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  • Dragon fruit trellis advice

    Hey fig bosses, I need some advice for growing dragonfruits in a pot.

    Most trellis designs have a post in the middle of the pot, and the dragonfruit is trained up the post as a single leader, by tying it to the post. Once it reaches the top, it is allowed to branch out and hang over some circular or rectangular material attached to the top of the post.

    The easiest way to do it, as I've seen is to use a tomato cage for the dragonfruit to rest on and hang over at the top. With a post in the middle as mentioned earlier.

    My question is:

    If I use lumber for my post, won't it eventually rot (don't know how long), but dragon fruit is not like a fig tree where you can take it out of the pot. So something permanent seems more ideal.

    Do you guys think using PVC for my post would be a good choice? Or do you guys have any better ideas?
    Last edited by ieatfigs; 07-26-2021, 03:18 PM.
    GA, 7b

  • #2
    If you want something a little sturdier and a bit more permanent, consider using a cattle panel as an alternative to the tomato cage. The cattle panel can be shaped to be circular and be contained inside of the pot without rotting. It would also be stronger than the tomato cage. As an alternative for the wooden post in the middle, consider using a T-post.


    • #3
      I've decided to use PVC for my dragon fruit trellis' going forward. Had a mass planting along an East facing fence that grew out of control, took me months to pull it all out. Now I'll be planting them in 10 gal squat pots (the roots are shallow, and a wider pot is better than taller, plus a wider, shorter base is less likely to tip over).

      First, I am using the grey PVC that is used as electrical conduit, not the white PVC that is used for water piping. The white is meant to be buried underground, while the grey is rated for above ground use. The grey has better UV resistance, eventually the white PVC will become brittle if exposed to direct sunlight. For the post, I am using 2" schedule 40 tubing. I've decided that this should be stiff enough for the relatively small height I will be using (5 to 6' post). I you are going taller, I would recommend using a larger diameter tubing.

      For the cross pieces, I am using 1/2" schedule 40 PVC, with 3/8" rebar inside (for the top cross) for stiffness. Holes will be drilled in the top and bottom of the post and the 1/2" tubing inserted and glued in place. Caps will be placed on the ends of the top cross to keep water from entering and rusting out the steel rebar. Cross pieces will be placed on the bottom of the post as well, with holes drilled in the sides of the pots so that the 1/2" PVC will be passing through the bottom sides of the pots as well as the post. This, once the pot is filled with soil, will help create some resistance to the weight of the dragon fruit vines from pulling the post over and causing it to fall. To keep the entire pot from falling over (due to unbalanced weight or heavy wind), you can anchor it in place by drilling two holes on opposite sides of the bottom of the pot and driving two pieces of rebar along the sided of the pot and into the ground. Leave a section of the rebar exposed so you can remove these stabilizing posts in case you ever need to move the pot.

      Be careful using a tomato cage for the vines to rest on. First, if it is metal, it will heat up in the sun and burn the vines that are resting on it. Second, you don't want the vines to be supported by any thin support material. The flesh of the vines is relatively soft, and they get to be fairly heavy, so the thin support will end up digging into the flesh of the vine that is bent over it and they can end up breaking when bent over a thin support. You will want to put some kind of larger diameter padding material on the top edge of your cage to give proper support for the vines to rest upon.

      I'll be wrapping the PVC post in burlap when I put it in the pots. Dragon fruit will put out air roots (they are climbing wines and use these roots as support at they climb). Yes, the burlap will eventually degrade, but by that time the air roots will have grown around the post and will hold the vine firmly in place against the post.
      Richard - San Diego 10a


      • ieatfigs
        ieatfigs commented
        Editing a comment
        Excellent point regarding the thin support cutting into the dragonfruit. I hadn't thought of that.

        Sorry what is the burlap for?

