- Preparing A Passion Flower Vine For Winter
- Growing a Passion Vine Outside Year Round
- Preparing a Passion Flower Vine for Winter
- Pruning Passion Vine Plants
- Growing the Native Passionflower: Passiflora incarnata
- What is the difference between Passiflora edulis and Passiflora incarnata?
- HOW TO GROW PASSION FRUIT
- PLANTING LOCATION & CONDITIONS
- ONGOING CARE
- PASSION FRUIT
- Passionate for Passionflower and Passion fruit
- How to grow great passionfruit
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- Growing Passionfruit
- Passion Flower Winter Care Indoors: Tips For Over Wintering Passion Flower
- Passion Flower Vine Winter Care
- How Long Does it Take Before Berry Fruits?
- PERRENIAL OF THE WEEK: Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Preparing A Passion Flower Vine For Winter
With the popularity of owning a Passiflora vine, it’s no wonder that the common name for them is a passion vine. These semi-tropical beauties are grown all over the world and are cherished for their marvelous flowers and their tasty fruit. If you live in USDA planting zone 7 for most passion vine plants and zone 6 (or a mild zone 5) for purple passion vine plants, you should be able to successfully overwinter your passionflower vine outside.
Growing a Passion Vine Outside Year Round
The first step that you need to take is to make sure that where you are growing a passion vine outside is somewhere that the vine will be happy year round. For most climates, you will want to make sure that the Passiflora vine is planted in a somewhat sheltered area.
For cooler climates, plant your passion flower vine near a foundation on a building or near a large rock or concrete surface. These types of features tend to absorb and radiate heat and will help keep your Passiflora vine remain a little warmer than it otherwise will be. The part of the plant that is above ground will still die back, but the root structure will survive.
In warmer climates, the root structure will most likely survive regardless, but a sheltered area out of the wind will ensure that more of the upper part of the passion vine plants will survive.
Preparing a Passion Flower Vine for Winter
As winter approaches, you will want to cut back any fertilizer you may be giving to the plant. This will discourage any new growth as the warm weather comes to an end.
You will also want to heavily mulch the area around the Passiflora vine. The colder the area you live in, the more you will want to mulch the area.
Pruning Passion Vine Plants
Winter is an excellent time to prune your passion flower vine. A Passiflora vine does not need to be pruned to be healthy, but you may wish to train it or shape it. In cooler climates, the whole vine will die back, but in warmer climates, this will be the time to do any pruning you think needs to be done.
Growing the Native Passionflower: Passiflora incarnata
One of the most exotic flowers found in temperate regions is the passionflower, Passiflora incarnata. It is a native plant with a range that stretches from Central America and into the United States as far north as central Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which translates to USDA Zone 6 and sometimes Zone 5 with protection. There are other, more tropical species of passiflora, however this is the hardiest of the genus. The striking purple and white flowers that appear in late summer often reach three inches across and produce an edible fruit. It has several common names, but maypops tend to be the most often used. The name was thought to describe the popping sound that the fruit makes when stepped on, however that isn’t the case. The Powhatan First Nation’s word for the plant was mahcawq and over the years it was Anglicized to be maypop.
The passionflower grows in sunny meadows with well-drained soil. Full sun is best in the northern parts of its range, however, a little afternoon or dappled shade is good in the hotter, southern areas. It produces a scrambling vine that reaches up to 20 feet with side shoots and suckers where it is happy. The unique flowers bloom from mid-summer into fall and there is no chance for mis-identification. Nothing else looks like a passionflower.
Passionflower history and legends
Many people wonder how this plant got its common name, sometimes mistakenly assuming that the fruit is an aphrodisiac. That isn’t the case. It seems that 16th century priests found that the construction of the flower was an excellent way of describing the details of Christ’s Crucifixion, with the petals and sepals representing the disciples, the wavy rays the crown of thorns and the three anthers the nail wounds. This type of symbolism was a common practice as they spread Christianity, the shamrock in Ireland being another example. Among the New World peoples, the Inca called it the Vine of Souls and the Maya associated it with death and the underworld, so it wasn’t a huge leap for the priests to convince the native peoples that the flower was sacred to Christianity as well.
Passionflowers and herbal medicine
Early peoples used the plant for medicinal purposes as well. Tea from the roots was a sleep aid, pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. They also gave babies the tea when trying to wean them from mother’s milk. These properties have been verified by modern standards, however it is advised never use herbal remedies without consulting a medical professional.
