Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mickey's Mini Garden, The Dragon Fruit Souvenir

In all the years of going to Walt Disney World parks probably one of the best souvenirs that we've ever taken away has to be something that's actually alive and still is after three years.  What I'm referring to is the Dragon Fruit plant that my son Quinn used some of his souvenir money for at the Land in Epcot.

Right across from the travel desk at the entrance to Soarin' is a small store kiosk.  They always have these really cool clear boxes of what looks like clear gel with a little small plants sprout, that is for sale.  Each plant is cloned from one original plant behind the scenes in the Land building.  Each one goes for about $10.00, at least at the time we bought it, and there were a lot of varieties.  Most of these plants are found in the greenhouse.  They have a binder at the counter that has each of the plants that are for sale on an info sheet so you can get details before you buy your plant.  Quinn really liked the idea of the  dragon fruit plant, so that's what he got. 
One time when we were on the tour of the greenhouse we saw how they created the cloned plants to use for these cool "Mini-Gardens".  The one of the container is a borrowed pic to show what it looks like.  Our pic did not make it due to a bad camera at the time.  Thanks to the Main Street Gazette.
Another good side effect of the nutrition gel that's packed around the plant fragment is that it gives you some time until you need to transplant the plant.  We did not actually transplant it until about three months later.  It survived fine.  Quinn did the transplanting and I watched and all seemed well and the plant took off from the beginning.  It's a really weird plant in that it grows in a lot of different ways and kind of reminds me of an Aloe Vera plant.  We follow the directions, indirect sunlight, water, fertilizer and after a year and 1/2 it was about four or 5 inches tall with three or four off shoots.
Last year we went back to WDW and went on the tour of the greenhouse in the Land again.  Quinn had taken pictures of his plant on his phone and brought them with us.(Could not find them for this post, will keep looking)  In the course of the tour, because he had told our tour guide and showed him the pictures he made it a point two crossed paths with the Cast Member that was responsible for creating those souvenirs.  Quinn was very proud to show her his pictures of the dragon fruit plant.  She actually seemed impressed and then went further to say that most people's plants don't really last more than a year.  She were really made Quinn's day with that comment.

So it's a little over three years later since we've planted the dragon fruit plant and it has grown incredibly.  Unfortunately it has grown horizontally and we're still trying to figure out how to keep it in check.  It seems very fragile where the branches connect so we try not to move it around too much and that's why it has gotten a little out of control.  The girl at Epcot told us that once we make it 5 years the plant should begin to flower.  Once it does then we need to do some research about self pollinating so the plant can eventually grow fruit.

Just to give you an idea of what a dragon fruit, fruit looks like, here is one we got at the store the other day and as for the taste and consistency goes, it tastes like a pear and felt like eating a kiwi.  A very good experience all around.  We discovered the secret of eating kiwi this year and that you cut it in half and use a spoon to spoon out the fruit.  No more messy peeling of the kiwi.  Same process worked well for the dragon fruit.  We can't wait until our plant gives us fruit like this.  Although I am not holding my breath. 

Have you ever bought a Mickey's Mini-Garden while at WDW?  If so please leave a comment and let me know how it went the last time we were down, a much sure if it was that they were just out of them, but there were no fruit plants and I can't remember the exact name, but it was a fern that the leaves closed when you touched it.  Very cool.  So let us know if you tried any of the plants.