Passionfruit grow on vigorous leafy vines that can get quite large and, if grown in the right conditions, are highly productive. The fruit are the main draw but they are nearly eclipsed by the showy, elaborate flowers that hint to passionfruit’s sub tropical tendencies. Passionfruit are a warm weather plant but they can be grown countrywide in areas that get winter frosts if they are given the protection of a greenhouse or conservatory. They are easy to grow in containers like half wine barrels. Passionfruit are often eaten raw with their sweet tangy pulp scooped out by a spoon. They are also good for making into juices, sauces, ice creams, jams, preserves and puddings.
Companions Marjoram, lemon balm, French marigold
Quantity 1 plant per household. May need two for improved pollination.
Black Beauty produces egg-shaped, dark purple fruit with a sweet orange pulp from March to June. Self fertile.
Giant Granadilla produces large orange/yellow egg shaped fruits with a mottled pattern. Fruit have smooth firm skin when ripe. Pulp does look a bit like snot but the taste is exquisitely sweet and tangy. Self fertile.
Plant container grown plants from spring to late summer.
Plant passionfruit in full sun with protection from prevailing winds. In really hot areas they may benefit from partial shade during the middle of the day. Passionfruit vines are ideal grown over a pergola where they will soak up summer sun and offer much needed shade to anyone sitting below. They can be grown through trellis and trained along wires fixed to fences and walls. They are also great for camouflage - grow one over an ugly garden shed.
Passionfruit can be grown in containers such as half barrels and wide pots where their shallow roots can spread. This means you can put them in your sunniest spot – say on a deck or terrace - if your veg garden doesn’t happen to be big on suntraps.
Passionfruit grow in most fertile soils as long as they drain well. If your soil is slightly sticky and you want to improve it, you can add well-rotted compost and grit or fine pumice to make a large mound at the time of planting and continue to mulch with rich compost as your plants get established. You can always grow passionfruit in a raised bed filled with a mixture of sterilized topsoil and well-rotted organic compost if you have a really sticky clay soil.
Space plants at least three strides apart. Soak plants in water before planting them.
Prepare the planting area. Soil should be weed-free and well dug through to at least a full spade’s depth. Add well-rotted compost and peat if necessary and mix with surrounding garden soil. Carefully remove passionfruit plant from container by turning upside down and holding the plant across the base of its stem with a spread hand. Tap the bottom of the container until the plant and its root ball come loose. Handle plants by the root ball to prevent damage to stems and shallow roots. Place passionfruit plant in a hole that is just larger than the container it came in. Back fill around root ball making sure there are no air pockets. Water well and mulch with a finger-thick layer of peat, pine needles, shredded bark or untreated sawdust.
If planting in a container ensure it is large enough. Half barrels and wide rimmed terracotta or glazed pots all look good with passionfruit. Use a rich compost with plenty of organic material and a layer of drainage material beneath it. Add slow release granules or sheep pellets before planting. When passionfruit are grown in containers it pays to put them where you can easily monitor them to ensure soil is moist – particularly in dry weather. Plants are often placed against a wall with trellis on it to which they can be attached or with a metal training pyramid or cylinder standing above the pot.
Keep plants weed free and maintain constant moisture levels – this is especially important in the weeks during which the fruit swell and ripen.
Feed: As long as you maintain a nutrient rich layer of mulch around their base this should give them all they need but to give plants a boost you can feed them with a sprinkling of blood and bone meal around the base of the stem in spring and summer. Container grown plants may need more regular feeding with a constant layer of mulch maintained at all times and a sprinkling of blood and bone meal in spring and summer.
Flowering: Depending on variety, passionfruit vines flower from early spring to early summer. Flowers are pollinated by bees, wasps and ants. Some varieties are self fertile but growing two plants will greatly improve pollination.
Fruit ripen in summer and autumn and sometimes this goes into winter depending on variety. Passionfruit are ready when they have turned from green to a dark brownish purple or orangey yellow – depending on variety. Skin can start to shrivel slightly and appear furrowed. Fruit fall when ripe but its best if you pick them individually by hand from the vine. Snip them off with a short length of stem.
Storage: Fruit continue to ripen when off the vine and sweetness can improve after a week - depending on the readiness of fruit when they were picked. Store them at room temperature. Cutting them across the middle and scooping out the sweet pulp with a spoon is the generally preferred option but where tools are absent you can score the skin with your thumbnail and prize fruit apart in the middle. The delicious pulp can then be squeezed into a hungry mouth.
Pruning is kept to a minimum with dead and diseased stems being cut out. Do any trimming after harvest or in early spring. Plants can get long and spindly with growth all happening some distance away from the roots. To counter this, cut back excessively long stems to stimulate production of fresh new growth.
Passionfruit are relatively trouble free if given the right growing conditions. Scale insects, aphids and passion vine hoppers may have a go at them. Slugs and snails can damage young plants. If soil is not suitably drained then this may open the door to problems like root rot. Tiny worms – nematodes – can attack roots of plants grown in garden soil.