    • #4
      Here are the dragon fruit cages that my husband built for me with PVC. Works great and I have different levels for the plant as support. I also used burlap on my center post for the roots to grab and to hold moisture.
      Attached Files
      Palm Beach County, South Florida - 10B
      Hunt, Del Sen Jaume Gran, Izmir Not


      • #5
        If you do not want to go tall, I've seen a bunch locally that have a short 1.5-3' trellis. These usually do not have a center support post but four legs supporting a lumber square. A 7-10 gal pot provides a little additional height as the vine grows up through the center and flops over the trellis. Instead of a single vine, they let the DF sprout as many trunks as it wants. The benefits to this are a lower initial cost (smaller lumber pieces only) and almost no chance of the pot tipping over as the center of gravity is much lower. This goes back to the fig tree vs bush form.

        I have not tried this myself, but I'm considering it as I do not want to clutter up my back patio with a bunch of really tall pot/center trellis contraptions.
        Jason. San Diego, CA - Zone 10A WL: Boysenberry Blush


        • Figland
          Figland commented
          Editing a comment
          Just make sure there are no squirrels and rats lurking to get your plant. They eat flowers, new vines, green fruit, ripe fruit, etc. That is the reason we have such tall ones. We still have to wire up some of the fruit and put those pot "shields" around the posts. Before we figured that out we had complete destruction of the crop. I would love to have a "wall" of dragon fruit, but unless we get the rodents under control, it won't happen here, and we have daily hawk, owl, coyote visits to help cull them, still too many.critters!

        • JCT
          JCT commented
          Editing a comment
          Figland - No squirrels (yet) and the rats have been more interested in the figs. I do have a fairly big 10-15' vine growing out a quart pot (yep!) that sprawls all over the ground. It's amazingly flowered a couple of times, despite the neglect, and has produced a couple of fruit. However as the vines are on the ground, the slugs/snails/ants got to one of the fruit.

        • DrDraconian
          DrDraconian commented
          Editing a comment
          I was always a bit surprised, with the big problem I have with rats eating my figs, pomegranates, persimmons, tomatoes, even oranges, I don't recall even one time the rats ever touched one of my dragon fruit. Even when the were left on the vine too long and would split open, the rats didn't go for them. I know for a fact they were crawling over and through the vines, but they never touched the fruit.

      • #6
        Great info you all. Here in TN I have three, that are out of control.


        • #7
          We built trellis based on this video

          Next time we will need to try to use pvc.
          Central Florida 9b
          WL: green figs with berry flavor.


          • #8
            One way to make lumber more durable is to put the posts into a cement base. That way it will not rot as easily. If you put your posts outside your pot so it stays dry it will also last a lot longer. We have trellis systems that have been in place for over 5 years. Some commercial growers use wire stretched over the posts ( the same ones used for chain link fences) or thoise used for grape vines that can be adjusted for tension. They use a system like JCT describes which is more of a wall of plant. It is very sturdy. You have to make sure you have a strategy for rodents, though. If you have gophers they will still take out your plants if you don't figure out ways to protect them. Squirrels can also ruin the roots of your dragon fruit and eat the plant.

            Don't be afraid to prune them to help you keep the fruit where you want it and distribute the weight on your support system, whatever you choose.
            Valley Center, Ca 9b
            Rancho Los Serranos Organic Farm


            • JCT
              JCT commented
              Editing a comment
              I love his videos! I based my trellis off of this video (but not as nicely executed as he did.)

            • Figland
              Figland commented
              Editing a comment
              The other thing you have to think about is how long you want the trellis in the ground. I'm not convinced that PVC can hold the weight over the years I expect it to be in the ground, we've had some blown over by 80 mile winds, and wood can rot, but outside of steel posts I don't think I see anything that will work for us outside of wood. We have over 300 in the ground, it's a pricey calculation to use anything else. I think with hawks and owls landing on the trellis ( they do here often) and rodents climbing and coyotes jumping on them, wood is probably going to be our lowest cost and strongest bet, I hope the PVC works for everyone who uses it!

          • #9
            In Miami we tried the cheap plastic posts made for electric fences, was OK. Than we discovered LOWES has treated wood 1x2 8 feet tall family uses today ones used are selected for no knots and close tight grain so far zero snapping off/rot. price 2.35 each.
            Z8A NC SANDHILLS