Eat passion vine fruits
The fruit of the passion vine is edible and I can personally attest that it is quite tasty. I describe the taste much like a wild grape, sweet and tart at the same time, but also milder than a grape. The egg shaped fruits start out firm and green, ripening to a yellow color. When split open the hundreds of seeds are covered in a jelly-like substance. Eat them fresh, or cook them to release the juice. The juice is mixed into drinks or used to make jelly.
Passion vines as host plants
Butterflies and other insects like passionflower too. They are used as a host plant for many of the fritillary butterflies and ants set up housekeeping among the vines because of the extrafloral nectaries. This means that certain parts of the plant (such as leaf axils and ends of buds) other than the flowers produce nectar and ants find this a handy source of food. They guard the plants and even go as far as to push the caterpillars off the plants and eat the butterfly eggs to ensure their chosen plants aren’t defoliated. There are a number of plants that produce nectar in this manner, peonies being another one that ants use this way.
Growing passion vine from seed
Growing passion vines is not hard. If you have a ripe fruit, break it open and scoop out the pulp. There is a jelly-like substance surrounding each seed. Remove this before planting because it is a germination inhibitor. The best way to to this is through fermentation. Many gardeners are familiar with fermenting tomato seeds and the process is the same. Put the pulp in a cup and set it on the counter for about 5 days. Mold will form and the jelly will start to dissolve. Pour the whole mess into a strainer and rinse under running water until the seeds are clean. Spread in a single layer to dry and store. Use the seeds within a year to ensure best the germination percentage. To help with germination, place in damp sand and place in the refrigerator for 12 weeks. This is called stratification and mimics the cold season. Then plant the seeds in damp seeds starting mix and place in a warm area. This lets the seeds think it is spring and they will germinate. Depending on how old the seeds are, they can take up to several weeks to germinate. If you don’t want to go through the indoor process, simply sow the seeds outdoors in the fall and let nature take its course. The little vines should grow quickly and will most likely produce flowers their first year. Give them a sunny area and something to climb. Just remember that Passiflora incarnata is a short lived perennial and will likely live only three or four years, so make sure that new plants germinate every so often.
Growing passion vines in your temperate zone garden gives it an exotic appearance because most species are tropical and even though it is a native plant, many people have never seen them. Give visitors something to talk about and plant some of these beauties. Seeds and plants are widely available and make a great addition to most styles of gardens.
Did you know that there are literally hundreds of stunning, exotic-looking passion flower varieties, but only a handful that will that actually produce edible fruit? Yep – that’s right! The two most common fruiting passion flower are Passiflora edulis (which has both a purple and yellow species, along with hybrids) and Passiflora incarnata – also known as “Maypops”.
Read along to learn how to grow edible passion fruit vines – including their preferred climate and conditions, starting with seeds versus seedlings, pollination, pests, and tips for ongoing care. We’ll also discuss the key differences between Passiflora edulis and Passiflora incarnata, so you can decide which will best suit your garden. And we won’t forget the best part – how to harvest and eat passionfruit!
Passion fruit is sweet, tart, tangy, and downright delicious. It is nature’s sour candy! For us, growing passionfruit is also dual purpose. We adore the antioxidant-rich, low-glycemic index fruit – but also enjoy the vigorous, lush climbing vines. They are evergreen in our climate, and make for excellent privacy screens. We have 9 passion fruit vines covering arches and trellises that serve as “green walls” all over our property! Yet they do require maintenance, and have the tendency to be invasive. We’ll talk about pruning too.
One our gorgeous but non-edible passionflower plants: Passiflora vitafolia ‘Scarlet Flame’
What is the difference between Passiflora edulis and Passiflora incarnata?
Before we go much further, let’s simplify things. From here on out, I will refer to Passiflora edulis as “passion fruit”, and call Passiflora incarnata by its common name – “maypops”. Sound good? Okay. Think of passion fruit and maypops like cousins. They’re related, but have some notable differences
Maypops are native to North America, whereas passion fruit is native to South America. Thus, maypops are more cold-tolerant than their sub-tropical passion fruit cousins. Maypops are generally hardy down to USDA zone 6. I have heard rumors of them growing in zone 5 as well, if they’re planted in a sheltered, south-facing location. The vines will die back after the first hard frost, but bounce back with a vengeance the following spring – especially if they’re well established and protected with extra mulch. Despite their US-native status, maypops are considered invasive by some due to their zealous growing habits.
