The pitaya is one of my favourite fruit, so when I saw a (rather expensive) plant at my local farmers’ market this spring, I had to give it a try – even if I am doubtful that it will survive the winters here in the mountains of central Portugal (USDA zone ~9b or probably 10 nowadays).
I planted it in an area of full sun, and will cover it in the winter – initially with a small tent-style “greenhouse”, but the plan is to build a more permanent structure as it get bigger / if it survives the first winter. It was planted in mid April, and so far it’s doing pretty well, but I have a few questions… hopefully someone here has some experience with these strange cacti!
How it started…
…how it’s going
First, I struggle to know how much to water it. It’s been an very hot dry summer (worst drought in 500 years I believe…) and I’ve been watering all my fruit trees quite deeply every 2-3 days. At first I was doing the same with the dragon, and it did grow nicely, but also several of the stems developed rotten patches – see below – so I reduced the amount of water to about half or less of what I’m giving the trees. It seemed to be an improvement, but maybe a coincidence? (Now the rain has started – though who knows if it’s here to stay – so I’m not watering for the moment.)
Second, those rotten patches… a couple of the smaller stems (if that’s the right term) rotted completely, and several others have rotten patches (see photos) which I assume will spread and also what appears to be some fungal damage.
What is the cause of this – could it be overwatering? And is there any way to stop them spreading…?
The stem in the last photo was the tallest when I bought the plant, but it didn’t grow at all during the summer.
Third, I’m not sure what to do about pruning… I have a couple of “main” (longer) stems that I’m tying up to a post – one of them doing really nicely – and a lot of other short bits growing around the bottom. I assume I should cut of some or most of the bottom growth, to encourage the plant to grow up into the taller bits?
Finally, I was wondering about growing some more plants from cuttings. Any tips here? If it’s like other cacti, I assume I could cut off a few whole stems/lobes and just put them in a pot of compost. Anything I should to to improve the chances of them taking?
Oh and also, any tips on protecting from cold weather (and just how could it can tolerate) would also be useful.
I should note that I have no idea what cultivar this plant is.
Thanks in advance for any tips!