If the dragon fruit flowers fall off but the fruit has started to set, then it is in its normal cycle. If the flowers fall off without the fruit setting, then there may be some issues regarding the young shoots or the roots.
Let's check out some reasons and solutions together:
Check for small shoots
As the dragon fruit reaches the flowering stage, if you notice some small little branches still shooting out, this may suggest an excess amount of nitrogen in the soil. The little shoot-outs look something like this:
These small shoots suck up nutrients from the flowers' intake. In some cases, they make the flowers smaller & drop off. If you look at the flowering pitahaya trees, they don't usually have these little "bunny ears". If that's the case, it may not be a good sign.
A possible solution is to cut off these little guys. And if you're fertilizing the plants, try to reduce the amount of nitrogen.
Also, in some cases that flowers drop, we might want to:
Look out for rain
Rain, with its high humidity, can be an invite for fungi & insects to come party along. If your plants have some excess food (with the high nutrients in the rain), then they may be a more yummy target. Rain + overwatering can cause flower dropping & fruit cracking.
Check the fallen flowers if they have some mushy, black stuff inside and around. Does it smell a bit off? Many times the rainwater can get into the flower, causing it to rot & eventually fall off.
To protect the flowers from rotting, growers actually pull the flowers off 3-4 days after they bloom. The pulled off flowers (if not infected) are thrown around the plants as mulch. If they have been slightly rotted, they take it far away from the growing area.
Sometimes, growers intentionally pick the flowers early. On some mountainous areas, people use the flowers as garnish or to make salads. Dried dragon fruit flowers also make good tea. To know if flowers are good to pick, check for this line in the picture below. It's the line between the green vs yellow parts.
Then, you can pull the flower off:
Grafting Dragon Fruit has a good video on removing dragon fruit flowers:How to remove dragon fruit flowers
Also, you can:
Check the roots
Nematodes in the roots create the pathway for other fungi to come in:
The string roots in the picture have just sprouted out but are already blackened:
This may suggest some problems of:
If the plants are overfed with chemical fertilizers, you might notice the hardening of the soil. These chemical elements tend to heat up the growing medium & sometimes burn the roots as water evaporates out. When the roots are weakened, water & nutrients may not get transported up to nourish flowers & fruits.
The clay then compacts and limits air flow in and out the roots. As a result, flowers may fall. We can see an example of hardened clayey soil like this one here:
Also, to understand why dragon fruit flowers fall, we'd like to ask how old are your plants:
The age of the dragon fruit plant
A pitaya grower in Riverside told us that in the first 1 or 2 years, his plants had flowers but they fell off & the plants produced no fruits at all. According to his experience, this may be because the plant is still young. From year 3 & on, it began to put out fruits.
So one reason for this is the young age of your plants. Or they may have not matured enough to fruit so the mother branches abort the flower to save the plants. In this case, may be we can just give it some more time.
Lastly, to save the plants
To make your dragon fruit plants more resilient, remember don't overwater and don't overfeed. Cut off the small shoots to focus all the energy on the flowers. And look out for rain that could damage the flowers.
Hopefully, this brief post has given you some ideas to stay on top of the situation. The plants will bloom & fruit when it's time. Keep on growing this awesome plant & keep the dragon's last fireball (aka the dragon fruit) growing.
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