The Q&A Archives: passion fruit care

Question: How to plant, what to add to soil, what to fertilize with, how to keep it giving sweet fruit year after year.

Answer: The purple passion fruit is subtropical and prefers a frost-free climate. However, there are cultivars that can take temperatures into the upper 20's (?F) without serious damage. The plant is widely grown in California as far north as San Jose, the Monterey Bay Area and the San Franciso Bay Area. The vines may lose some of their leaves in cool winters. The roots often resprout even if the top is killed. The plant does not grow well in intense summer heat. The yellow passion fruit is tropical or near-tropical and is much more intolerant of frost. Both forms need protection from the wind.

Plant passion fruit vines in full sun. The vine can be rather rampant, so it is important to plant it next to a chain link fence or install a strong trellis before planting. The plants can also be trained into an attractive arbor.

Passion fruit vines grow on many soil types but light to heavy sandy loams with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 are the most suitable. Excellent drainage is absolutely necessary. Also, the soil should be rich in organic matter and low in salts.

Regular watering will keep a vine flowering and fruiting almost continuously. Water requirement is high when fruits are approaching maturity. If the soil is dry, fruits may shrivel and fall prematurely.

Passion fruit vines are vigorous growers and require regular fertilizing. A good choice is 10-5-20 NPK applied at the rate of 3 pounds per plant 4 times a year. Too much nitrogen results in vigorous foliage growth at the expense of flowering. Passion fruit vines should always be watched for deficiencies, particularly in potassium and calcium, and of less importance, magnesium. Plants that have been damaged by frost should receive a generous fertilizing after the weather has warmed

Pruning is necessary to keep the vines within bounds, to make harvest easier and to keep the plants productive by maintaining vigorous growth. In warm winter climates prune immediately after harvest. In areas with cool winters prune in early spring. As a a general rule remove all weak growth and cut back vigorous growth by at least one third. In very hot climates allow a thick canopy of foliage to grow around the fruit to prevent sunburn.

Because of their mass, passion fruit vines are difficult to cover when freezes threaten, but the layers of leaves help protect the inner branches from frost damage. The plant will also usually come back even when frozen to the ground. The best strategy is to grow the vines against a wall or deck or in a patio. Any kind of overhead protection provides additional benefits.

The fruit will quickly turn from green to deep purple (or yellow) when ripe and then fall to the ground within a few days. They can either be picked when they change color or gathered from the ground each day. To store passion fruit, wash and dry them gently and place them in bags. They should last 2 to 3 weeks at 50? F. The fruit is sweetest when slightly shriveled. Both the fruit and the juice freeze well. The flavor of passion fruit blends well with citrus and many other fruit flavors, and is quickly appreciated by many people as they become familiar with it.

Best wishes with your plant!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by dirtdorphins and is called "sunset on summer"