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Growing Passion Fruit: Tips and Information

Passion fruit is a fast growing tropical plant that is fairly easy to grow. Once you have fertile and well aerated soils as well as excellent access to water supply, you can expect to see your passion fruit plants doing very well.

Passionfruit has great nutritional value
Passionfruit has great nutritional value

Passion fruit is a climbing vine and growing passion fruit will need some tender loving care and support for healthy growth and yields in your backyard. Passion fruit is generally a very vigorous plant that grows very fast. Within a very short time, it will have bloomed quickly and created numerous stems and leaves.

Like sweet potatoes, the passion fruit vines will create very large and lobed leaves that sprout out of little tendrils. These tendrils will wrap themselves around whatever form of support that they can find. You will need to provide very good support for these tendrils using various techniques in order to allow them to bloom as naturally as possible.

Passionfruit tendrils
Passionfruit tendrils

Depending on the variety that you have chosen to plant, the fruit can either be purple or yellow and is round in shape. It has a smooth and thick rind and inside, it is filled with an aromatic pulp, seeds and juice. Check the passion fruit above.

Once you have provided a form of support, the passion fruit tendrils will climb up fast and readily and fill up whatever form of support that you have provided them with whether it is walls or fencing.  They will climb high as they can although for practical purposes, it is advised that you nip off the birds so that they can expand sideways.

Passionfruit Vine Trellis Will Provide a Form of Support for Passion fruit plants
Passionfruit Vine Trellis Will Provide a Form of Support for Passion fruit plants

Passion Fruit Varieties

There are various varieties of passion fruit that you can plant in your geographical location. In our passion fruit farming handbook, we have covered the various varieties of passion fruit that you can grow in various locations including what variety to plant in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Kenya, East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, the United States and South America.

In the cooler climates, commercial passion fruit farmers generally use hybrid varieties of the golden and purple passion fruits. These plants are generally better at tolerating the older climatic conditions. However, passion fruit performs best in the tropical climates.

Some of the hybrid passion fruit varieties that you can grow in Australia include Lacey, PurpleGold, Panama and SuperSweet amongst others. Check out our passion fruit guide PDF copy for your country for information on the right variety of passion fruit to grow in your country along with information on their characteristics.

Yellow Passion Fruit Variety
Yellow Passion Fruit Variety

You will notice that there are certain varieties that are better suited for the tropical climates such as the flavicarpa passion fruit varieties. For cooler climates, you will be better off with the purple passion fruits or some of the hybrid cultivars varieties. All these varieties and their characteristics are covered in our passion fruit farming handbook.

Important Things to Keep in Mind When Growing Passion Fruit

They need lots of nutrients: Passion fruit plants grow very fast and, therefore, need an abundant supply of nutrients in order to support that growth. You will notice that your passion fruit plants have a very lush foliage within a very short time and that must come from somewhere. Without adequate water and nutrients supply, your passion fruit plants might reach maturity and still not produce any fruit. Growing passion fruit vines will require fertile soils and additional fertilizers, preferably the compost manure type. However, don’t overuse the fertilizers otherwise you might prevent or delay the formation of the fruits.

Passion fruits require lots of sunshine: For the best performance, growing passion fruit requires lots of access to sunshine, a warm climate as well as adequate protection from windy conditions. An ideal planting area for your passion fruit is a sunny and sheltered site that is also free from frosty conditions. Some purple varieties of passion fruit can handle mildly frosty conditions. While frost may kill the top of the vines, the roots generally reshoot but passion fruits grow excellently in warmer conditions.

Support: Because the passion fruit tendrils are very long and thin, they will need something that they can climb over. This can be a wall, fence or even poles.

Support System for Giant Passion Fruits in the Philippines
Support System for Giant Passion Fruits in the Philippines

The root systems are vulnerable: The root network of passion fruit is generally quite vulnerable. The best soil for growing passion fruits is generally a healthy soil with lots of worms, microbes as well as various organic matter.  If you grow passion fruit in poor soils, they are likely to wilt, experience root rot or be susceptible to nematodes. Heavy clay soils, for example, are generally not ideal for passion fruit growing.

