Red orange spots on dragon fruit plants are often caused by overwatering or high humidity (beginning of rainy season). The excess moisture attracts a fungus with this long name Botryosphaeria Dothidea & other beetles or insects to the party. But don't worry, this is treatable & sometimes preventable.
If you want to go extreme, try:
- Copper based fungicide
- Sulfur powder
The best time to spray these is immediately as you notice the spots or as the spots are still young. Try alternating between different sprays so the bugs don't develop a resistance against them.
If you want something milder, try:
- Neem oil
- Prune the infected branches off
- Less watering
Spray neem oil around your plants or preferably even before the rainy season starts. If it goes really bad, prune off the infected branches with sterile tools & discard them somewhere far away. Avoid pruning in wet or low-light conditions because it might induce more rots.
Water less & feed the plants less. Dragon fruit is a unique plant that also has air roots. They can take in the moisture & nutrients in the air. With excess food & water, it might be a juicy target for the other guys.
If you want a truly 'do-nothing' kind of way, then just leave your plants alone. Some growers in Okinawa & southern Japan just let the insects and fungi enjoy their feast.
Although their bites will leave ugly scars on the pitaya branches, it is the vascular inner core that is truly essential. If that core is alive, your plants will be alive.
To prevent this, make sure you don't overwater your plants. If rainy season is coming, spray some protective neem oil to keep the bad guys away. Check the soil to see if it is well-draining. Don't overfeed your plants. And if possible, add some friendly microbes in the soil to increase the dragon fruits' good allies communities.
Other perspectives to look at this
The orange spots may be a protective measure that occurs naturally to slow down the growth of the dragon fruit a bit. Maybe there's too much good food in the soil & the plants are growing way too rapidly. From one perspective, this may be nature at work to balance things out. So other things can keep up or co-exist well together.
Some folks believe these spots or the mushy parts oozing out from the branches are a natural phenomenon. This happens to other cactus as well. It's not bacteria or fungi. Basically, the dragon fruits are shedding their skin or leaves–like a snake. As this is seen as normal, there's not much we have to worry about.
(Side note: Here is our small guess. If you check the soil pH around this time, it might be very acidic (around 4). Whereas the good pH for dragon fruit is around 6-7. The sourness in the soil might suggest the increase number of fungal micro-organisms. They are breathing, it smells sour & it's their sour breath. As the acidic water vapor airs out, it might lead to acid rain. Rain pours down & it goes on and on. We got this little idea of the symphony of nature from The Natural Way of Farming (by Masanobu Fukuoka). Need to put this to the test.)
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