen fall off & into the bag. You can collect thousands in a few hours. Or use a vacuum cleaner. It's a bit noisy but it gets the job done if you have lots of plants.

A head lamp might be useful because you may be collecting these pollen late in the day when the flowers bloom. The cool thing is dragon fruit flowers last usually only one night.

Most don't bloom at the same time on the tree. The blooming window can be about 4-5 days. The Lisa variety has a shorter bloom window than the Sugar Dragon. You can use the pollen collected earlier to pollinate the ones that bloom later.

Pollinate

With your fresh pollen, you can pollinate the dragon fruit using a paintbrush. Dip the brush into the glass jar or bag of pollen. It should have some yellow powdery stuff on the tip. Then, gently dab the brush on the stigma (the receiving female) of the flowers.

Before 9 am the next day is a good time to do it. Some commercial growers have had good success with this timing. Alternatively, you can skip a step of storing the pollen by pulling the anthers off & rub them gently on the stigma directly.

Check out the pollination of Connie Mayer red flowers which mostly need some help of hand pollination:

Some tips

Usually folks get better results when they:

  • Cross pollinate different varieties
  • Freeze the pollen

Freezing the pollen is still quite controversial. Edgar Valdivia, the dragon fruit master, believes that keeping them cool is enough for viability. He doesn't advise freezing. Other folks have good results when pollen are frozen. You may experiment a bit with this.

Check out this awesome pollination video instructed by Edgar himself:

People often pollinate:

  • White x pink/red
  • Pink/red x white
  • Experimental: yellow x white/red/pink
Father Mother Offspring
Asunta 4 Tricia Asunta 5

The Asunta 5 is just too beautiful:

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They're improving little by little to make this self fertile | Source

Why do the pollinated flowers turn yellow & fall off?

This may happen because we are pollinating on the same variety. The flowers don't take in that pollen & thus no fruit is formed. Doing cross pollination between different varieties will give you better results.

Pollinating with the same specie is not impossible. This guy has done it here with a red flesh dragon fruit variety. It took 3 years to get the first fruit:

Good luck!

Hand pollinating is a fun & rewarding process. Ha, so this is what it's like to be doing the job of a bee. Good luck.

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