Watering passion fruit: When growing passion fruit, it is important to ensure that the plants are well watered. Passion fruit is a large plant and is supported by a very small root system. The roots will not dig deeper like those of the other trees. You, therefore, need to supplement their water requirements by making sure that the plant is well watered. Water is especially important when the plants are fruiting. While passion fruit plants need plenty of water, they cannot handle soils that are waterlogged so water them sparingly like you would water your vegetable gardens. The site where you are growing passion fruit should also be one that drains easily.

How to Grow the Passion Fruit Seeds

Buying passion fruit vines is generally costly so some farmers prefer to grow the passion  fruit plants from the seeds in order to cut down on costs. However, when you are growing from the seeds, it is important to ensure that the seeds are fresh. You can purchase seeds from the store you can harvest seeds from the fruit itself and plant them as soon as possible. The seeds will generally take anywhere from 10 to 20 days in order to germinate. On the other hand, the older passion fruit seeds generally take a little longer in order to germinate.

Disadvantages of Planting Passion Fruit Seeds

Even though it is a cheaper option of growing passion fruit, there are many disadvantages associated with planting your passion fruit from the seeds. It is not an efficient way to grow your passion fruits because many of the seeds will not even germinate in the first place.

If you are planting seeds for hybrid passion fruit varieties, they not even grow to type as you would expect. In many cases, you will be planting the passion fruit seeds and you will not even be sure about the kind of outcome that you will get.

Another good reason not to grow passion fruit seeds yourself is that some of the passion fruit varieties are highly susceptible to various forms of root diseases such as the Fusarium wilt. If this is a problem in your kind of soil and you live in a cool climate, then you will be better off with the grafted passion fruit plants. If you live in the tropics, then you are likely safer as the tropical passion fruit plants are generally less susceptible to the Fusarium wilt and are also fairly well resistant to the nematodes.

Passion Fruit Propagation

 Passion fruits can be propagated by planting the passion fruit seeds, through grafting on a resistant root stock and via cuttings. The most vigorous propagation techniques are via seeds and grafting. Here is a look at the various propagation techniques:-

Passion Fruit Seed Propagation

The passion fruit seeds should be collected from superior vines based on the quality and the yield. Extract the pulp and allow it to ferment for 72 hours and then extract the passion fruit seeds. Sow the seeds in seed beds that have been well prepared in advance.

Passion Fruit Seed Propagation
Passion Fruit Seed Propagation

Once the seeds have sprouted and attained four to six leaves, you can transplant them from the seed beds to smaller polybags that that contain a mixture of soil, sand and compost. Leave them here for a duration of three months after which they will be ready for transplanting in the main field or garden area.

Passion Fruit Vegetative Propagation

The best cuttings are the semi-hardwood type with a size of 30 to 35cm and with three to four nodes. These make for ideal cuttings.  Put these cuttings in the pots or sand beds for root initiation and then transfer them to the polybags where they can undergo proper root development. After a duration of three months, these rooted cuttings can then be replanted.  The main issue with the vegetative propagation is that it is quite time consuming and not very popular with many farmers.

Spacing and Planting Your Passion Fruits

The kind of spacing to leave will depend on the type of training system that you are planning to adopt as well as the variety of passion fruit that you are planting. If you are planting your passion fruits in a bower system, you can have a 3m by 3m spacing that will accommodate up to 1110 plants per hectare. On the other hand, for a Kniffin training system, a spacing of 2m by 3m would be ideal. This will accommodate up to 1666 plants per hectare.

Passion Fruit Plants
Passion Fruit Plants

Land Preparation

Avoid planting the passion fruits in areas that experience stronger winds. A sheltered site is generally more ideal. Strong wind will damage the passion fruit vines and have a negative impact on your yield but they may also make training your passion fruit a bit difficult. Prepare planting pits that you have filled with a top soil and compost. Do your passion fruit planting on cloudy days at the onset of rains. In India, the best planting time is in the months of May to June at the onset of monsoon rains. In the first five to six months, you can intercrop the passion fruits with seasonal vegetables such as ginger and turmeric.

Passion Fruit Seedlings Grown in Pots
Passion Fruit Seedlings Grown in Pots