Passion fruit are more tender, and thrive in frost-free climates. USDA hardiness zones 9-11 are ideal for passion fruit, though some hybrid varieties are more cold-tolerant and will survive an occasional dip below 30 degrees. “Frederick” purple passion fruit is one such variety, and is advertised as being hardy down to zone 8b. Where winters are mild, passion fruit will remain an evergreen vine. In places with a bit of frost, it will likely lose some of its leaves over winter.
On the other hand, the less common yellow passion fruit (Passiflora edulis f. flavicarpa) are significantly more tropical and do not tolerate freezing at all. These are the types of passion fruit commonly found in Hawaii – also called Lilikoi on the islands. Surprisingly, despite their more tropical tendencies, it is said that yellow passion fruit is slightly more bitter and acidic than the purple variety.
Aren’t sure of your hardiness zone? Use this easy look-up tool.
A large “Frederick” purple passion fruit, and its evergreen vine in the background – serving as a wonderful privacy screen from our neighbors beyond.
Both passion fruit and maypop flowers are out-of-this-world gorgeous. Really, they look like alien flowers! You can tell the difference between the two by the significantly more lavender hue on the maypops, including their frilly bits, whereas passionfruit has white frills and petals with a purple center. The yellow variation of passion fruit look like the purple, mostly white flowers as well.
Aside from being native, another huge one-up the maypop has over passion fruit is that their flowers are medicinally beneficial! Soothing Passiflora incarnata is used by herbalists to reduce anxiety, pain, insomnia, ADHD, and inflammation. Both the maypop flowers and fresh leaves can be dried and used to make calming teas, tinctures, and infusions. They can also be used topically as poultices to heal cuts and bruises.
I will state for the record that I am not a trained herbalist. However, I have poured over many resources, and cannot find anything that suggests that purple passion fruit (P. edulis) flowers should be used for medicinal purposes. On the contrary, I found that they could potentially be slightly toxic if ingested. If you know otherwise, please correct me if I am wrong here! But that is the conclusion I have come to.
Passilfora edulis flowers are more white and deep purple. These are Frederick purple passion flowers, and the yellow variety looks very similar as well. See the difference to Maypops below. Passiflora incarnata or “maypop” bloom. Much more lavender than a P. edulis! Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
While the maypop has the passion fruit beat with its flower power, the opposite is true when it comes to fruit. Truth be told, I have never tasted a maypop since they are not common here. But from what I have read and heard, passion fruit is significantly more sweet and tropical in flavor than the maypop. Furthermore, passion fruit can grow larger in size and are often more juicy inside. Especially the Frederick variety, which can get huge. That isn’t to say that maypops aren’t still awesome though! It is just a known difference.
Both passion fruit and maypops are egg-shaped, and filled with seedy pulp that is both sweet and sour in flavor. Underripe maypops can be particularly sour. The aroma of a ripe purple passion fruit smells like you died and went to tropical heaven! Due to the large black edible seeds, the texture is crunchy – though some folks choose to spit out the seeds. The pulp can also be juiced to separate out the seeds.
Lifespan & Fruiting Time
Unfortunately, your fruiting passion plants will not live forever! The passion flower vines that do not produce fruit can live for a decade or longer, while fruiting varieties have a shorter life span. Both passion fruit and maypops can take a year or two of growth before they begin to bear fruit, and will begin to produce fewer fruit as they age past their prime. In commercial settings, farmers replace vines every 3 to 5 years.
Purple passion fruit vines have a reported lifespan of about 5 to 7 years. Yet our oldest vine is about four years old now and isn’t slowing down on fruit yet! It is developing more and more woody undergrowth however, which is a sign of aging – as it will not sprout new growth from those areas. Maypops are also described as a “short-lived perennial” that live for several years and then slow or die.
It will be a sad day when these babies die back!
Now that you have a better understanding of which type of Passiflora you are interested and able to grow, let’s dig into the details.
HOW TO GROW PASSION FRUIT
When it comes to starting your passion fruit (or maypop) plant, you have a few different options.
Growing Passion fruit from seed
One way to grow passion fruit is to start the plant from seed. To do so, it is best to use fresh seed – right from a ripe fruit! You can even use seeds from store-bought fruit* (see note below). For passion fruit, simply collect a handful of seeds from inside the fruit, rinse and wipe them down well to remove the pulpy coating, and plant them. In contrast, fresh maypop seeds must be refrigerated for 12 weeks (or kept outside in freezing weather) to induce germination – called cold stratification. Store stratifying seeds in damp sand to prevent them from drying out.
