Passion fruit is grown commercially throughout tropical and subtropical regions, including the warm-climate areas of California, Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Gardeners in similar climatic regions have success growing passion fruit at home. There are hundreds of different types of passion fruit, most of which are indigenous to parts of the U.S.
Even though many commercial growers of passion fruit propagate passion fruit from cuttings, the fruit vine was originally grown from seed. When a seedling is planted in the ground, the vine is allowed to climb and grow. After 6-9 months it starts to produce flowers that need to be pollinated before the fruit will form, develop, and ripen.
What is Passion Fruit
Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) is a tropical fruit that belongs to the Passifloraceae family. According to ScienceDirect, the passion fruit plant originated in South America but is now grown all over the world.
There are more than 500 species of Passifloraceae and about 400 known species of Passiflora. Only about 50 or 60 Passiflora sp. produce edible fruits, very few of which are commercially viable.
According to the Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Elsevier Science Ltd.), the fruit we find in the U.S. is limited to two types. These are based on the well-known purple species of Passiflora edulis Sims and the yellow form, Passiflora edulis f. Flavicarpa Degener. Both are commonly called granadillas globally.
A post compiled by master gardener, Robert Vieth of the University of California Cooperative Extension, provides fascinating details about some of the species that produce fruit. But he points out that while much of this is “excellent fruit,” the Edulis is the only species that are cold hardy enough to be grown outside of California’s banana belts.
The plant is a vine that needs to be trained. Often people refer to it as a passion fruit tree, but this is incorrect!
The passion fruit vine produces aromatic, tropical-tasting fruits. While the different types have different colored skin and flesh, they all have lots of small edible pips (or fruit seeds) inside the fruit.
Why is it Called Passion Fruit?
Perhaps the most significant thing about the passion fruit is the passion flower that gives the plant its name. As an article on the University of Florida Extension website states, a Spanish physician, Nicolás Monardes associated the structure of the flower with the crucifixion of Christ in 1569.
It was referred to as the “flower of five wounds,” by early missionaries in Brazil. And its three stigmas were said to represent the three nails that held Jesus to the cross.
Passion Fruit Quick Guide
Passion fruit is easy to grow, so much so it is considered a weed in some parts of the world. The problem is that it grows so vigorously, it becomes invasive.
But it is not considered invasive in the U.S., even where it thrives. Despite its easy growth, when growing passion fruit, it’s important to follow some basic rules to ensure you meet the needs of the plant.
|Factors affecting plant growth||What to know when you grow passion fruit at home|
|Difficulty||Easy to grow|
|Climate||Warm subtropical and tropical regions|
|Soil||Fast-draining, fertile, sandy loam soils|
|Sunlight||Full sun is best|
|Planting||Plant seeds or established seedlings|
|Watering||Must be consistent and ongoing|
|Fertilizer||High potassium type 2-4 times a year|
|Pests & diseases||Root knot nematodes, caterpillars, aphids, whiteflies, and snails, as well as fungal diseases|
|Harvesting||Harvest when fully ripe as passion fruit won’t ripen after it’s been picked|
|Pruning||After harvest or during the dormant season to get rid of dead or diseased growth|
10 Stages of Passion Fruit
Passion fruit vines may be grown from seed or cuttings. We’re going to look at all the growing stages, from planting and germinating the passion fruit seeds until after the fruit has been harvested.
No. 1 Germination Stage
The process starts when you plant the passion fruit seeds and allow them to germinate. You can do this directly in the location where you want them to grow, or in seed punnets or pots.
Generally, it is best not to plant directly in the soil because this is a very hit-and-miss method. You have more control when they are in pots and punnets, as later you can choose the healthiest seedlings to plant out where you want your passion fruit plant to grow.
In any case, you need to plant the seeds in a well-draining potting mix, keeping them consistently moist but not waterlogged. Usually, seeds germinate within 2-4 weeks.
No. 2 Seedling Stage
Once the seeds have sprouted and grown a few true leaves, the plant enters the seedling stage. During this phase, it requires adequate sunlight, water, and nutrition to establish a strong root system.
No. 3 Planting Out Stage
Assuming you haven’t sown your passion fruit seeds directly where you want the passion fruit vine to grow, you’re going to have to plant out your seedlings. You might have grown these yourself from fruit seeds, or you may have bought seedlings from a garden center.
Either way, soil preparation is important when you plant seeds or seedlings. As Robert Vieth says, passion fruit growing requires fast-draining soils that have a pH of 6.5-7.
