Passion fruit is a form of berry that grows on the passion fruit plant.
There are two types of passion fruit purple and yellow. The fruit of the purple passion fruit plant is purple. That fruit is slightly smaller than a lemon. The fruit of the yellow passion fruit plant is bright yellow. That fruit is about the size a grapefruit.
Both fruits are spherical to ovoid in shape. Both fruits have an outer shell that is hard and slippery. The interior of both fruits is a transparent pulp with hard black seeds. The pulp is the edible part of the fruits; it is soft, sweet-tasting, and aromatic.
Passion fruit can be halved and eaten raw sprinkled with sugar or added to fruit salads. The fresh pulp can be used as a dessert topping on cakes or ice cream. Passion fruit can be juiced or made into jam or jelly or into ice pops. The passion fruits flavor can be compared to guava.
The botanical name of purple passion fruit is Passiflora edulis; the botanical name of yellow passion fruit is Passiflora edulis flavicarpa.
Passion fruit is an evergreen vining plant that can grow to 30 or 40 feet in length. It is widely grown in tropical and semitropical regions of the world. In the United States, the plants are grown mostly in Florida, Hawaii, and California.
Passion fruit plants have showy flowers 2 to 3 inches across with five greenish-white sepals surround by five white petals and a fringelike corona of white-tipped rays emerging from a rich purple base.
Best Climate and Site for Growing Passion Fruit
- Passion fruit is a tropical and subtropical plant; it grows best in frost-free regions.
- There are a few cultivars that can survive temperatures in the upper 20sF. Vines may lose some of their leaves in cool winters; the roots will resprout even if the foliage is killed.
- Plant passion fruit in full sun except in areas where summers are very hot; in very hot regions plant passion fruit in partial shade.
- Passion fruit is a vining plant that grows rapidly; plant passion fruit where it can climb a trellis or wire fence. Passion fruits have tendrils and are natural climbers.
- Passion fruit grows best in well-drained, compost-rich, sandy loam with a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
- Avoid planting passion fruit where the soil is constantly wet. Also, avoid planting passionfruit in spots where it can be damaged by wind.
- Avoid planting passionfruit in low spots where cold air or frost can settle.
Choosing the Right Passion Fruit Plant
- Yellow passion fruit is sweet, acidic, and tropical with mild floral notes.
- Purple passion fruit has a flavor and aroma richer than yellow passion fruit. It is also less acidic.
- The flavor of both is reminiscent of guava.
Passion Fruit Pollination
- Purple passion fruit plants are self-pollinating.
- Yellow passion fruit plants are not self-pollinating. They depend on insects to transfer pollen from one plant to the next for pollination. The carpenter bee is the most effective passion fruit pollinator. The pollen is heavy and sticky making pollination by honeybees difficult.
Spacing Passion Fruit
- Passion fruits are vigorous growers. One vining plant can grow 30 to 40 feet. Train vines up to avoid stems of separate plants tangling. Training vines on a trellis will make fruit harvest easier.
Planting Passion Fruit
- Plant passion fruit where it can not be damaged by frost or cold winter temperatures.
- Prepare a planting hole half again as deep as the root ball and twice as wide.
- Add a mixture of 2 cups of kelp and 1 cup of bone meal to the hole prior to planting.
- Set the plant in the hole and refill the hole around the root ball with a combination of native soil and aged compost or commercial organic planting mix. Firm in the soil so that no air pockets.
- Form a small basin of soil around the plant to hold irrigation water.
Container Growing Passion Fruit
- Passion fruit can be grown in containers, but the vigorous vines will need the support of a trellis.
- Choose a container 24 inches wide and deep or larger.
Passion Fruit Care, Nutrients, and Water
- Keep the soil evenly moist for best fruit production; if the soil dries, the fruit will shrivel and drop.
- Passion fruit is heavy feeders; use a 10-5-20 fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will result in leafy growth and less fruit set.
Training and Pruning Passion Fruit
- Train passion fruit to a trellis to keep separate vines from tangling and to make the harvest of fruit easier. Passion fruit has tendrils and is natural climbers.
- Prune to eliminate weak and unproductive growth. Prune to keep the plants within bounds.
- Prune after harvest; cut back vigorous growth by one-third.
- Avoid removing foliage that shields fruit from hot summer sunburn.
Harvest and Storing Passion Fruit
- The fruit is ready for harvest 70 to 80 days after pollination, usually in mid to late summer and sometimes longer.
- The fruit will turn from deep green to deep purple or yellow when ripe. Ripe fruit will fall to the ground.
- Pick passion fruit when they reach full color or gather dropped fruits daily. The fruit is sweetest when slightly shriveled.
- Passion fruit will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
- Both the fruit and juice can be frozen.
Propagating Passion Fruit
- Passion fruit is usually grown from seed. Seed removed from the fruit can be planted right away. Germination will occur in 10 to 20 days. Sow seed ½ to 1 inch deep.
- Passion fruit can be propagated by layering or by cuttings and also by grafting. Yellow passion fruit rootstock is used for grafting.
Passion Fruit Problems and Control
- Passion fruit is susceptible to attack by insect pests and diseases.
- Nematodes can attack roots; there is no cure for infected plants; solarize the soil when possible.
- Snails will feed on foliage; use beer traps and overturned citrus rinds to attract and catch snails.
- Fusarium fungal disease can cause foliage dieback; remove infected foliage; space plants well apart to encourage air circulation.
Passion Fruit Varieties to Grow
- ‘Australian Purple' also called ‘Nelly Kelly’: purple fruit with a mild, sweet flavor.
- ‘Common Purple': purple fruit; thick-skinned, with small seed cavity; fine flavor and low acidity.
- ‘Kapoho Selection': yellow fruit; heavy bearer of large fruits; little or no pulp and the juice.
- ‘Pratt Hybrid': purple and yellow hybrid; good flavor, low in acid.
- ‘Sevcik Selection': yellow fruit; a heavy bearer; the juice has a woody flavor.
- ‘University Round Selection': yellow fruit; very good flavor.
- ‘University Selection No. B-74': yellow fruit; good juice yield and very good flavor.
- ‘Waimanalo Selection': yellow fruit; very good flavor.
- ‘Yee Selection': yellow fruit; highly disease-resistant; fruit has a thick rind and low amount of juice; very good flavor.
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