Passion fruit seeds should be planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in seedling start mix or loose, fluffy potting soil, and then kept damp and warm until they sprout – which is how most seeds are started. A seedling heat mat may come in handy. Patience is key here, because even the freshest seeds can take 10 to 20 days to germinate. Older dry seeds can take months! Soaking dry seeds for a day or two before planting can help promote sprouting. The same applies for maypops.
*Note: The one caveat here is that seeds you collect must come variety of passion fruit that is not a hybrid. Hybrid seeds will not breed true – meaning they probably won’t “grow up” to be like their parent plant. Though they all weren’t perfectly marked, I believe most of our passion fruit vines are a Frederick hybrid, thus we can’t seed-save from them.
If you are unsure of the exact variety, it may be more worthwhile to either buy seed from a reputable source, or seek out a started plant.
Passion fruit cuttings or seedlings
If you know someone who has a passion fruit vine, see if you can snag a cutting from them! The tips of new vine growth will be most vigorous and easy to propagate. Obtain a cutting that has at least several leaves and tendrils above a node, around 6 to 8 inches long. Then, dip the cut end of the vine in rooting hormone or fresh aloe vera gel, and plant it in a container of well-draining but consistently damp potting soil. Hopefully, roots will take form and the cutting will flourish.
A similar, even easier option is to buy a started seedling or young plant. That is – it’s easier if you can find them! We’ve had great luck; our local nurseries almost always carry them. A few times they have been out of stock, but happily put in a special order for us. Feel free to ask your local nursery or garden center to do the same! And by “local nursery”, I mean the smaller operations. You’ll probably have better luck there than at big box stores. Alternatively, you could try to order a started passion fruit vine online.
How many vines do I need? About passion fruit pollination
Good news! Both purple passion fruit and maypops are self-fertile. This means they do not need a partner plant to get pollinated and bear fruit. Since passion fruit vines can become so monstrous in size, this will come as welcome news for folks gardening in small spaces. In contrast, the yellow passion fruit variety is self-sterile and requires cross-pollination from another cultivar of passion fruit planted nearby.
While the blooms can be pollinated by themselves, the pollen is still required to be moved around the flower – transferred from the anther to the stigma. Because passion fruit pollen is rather thick and sticky, wind doesn’t always do the trick. Instead, carpenter bees and honey bees are the primary pollinators for passion fruit. This means you need bees in your yard! For ideas on how to attract more bees to your garden, see this article: “Top 23 Plants for Pollinators: Attract Bees, Butterflies, and Hummingbirds”.
Without bees, you may have to hand-pollinate your passion fruit – which is an easy but somewhat tedious task! Years ago, I hand-pollinated some of our passion flowers for fun, but have not found it necessary. We get gobs of fruit! Yet if your plants need a little help, check out this tutorial to learn how to hand-pollinate passion fruit flowers.
So you have your baby vine, one way or another… Ready to plant?
PLANTING LOCATION & CONDITIONS
As you prepare to plant your passion fruit vine, keep these things in mind in regards to choosing a location:
Passion fruit and maypops need something to climb. Plan to provide support in the form of a trellis, arch, arbor, or other sturdy structure. Personally, we avoid growing them on the property perimeter fences – as we worry about the weight, and access or maintenance from the other side. Instead, we prefer to give them their own dedicated structure to take over. See how we make two different types of sturdy, inexpensive trellises in this step-by-step tutorial!
They are vigorous growers. I can’t stress this enough. Passion fruit and maypops can grow up to 20 feet per year under ideal growing conditions! If allowed, they will wrap up and smother other plants and even trees. Plan a location with ample space, and easy access for pruning as needed.
Double passion fruit arches. In the top “before” image, you can see young vines planted at the base of both arches, just starting to climb. Two years later, the arches are covered and need to be routinely pruned. These are some of our smaller passion fruit vines.
Sun & Shelter
Despite their differences in cold hardiness, both passion fruit and maypop have similar preferences when it comes to sun and shelter. They will grow in locations that receive full sun to partial shade. The vines will flower the most when provided adequate sun – at least 6 hours. However, they are both sensitive to wind, and are prone to sunburning in the hot afternoon sun.
Therefore, I suggest to plant your vines in a semi-sheltered location – especially if you’re pushing the limits with your growing zone! Our most lush, large, productive vine is tucked away on our side yard between a fence and the house, and receives morning to midday sun and afternoon shade. On the other hand, we have some vines that get full sun all day, and they’re doing just fine. They do turn a bit yellow on top in the summer to fall.
When we first planted our “wall” of passion fruit vines along the backside of the front yard garden (late 2015) versus early 2019. While they do receive full sun most of the day, they are still semi-protected from wind by the (now-improved) fence behind them.
