A little bit about passionfruit
No doubt you’ve enjoyed the tasty, tart fruit of the passionfruit plant. But did you know the fruit comes from a beautiful climbing vine that can create shade, privacy and jazz up an unsightly space? This evergreen perennial is originally from Brazil, but many species feel right at home here in Sydney. If an attractive and practical plant is your thing, the large, glossy leaves, famously beautiful flowers and vigorous, fast growth of the passionfruit plant really does make it a great pick.
Botanical name: Passiflora edulis
Height: 4.5 metres Width: 2.4 to 4.5 metres
Ideal position: Passionfruit is frost tender. It enjoys full or half-sun with deep, moist, humus-rich, well-draining soil.
Where to grow passionfruit?
Train your passionfruit along a balcony railing, pergola, fence or trellis. If you plan on growing it as a creeper, tie up new growth to keep it under control. One well-grown vine will provide plenty of fruit for an average family, but if you’d like more than one plant, plant vines 2.5 metres apart.
When does it bloom and fruit?
In Sydney, passionfruit flowers and fruits from spring to autumn. Flowers are beautiful and intricate and appear in mostly purple and white. Vines planted in spring sometimes give a light crop in autumn but usually won’t bear fruit until the following summer. Fruit colour changes from green to purple when ripe then falls. Gather fallen fruit every day in summer so it doesn’t burn or pick fruit when the skin has turned purple-black and is still smooth, but do not eat until the skin is wrinkled.
How to prepare for planting
Passionfruit loves generous feeding. Apply a complete fruit tree fertiliser when growth starts in spring and continue feeding through to autumn. Use pelletised flower and fruit fertiliser, citrus food or chicken poo. Water plant well before adding fertiliser then spread it around the base of the stem and along the area where the roots are growing. After feeding in spring, spread organic mulch such as compost or aged cow manure two to three centimetres deep. Don’t let it build up against the stem and don’t dig it in as this may encourage suckering.
Passionfruit vines don’t need pruning to encourage fruiting, but they may need it to remove overgrown growth or to keep the vine under control. The best time to prune is in spring as new growth resumes. Avoid removing main stems, just cut back unwanted twining stems.
Passionfruit vine hopper, also known as fluffy bum (due to the appearance of its young) can attack vines and may lead to fruit or flower drop. These can be squashed or hosed off. Juvenile fluffy bums can be treated with a garden spray such as a pyrethrum-based insecticide (apply according to label instructions). Vines may also be attacked by scale. Use a horticultural spray oil to deal with scale.
Because its roots are quite shallow, passionfruit loves regular watering. Mulching is useful too, but keep mulch away from stems as this may encourage collar rot.