If you are growing dragon fruit plants you may notice that they can be susceptible to a number of diseases and fungus, along with sensitivities to environmental conditions which all impact on the health of your Dragon Fruit Plant. We cover a lot of different diseases and cures throughout our posts, but this one will focus on the orange spots and how to treat them.
The red or orange spots on dragon fruit plants are a fungus, called Botryosphaeria Dothidea, that is attracted to the dragon fruit plant if the weather is very humid or the plant is overwatered. It is treated with copper fungicide and can be prevented by ensuring the plant is not overwatered and applying some Neem oil.
It can also be sunburn on the plant which can be prevented by ensuring the plant is in a shaded location out of direct sunlight.
We will consider the sunburn reason first and also some new information that may change our thinking on why this may not be an option.
They look a bit like rust spots and if treated early on, can be prevented from spreading and infecting other parts of the plant.
Its more prevalent on the younger growth or newer shoots and less on the older more established parts of the plant.
What is Dragon Fruit Plant Sunburn and Is It A Myth?
So, let’s start with the theory of sunburn and why it might be causing the red orange rust like spots on your dragon fruit plant.
If it rains at night and little droplets or beads of water accumulates on the leaves. If they remain on the plant until the morning when the sun begins to shine, they act much like a magnifying glass, to accentuate the suns rays onto the young leaf, burning it.
It has been noticed that the leaves that are directly facing the sun, such as the top part of the leaf can be affected, whereas the underneath of the leaf, where it is not getting sunlight, there are no orange spots or burns.
Suggesting again that it might be due to sunburn. The newer shoots are more delicate and sensitive so will burn more easily. Much like a baby burns more easily than a grown adult when subjected to the suns light during a hot day.
Sometimes the plant can shake it off and just grow through it, but at other times the burns may be too severe for the young shoot to recover from. If that’s is the case, and the shoot is ruined, you will have to cut it off.
As a word of caution, and we will discuss this later and in other articles relating to Dragon Fruit Diseases, whenever you are using a knife or cutting tool to prune or remove shoots, always sterilize the tools before using on any different part of the plant or plants. If the plant has a fungus then sterilizing will ensure you don’t spread the disease to other plants or parts of the same plant.
A simple way to sterilize your tools is to boil them in very hot water before using or to have some rubbing alcohol like isopropyl alcohol that you can dip the blades of the tools into between each cut or prune.
If direct sunlight is causing the burns resulting in the orange spots then definitely do not water the plants leaves or shoots early in the morning. Try to leave the watering till the evening when the sun is not so hot.
We mentioned in the title of this section the question: Is it a Myth? New information by Dr Karl investigates the physics of plants and water, on ABC science, suggests that sunburn on plants is a myth.
He writes: “Dr Adam Egri and colleagues from Hungary and Germany carried out both computer modelling, and tests, on real leaves. In their experiments, they used both little glass balls and water droplets…….the more spherical water droplets on the water-hating leaves did concentrate the heat better, but not enough to scorch the leaf. So sunlight shining through water droplets doesn’t burn smooth leaves.” *
Another factor to consider is that I have dragon fruit plants that I keep in 100% shade to let them grow a strong and robust root system before I move them. Some of those dragon fruit plants get those orange spots as well.
So what could be another reason for the orange spots?
Fungus Causing Dragon Fruit Plant Orange Spots – Treatment Methods
The most likely reason for the orange spots is fungal rust which is more prevalent when the dragon fruit plants are under stress due to the climate (either too hot or cold) or when your dragon fruit plants are not getting the correct nutrition.
Dragon fruit plants tend to grow incredibly fast and they are native to the Amazon jungles rich fertile soils.
They need a lot of food and nutrition to stay healthy and support the fast growth. Most people who grow dragon fruit are not giving their plants enough nutrition.
If your dragon fruits are yellowing along with the spots then they are magnesium deficient.
To treat them you will need to give them some Epsom salts, about half a handful per plant, do that about 3 times with a few days apart and your dragon fruit plants should begin to green up.
The sunlight will tend to break down the dragon fruit plants chlorophyll and it will need extra magnesium to replace it.
If your dragon fruit plant is hungry for magnesium then you can be sure that it will probably also be hungry for other micro and macro nutrients. Once the colour of your plant has returned suggesting that the magnesium is no longer in shortage, then you should give the plants some additional potassium and phosphorous.
Allow your dragon fruit plants a few days to absorb these nutrients then try applying some calcium (not too much).
All of these added nutrients will help your dragon fruit plants produce much thicker cell walls. As a result, the thicker cell walls resist fungal infection.
These methods will strengthen your plant against infections and orange spots should disappear.
Plants need proper nutrition to stay healthy, just like humans, and with soils depleted of nutrients, they don’t have the strength to fight fungus infection and other diseases.
If you are having trouble getting rid of the fungus infection still then We have had some success using copper, mancozeb and metalaxyl sprays. Sprayed one of each chemical at weekly intervals.
But I would rather use the methods above to strengthen the plants natural defensive mechanisms to fight the fungus infection.
So in conclusion the orange spots are probably due to nutrition deficiencies resulting in fungus infection.
The three ways to treat orange spots on your dragon fruit plants are:
- Improve the plants’ health and nutrition through magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and a little calcium
- Don’t overwater and make sure the plant has good drainage to prevent the plant from getting too waterlogged encouraging fungus growth. Make sure the plant is not stressed.
- For stubborn fungal infections use some copper fungicide spray to kill the infection.
If you do these three treatments you should see the Dragon Fruit Plant Orange spots disappearing.
For those parts of the plant that are far too damaged to recover you will need to remove them by pruning them out.
Just remember to sterilize your tools before and after each prune of the plant to prevent cross-infection.
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