Passion fruit prefer soil that is moderately rich and well-draining. Clay soils, containers with inadequate drainage, or standing water can lead to rot, disease, and death. Your best best is to amend the planting area with some fluffy potting soil and plenty of well-aged compost, mixed in with some of your native soil. If they aren’t there already naturally, consider adding some worms to the area as well! They’ll help continue to enrich and aerate the soil for you.
Aside from compost, don’t worry too much about fertilizer at the time of planting. We don’t want to shock the young freshly transplanted vines! We’ll do more amending later. Instead, you could water the new vines with a dilute seaweed extract, mild compost tea, or aloe vera soil drench for a nice and gentle jump start. These plants are both fairly shallow-rooted, so mulch them well to prevent the top few inches of soil from becoming overly dry.
This vine had bark mulch around its base when it was young, with rocks mulching the greater around it for moisture retention. With time, passion vines mulch themselves with leaf litter and a heavy canopy. The main stem that is growing from the ground is somewhere in the middle.
In a mild frost-free climate, there is really no “bad time” to plant a passion fruit vine. We’ve planted ours in various times of year and never had any issues. However, keep in mind that vines planted towards the end of fall or during winter will grow a little slower at first than those planted in the spring. I would avoid planting out a tender young vine in the middle of your hottest months, especially if it is in a location with full sun.
Plant young maypops in the spring, after the last risk of frost has passed. This will provide them as much time possible to get established before frost comes the following fall or winter. The same applies for those growing passion fruit in zones 8 or 9.
Growing Passion Fruit in a Container
Passion fruit and maypops alike “can” be grown in containers. I put “can” in quotes because while they will survive, they won’t necessarily thrive. We have two passion fruit vines planted in the end of raised beds that are 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. They look beautiful and lush, flower some, but produce less fruit than our other in-ground vines – and those are large “containers”!
Growing passion fruit in containers is possible, but will take a little more work. As with most plants, passion fruit are happiest in the ground where their roots can freely roam. Therefore, if you do opt to grow a passion fruit vine in a container, provide a large container with ample room. Container width is important, since they have shallow root systems and will appreciate room to grow outward.
The chosen container should have good drainage to prevent standing water and rotting roots. Use a light potting soil amended with compost. It is important to establish a consistent watering schedule, maintaining the soil moist but not soggy. Containerized plants generally require more frequent fertilizing than those in the ground, since they have a limited space and nutrient reserve to draw from. Therefore, I suggest to double the frequency of our fertilizing recommendations provided below.
Passion fruit and maypops will perform best with regular and moderate water, especially in the warm summer months or while actively growing fruit! Maintain the soil damp but not soggy. However, they are considered “fairly drought tolerant”. Meaning, they shouldn’t shrivel up and die if they’re pushed to the dry side on occasion. Since they’re somewhat prone to root rot and fungal disease, they’d prefer dry over drowning! Our passion fruit vines are on a drip system that gives them a little drink 3 times per week – in varying amounts depending on the season.
Fertilizing Passion Fruit
Passion fruit has a reputation for being a “heavy feeder”. We haven’t found that they need anything too crazy in terms of fertilizer though – especially if you start them out with good soil in their planting location! For our vines, we feed them a few cups of homemade compost tea about twice per year. See this article for a tutorial on how to make actively aerated compost tea.
Additionally, we top-dress the soil around the base of the vines with a mixture of slow-release fertilizers like kelp meal, alfalfa meal, and neem meal in the springtime, which gets watered in. Plus, the worms are down in there doing good work for us! In all, I suggest providing supplemental food in the form of a well-balanced, mild fertilizer at least once or twice per year. Maypops will benefit the most from spring feeding.
Pruning Passion Fruit
When people ask me how and when we prune our passion fruit vines, I usually respond with a laugh and a “Hack at them whenever I get a chance!” It is best to do your hardest passion fruit pruning after the bumper crop harvest. For us, that means in mid to late winter. However, we need to lightly cut back our vines several times a year to stop their rampant spread to unwanted areas. I avoid cutting too much right as the largest flush of flowers and fruit begin in late summer.
When the vines are still small you won’t have to do much pruning, though topping or pinching back a tall singular vine will encourage branching and bushiness. As they grow larger and attempt to extend past their designated structures, trim away new unwanted growth with pruning shears. You can also cut out older weak growth, but avoid cutting the main stem or trunk of the vine. Pruning actually encourages new growth, thicker stems, branching, and more future fruit, so don’t worry about “taking too much”!