Drainage is essential because some species are susceptible to soil diseases. These plants have shallow roots, so planting in raised beds or container growing can work well.
No. 4 Climbing and Training Stage
Passion fruit vines can grow to great heights. They produce tendrils that help them climb, securing themselves around anything they come into contact with.
So, one of the most important factors when growing passion fruit, is to provide the vines with a suitable framework to cling onto. You don’t want it to do what it does in nature, which can result in it literally reaching for the stars.
Usually, vines are trained along trellising wires so that they form a curtain between the uprights of the framework.
No. 5 Vegetative Growth Stage
The vegetative growth stage embodies the continued growth and development of the leaves, stems, and tendrils. This is when the plant dedicates most of its energy to building a robust framework for fruit production.
No. 6 Flowering Stage
When the fruit vine is 6-9 months old, it begins to produce flowers. Passion fruit flowers are striking and typically have a complex structure with vibrant colors.
No. 7 Pollination Stage
Passion fruit flowers need to be pollinated to set fruit. While some varieties are self-pollinating, most require assistance from insects, particularly bees.
Without pollination, you’re not going to get any fruit forming.
No. 8 Fruit Development Stage
After successful pollination, the fertilized flowers will develop into passion fruit. Initially, they are small and green, and over time, you’ll see the fruit growing larger and, as the fruit stages develop, changing color to purple, yellow, or red, depending on the variety.
No. 9 Ripening and Harvesting Stage
Passion fruit takes several weeks to ripen fully after it has reached its mature size and color. It is ready for harvest when the fruit starts to wrinkle and become slightly soft to the touch. Ripe fruit should feel slightly soft when gently squeezed.
To harvest your passion fruit, gently twist and snap the fruit off the vine. It’s essential to handle the fruit carefully to avoid damaging it.
No. 10 Pruning Stage
While pruning is certainly part of the passion fruit’s care and maintenance schedule, it is also part of the growing process. Regular pruning is essential to manage the growth of the vine and promote better fruit production in the new season.
When you prune, remove any dead or diseased growth to ensure that you keep the plant well-maintained.
Passion Fruit Care and Maintenance
Growing passion fruit can be very rewarding. But caring for and maintaining passion fruit plants properly is crucial to ensure healthy growth and maximize fruit production.
Here are some essential tips for passion fruit care and maintenance:
- Make sure you plant passion fruit vines where they get full sun for at least 6-8 hours every day. Also, ensure it is sheltered from strong winds.
- Water regularly but never allow the soil to become waterlogged. Water deeply and consistently, especially during dry spells, but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
- Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the passion fruit plant to help retain soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain a more even soil temperature.
- Passion fruit plants benefit from regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer, especially during periods of active growth. Use a fertilizer with an N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio, along with additional micronutrients.
- Regular pruning is essential to manage the vine’s growth and to promote better fruit production. Prune away dead or diseased growth, as well as any weak or overcrowded stems after you have harvested the fruit.
How long does it take for a passion fruit to grow?
The time it takes for Passiflora edulis to grow and produce ripe fruit varies on various factors including climate, growing conditions, and the specific variety of passion fruit you are growing.
Germination can take 2-4 weeks. It will then take weeks or maybe a couple of months for seedlings to mature.
The climbing growth and vegetative stages will continue for several months to a year or more, depending on the variety and growing conditions. The flowering stage takes another 6-9 months.
It then takes another 2-4 months for the fruit to develop. Taking all these growth stages into consideration, it’s safe to estimate that it can take anywhere from 8 months to 2 years or more for a passion fruit vine to grow from a seed to produce ripe fruits.
How do you know when passion fruit is done growing?
Once your passion fruit vine reaches maturity and begins fruiting, it can continue to produce fruits for several years under proper care and maintenance. But, of course, you need to harvest each individual passion fruit when it ripens.
Let the plant grow as long as possible. A healthy vine will live for up to seven years before it needs to be replaced.
How many passion fruit do you get per plant?
The number of passion fruits you can expect to get from each plant will vary depending on the age and health of the plant, growing conditions, the variety, and the effectiveness of pollination. On average, a mature and well-established passion fruit vine can yield anywhere from 50 to 200 more fruits per year.
Growing passion fruit can be immensely satisfying. It’s not difficult as long as you are aware of the fruit-growing stages and their needs.
To grow passion fruit you need to know what factors affect growth. Our complete guide aims to give you this information.