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Passionfruit

Passionfruit is a delicious fruit that is easy and rewarding to grow and highly productive. These evergreen vines are prolific fruiters with most fruit production in warm weather particularly from summer to early autumn. Ripe fruit may colour and fall to the ground. Over ripe fruit may develop a shriveled skin. Tasting fruit is a good way to determine ripeness.

As well as the popular black passionfruit including the self-fertile variety ‘Nellie Kelly’, which grows in all but the coldest zones, there are other types including ‘Panama Gold’, ‘Panama Red’, ‘Pandora’ and granadilla, which are best suited to warm climates. These warm climate passionfruit types may need cross pollination for fruit formation (plant two vines). Check pollination requirements with your local hardware or garden centres. Banana passionfruit, which were the favoured passionfruit for cold zones, are now considered weedy and should not be planted.

Passionfruit are usually sold as grafted potted plants. Grafting makes the vine more tolerant of poor soil and cooler climate conditions.

Plant passionfruit vines at any time (but avoid extremely hot or cold conditions). At planting time and to reduce transplant stress, water with Seasol or Seasol GOLD. Before planting improve soil by digging in well-rotted manure or compost or for a no dig option use Seasol Liquid Compost.

Train passionfruit vines against a vertical surface such as a wall or fence. Vines may need to be replaced every five years as they become less productive

Growing conditions

Aspect All passionfruit vines need a bright, sunny location with shelter from strong winds. Ideally they should have sun from the morning onwards but can tolerate a little afternoon shade especially in summer and should be protected from cold and frost.

Soil Passionfruit grow in a wide range of soils but grow best with good drainage in deep, fertile soils. Keep soil well mulched.

Climate Passionfruit does best in warm, frost-free climates where fruiting usually occurs within six months of planting but vines can take up to 18 months in cold temperate zones to produce fruit. Some varieties require a subtropical to tropical climate to grow well.

General care

Watering Adequate and regular watering is critical for fruit formation and development. Lack of water can lead to loss of flowers or fruit. Deep water at least weekly especially when plants are in new growth, flowering or fruiting. Water more frequently if plants are in hot, dry or exposed conditions or if they are growing in containers. If water is pooling on top of the soil or running off, then it could be hydrophobic – repelling water. Apply Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner to the soil to ensure water goes to where it is needed, the plant’s root system.

Feeding and mulching Feed every season during the growing season (in spring summer, autumn) with a complete fertiliser for fruiting plants such as Seasol plus Nutrients Fruit & Citrus. Passionfruit vines have extensive root systems so feed along the entire root area, not just at the base of the stem.

In addition apply a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Fruit & Citrus every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season for a bumper crop of tasty passionfruit. Plants in containers can be liquid fed every 2 to 4 weeks as above, while they are growing (spring to autumn).

Protect the area of soil under the vine with a 5-7cm layer of coarse organic mulch enriched with well-rotted manure, which helps keep the soil evenly moist and weed free, and keep nearby grass well mown. Avoid disturbing the roots of grafted plants as this can lead to suckering.

Pruning Passionfruit need little pruning other than managing heavy or tangled growth and removing suckers from grafted plants. The best time to prune is in early spring. Vines may also need light pruning in summer to allow more air and light into the vine to assist ripening.

Watch out The main pests of passionfruit vines are passionfruit leaf hoppers (also known as fluffy bums), rats and possums. Cold conditions can stop fruit ripening especially in autumn. A lack of pollinators during flowering may slow fruit formation. In this situation, hand-pollinate flowers (transfer pollen to a receptive stigma with a paintbrush or cotton bud). Woodiness of passionfruit is a virus disease that causes woody fruit – remove affected vines.