For maypops, prune them in the early spring. Remove dead foliage and broken stems, but always keep at least one or two strong main vines growing from the base of the plant to regenerate.
For all the unruly bits around the edges, I can either lop them off with shears or tuck in the ends. Sometimes, I just grab a vine end and yank it! Ha.
Passion Fruit Pests & Disease
Have you heard the phrase “the difference between a weed and flower is a judgement”? Well, you may be faced with a similar judgement when it comes to pests and passion fruit vines. Passion fruit (and maypop) is the one and only host plant for a pretty little orange butterfly called the Gulf Fritillary.
Like milkweed to monarchs, the Gulf Fritillary caterpillars only feed on passion vines – though their adult butterflies do drink nectar from many types of flowers. These caterpillars can be seen as a pest as they munch down your precious passion fruit plant. From what I hear, they can do some significant damage too! But you know, it is the strangest thing… We see Gulf Fritillary butterflies in our yard quite often, but never notice caterpillar damage on our vines! Maybe the vines are so large and lush that we just can’t see it?
If you do notice damage to your vines, it is going to be a judgement call on how you want to proceed. If it is towards the end of the season and you’re growing maypops, I say leave them. They vines are going to die back soon anyways! If you do have the desire to remove them, you could either hand-pick the caterpillars off and dispose of them, or use an organic Bt-based spray. Bt stands for a bacteria called Bacillus Thuringiensis, and it only harms caterpillars. Take caution to avoid overspray, and use as directed!
Gulf Fritillary butterfly and larvae. Photos courtesy of University of Florida
Other Pests or Diseases
It is not uncommon to see ants on passion fruit vines. Ants feed on the nectaries – glands outside of the flower that produce nectar – and may also be helping with pollination! We have ants on our passion fruit vines and don’t intervene.
Additionally, our thick vines are prone to mealybug infestations. To help control that, we periodically release American ladybugs and another type of lady beetle – mealybug destroyers.
Other diseases that may affect passion fruit include fungal, Fusarium wilt, crown rot, scab, and other viral diseases. Overall, the are fairly hardy plants – and many of these issues can be prevented with good routine care like we’ve discussed today!
Harvesting Passion Fruit
Get ready for your maypops to ripen up in late summer to early fall! Passion fruit are often ripening around the same time, but timing can vary more in mild climates that lack freezing winters. For example, several of my San Diego friends informed me that their “bumper crop” is usually finishing up during August and September, while ours will occur from October to December a few hours north here on the Central Coast.
Both fruits take several months to mature, and start as small, green, egg-shaped fruit. With time, maypops turn yellowish in color near harvest. Purple passion fruit on the other hand turn sky blue! Just kidding. They turn purple.
One of my absolute favorite things to do in the garden is harvest passion fruit – because it is damn fun and EASY! See, passion fruit is self-harvesting. When they’re ripe, they simply fall off the vine naturally. Then we get to go around with a basket and collect them from the ground, like an easter egg hunt! Every day. For months. Large thick vines will benefit from an occasional shake of the trellis to dislodge any ripe fruit stuck in their masses.
Maypops will also drop from their vines when mature. Or, you can harvest them when they’ve become yellow, wrinkled, and easily pull off the vine. Wrinkling is a key indicator of ripeness for maypops, and they can be quite sour when they’re underripe. Passion fruit on the other hand doesn’t need to wrinkle, though it may. As long as it is a nice purple color and came off the vine, it is ready to enjoy!
Ripe purple passion fruit. Ripe versus underripe Maypop passion fruit. Photo courtesy of Garden Cuizine.
Our favorite way to eat passion fruit is with spoon, straight from the shell – seeds and all! It is mouth-puckering but decadent. We also frequently scoop out the pulp to enjoy on top of granola with various nuts and seeds. Passion fruit is also excellent juiced, and added to kombucha. We’ve also added the juice to baked goods and homemade popsicles!
To juice passion fruit, we scoop the pulp into a fine mesh strainer perched over a bowl, and use a rubber spatula to repetitively stir and mash the pulp – pushing the juice down through the strainer into the bowl below. Some folks use the juice to make preserves such as jelly, syrup, or curd! The juice can also be frozen. I plan to play around with passion fruit in the kitchen more this winter, so stay tuned for new recipe ideas!
Now, excuse me while I go make breakfast.
