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Passion fruit is a very attractive, often tropical-looking, vigorous climber that bears masses of unusual, colourful flowers and delicious fruits.

What you need to know about passion fruit

Name: passion fruit, Passiflora sp., most popular is the black passion fruit, P. edulis cvrs.

Plant type: evergreen climber

Height: variable

Foliage: generally glossy green, variable leaf forms.

Climate: tropical and sub-tropical, suitably warm positions in warm temperate and only the warmest, sheltered location in cool temperate.

Soil: rich soil with free drainage is essential.

Position: warm, sunny location. Must be frost free.

Flowering and fruiting: large, often colourful and perfumed flowers have an instantly recognisable form. Flowers usually appear from spring onwards as days grow longer. Fruit follows.

Feeding: requires regular feeding.

Watering: must be well watered, but will not tolerate being wet or waterlogging.

Appearance and characteristics of passion fruit

The passion fruit is a truly multi-purpose plant. It is a vigorous tendril climber—the tendrils are those little “springs” you’ll notice beside the leaves—that will cover all manner of problem surfaces such as wire fences or arbours with minimal input required. Then it bears an abundance of often fragrant and distinctive flowers that, if all goes well, will become a crop of incredibly delicious fruit. What’s not to love?

Passion fruit comes in a range of foliage forms, sizes and patterns, but the most commonly seen is the glossy, three-lobed leaf forms. Foliage is very densely held, and in adequate sun the plant will retain good cover low down.

Passion fruit vines only remain productive for around 5–7 years. Add a new vine every 4 or so years to keep fruit production up.

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Uses for passion fruit

Passion fruit can be grown for many uses, including:

  • Quick coverage of suitable areas
  • Adding a tropical look fast
  • Great flowering display
  • Excellent fruiting plant.

How to plant and grow passion fruit

There is some variation in the conditions required by the various varieties, however the rough rules of green-thumb are:

  • Full sun, especially in cooler climates. In hot zones, protection from afternoon sun may be helpful.
  • Warm and sheltered position. This is especially essential in cooler areas.
  • Protection from strong and cold winds.
  • Must have adequate room and support.
  • Soil should be rich and very free-draining. Passion fruit plants can die virtually overnight if too wet.
  • Mulch well and avoid any root disturbance.

Planting tips

  • Wet soil and soil lacking in nutrients are the worst enemies of the passion fruit plant.
  • Ensure soil has excellent drainage, and that the site chosen doesn’t ever get waterlogged. If drainage is poor or soil is clay-based, create a large planting mound or plant in a raised garden bed.
  • Improve soil a week or two before planting. Only use a quality soil improver, well-composted, not fresh, manure, or well broken-down compost.
  • Passion fruit requires support that tendrils can easily attach to. They will readily grab wire that is run along fences or walls, or between posts.
  • Avoid disturbing roots when planting.
  • Fertilise with a quality controlled-release fertiliser.
  • Mulch well after planting, but don’t push mulch against the stems; keep at least 5cm clear.

Caring for passion fruit

For best results, follow these tips to care for your passion fruit:

  • Keep an eye on any shoots in case they head off into surrounding trees or shrubs. Just trim them off.
  • Regular applications of liquid seaweed and liquid fertiliser will improve growth, flowering and fruiting.
  • Ensure your plant is adequately watered during flowering and fruit development. If it is allowed to become dry while fruit is forming, it will often drop the fruit.
  • Many store-bought passion fruit plants are grafted. This makes them more robust and reliable, but sometimes the rootstock, the variety your plant is grafted onto, can start to shoot. Remove any shoots that appear below the graft. These will be noticeable, as the foliage will be different to your plant.
  • Avoid any root disturbance or digging around the plant, as broken roots can send out under-stock shoots.

Pruning passion fruit vines

In frost-free zones, prune after the main fruiting period. In all other zones, prune no later than late winter or early spring. Remove older growth, tangled-up growth and end tips to encourage bushiness. As flowers and fruit are produced on new season’s growth, pruning isn’t necessary, but it does improve fruit production.

Diseases and pests affecting passion fruit

Most problems with passion fruit will be soil related. Planting in the right spot in quality soil will avoid most issues. Powdery mildew may be an issue on the foliage of some varieties in humid conditions. This can be treated with a suitable low or no-tox fungicide.

Passion fruit propagation 

Growing passion fruit from seed

Passion fruit is most often grown from seed. This germinates readily if cleaned and planted when fresh into a quality seed-raising mix.

Growing passion fruit from cuttings

Take semi-hardwood cuttings in summer, then dip in cutting gel and place in a small pot and keep in a warm location. The cuttings should strike well.

If you like this then try

Mango: a lush tropical fruit that’s easy to grow.

How to plant a tree: all the tips you need for preparing the soil.

Grapevine: the ultimate fruiting climber for cooler zones

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