I hope you found this article useful, interesting, and inspiring. What do you think? Are you going to plant some Passiflora this year? They’re absolutely worth the effort, as the fruit costs a small fortune in the stores! Please feel free to ask questions or leave feedback in the comments, and spread the love by sharing this article.
Passion fruit is prized for the exotic, citrus-like flavor of its orange pulp. Use the fruit for juice; or cut it in half and eat it from the skin, seeds and all, with a spoon. Most of the commercially produced passion fruit in the U.S. comes from Cali- fornia and Hawaii, but three types are grown in Florida: purple pas- sion fruit (Passiflora edulis), yellow passion fruit (P. edulis flavicarpa), and giant granadilla (P. quadrangularis). Purple passion fruit is hardy as far north as Tampa; the others are restricted to south Florida.
Purple passion fruit has light yellow-green, tooth-edged leaves with three lobes. White, 2- to 3 inches flowers with white-and-purple crowns bloom in warm weather; rounded or egg-shaped, dark purple fruit to 2 inches long follows in spring and early summer. The plant is self-pollinating. Due to its susceptibility to nematodes, purple passion fruit grown in south Florida must be grafted onto rootstocks of yellow passion fruit or other resistant species.
Yellow passion fruit has leaves and flowers similar to those of purple passion fruit, but its fruit is deep yellow and slightly longer.
Giant granadilla has four-sided stems set with oval leaves to 10 inches long, 6 inches wide. From midsummer to fall, bears fragrant, 5 inches., pink to brick-red flowers with prominent bluish purple crowns banded with pink, purple, and white. Oblong, golden fruit is ready for harvest two to three months later; each one may weigh a pound or more. Both yellow passion fruit and giant granadilla need cross-pollination from another passion vine.
Grow passion fruit in well-drained soil, in a spot protected from wind. All types are easy to start from seed sown in flats or pots (be sure seed is fresh). Germination takes 10 to 20 days. From early spring until fall, feed lightly at four- to six-week intervals with a balanced low-nitrogen fertilizer (such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8) that contains micronutrients. Train plants on a trellis, fence, or wall. Harvest purple and yellow passion fruits when fruit turns color and drops to the ground; giant granadilla is ready to pick when it turns deep golden. Prune vines in late winter when they’re not actively growing, removing dead and weak wood. Withhold water during winter. Plants are naturally short lived, generally lasting only three to five years.
Passionate for Passionflower and Passion fruit
Q. I love fresh passion fruit, and would love to grow my own if possible. Can you tell me if there is a variety I can grow in my garden? If my winter weather is too unfriendly, could I grow it in a pot indoors? (I’m assuming that because it’s a vine, it would be too tricky to move outside in the summer.)
- —Gary In Bryn Mawr, PA
This past summer while touring Chanticleer—a Pennsylvania ‘Pleasure Garden’—my husband and I became fascinated with the beautiful Passion Flower Vine and ordered two plants from an Internet site. They have arrived, but I’m not sure if they should be planted outside now or in the Spring. I would hate for them to die from a harsh winter.
- —Ann in Havertown, PA
A. Well, it’s easy to understand how folks can fall in love with those wildly colorful flowers. And while there are over 400 different species in the genus Passiflora—including a famous North American native that can be grown outdoors as far North as upstate New York—I personally can’t imagine planting one outside in PA now.
That native, Passiflora incarnata, known commonly as the Maypop, is an herbaceous perennial whose above ground growth dies back with frost, but whose underground roots can survive winter outdoors with proper care. If the newly arrived plants are the native variety, our old friend and frequent YBYG guest, Dr. Lee Reich thinks they can safely be planted now. Frankly, the thought makes ME shudder; I hope the plants in question are tropical varieties meant to be grown indoors in the winter and moved out in the summer. The species name will tell the tale.
A noted small fruit enthusiast, Lee tells me that he has a real fondness for the native variety, and includes the Maypop in his books “Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden” (Timber Press; 2004) and “Landscaping with Fruit” (Storey; 2009).
When I called Lee for advice on this article, I mentioned that back when I was Editor of Organic Gardening magazine, we got a letter from a woman in Chicago who bragged about a 20-foot long passionflower vine covering her chain link fence just blocks from the White Sox ballpark. I asked him: Could the plants really get that big in one season in such a chilly place?
“Absolutely,” he replied. “They’re incredibly vigorous—and they do all that growing with a really late start. Passionflower vine doesn’t re-appear above ground until late Spring in cold climates, but once it does pop up, it grows like mad.
“She may have even gotten some fruit,” Lee continued, explaining that while some passionflowers are self-fertile, the Maypop is NOT, and so you’d either need a couple of different varieties growing nearby to get fruit or—his preference—to hand-pollinate the plants. “Each passionflower is only open for one day”, he explains, “so you have to go out in the morning and move some of the pollen back and forth between any flowers that are currently open.”
The reward, he explains, is about 50% fruiting success compared to single digit numbers for plants that are insect pollinated—which is performed mostly by carpenter bees, he notes. Lee assures me that hand pollination has yielded a nice flush of fruits from the Maypop vines in his garden in New York State, where winter is much chillier than either of our passionately-hopeful PA gardeners.
Lee suggests that Northern gardeners seeking flowers or fruit plant the Maypop species in loose, compost-rich soil in a warm, well-protected area, preferably facing South (the more sun the plants get, the more flowers they’ll produce and thus more possible fruit). The vines need something to climb on, like a sturdy trellis or chain link fence. Keep the plants well fed and watered as the season progresses, and, if you want to maximize your fruit possibilities, hand-pollinate the flowers as Lee has described. (I personally would also hang wooden nesting blocks nearby to attract their carpenter bee pollinators; see our previous Question of the Week on those big buzzers for the details.)
At the end of the season, allow the top part of the plants to die back naturally; don’t prune them. (You can remove the dead top growth in winter, but don’t disturb the plant close to the soil line.) Mulch the base of the plant well with straw or shredded leaves for insulation, and the vines should regrow nicely from their roots. Remember to be patient; passionflower is going to always be one of the last plants to reappear above ground each season.
Despite this seeming slowness, the root systems can be downright invasive, traveling surprising distances underground and sending up lots of suckers, which should be snapped off as soon as they appear. South of Virginia, the plant can be considered pestiferous, and gardeners in warm regions may want to consider growing it in a pot, which Lee highly recommends. In fact, he tells me he has a potted Maypop in his greenhouse right now. “I grew it in a pot to begin with this year”, he explains. “I enjoyed half a dozen fruits at the end of the season, and then brought it inside covered with more fruits, which I’m hoping will ripen up soon.
“You can grow any passionflower in a pot”, he adds; “even the tropical varieties whose fruits (grown commercially in Hawaii and Australia) are said to have the finest flavor. And they’re not that hard to move outside for the summer; you just need to repot them and prune them back—both roots and top parts—every Spring.”
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How to grow great passionfruit
Passionfruit is a warm-climate plant, but with protection from wind and cold, plants can be grown in cooler areas too. Overseas they’re often grown as indoor plants, but a warm greenhouse will do the trick too.
Words: Jane Wrigglesworth
The common purple passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) is what you typically find in garden centres, although the giant granadilla (Passiflora quadrangularis) is available too. The latter is vigorous, growing up to 15m in one season, and the fruit are as supersized as the plant.
• For either species, choose a warm, sunny spot that’s sheltered from wind and frost. Passionfruit will tolerate a slight frost of minus 1-2°C for brief periods, but prolonged or more severe frosts will kill the growing shoots. The giant granadilla is less hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about +1°C.
• Both require excellent drainage. A free-draining, friable, sandy loam is best. If your soil is soggy, plants are likely to succumb to disease.
• Dig compost and slow-release fertiliser into the soil before planting.
• Passionfruit have a shallow but extensive root system, so they need constant moisture. Water regularly while plants are establishing, and especially during flowering and fruiting. Lack of water may cause fruit to shrivel and drop. Consistent watering, on the other hand, ensures almost constant flowering and fruiting.
• Use mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture, but keep it away from the stem or rot may set in.
• Passionfruit are vigorous plants, so feed regularly from spring through autumn with a citrus fertiliser.
TRAINING AND PRUNING
• Passionfruit make great espalier subjects and are best trained in their initial years. Select vigorous shoots to establish a framework and train them along horizontal wires. Fruiting stems grow off these horizontal laterals. As fruit is formed on the current season’s wood, an annual prune is beneficial. Prune each year around late September or early October, when the plants begin to grow vigorously. Cut the fruiting stems back to two buds, or about 10-15cm.
• Remove any dying stems as passionvine hoppers often lay their eggs here. You can easily spot the eggs which are about 1mm in length and inserted in the stems in neat rows. These bugs aren’t confined to passionfruit vines though and also lay their eggs on other fruit and ornamental plants.
• Ripe fruit falls to the ground, but you can also pick it earlier – when you see it change colour and shrivel slightly – as passionfruit continues to ripen off the vine.
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This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine. Discuss This Article
SERIES 18 | Episode 27
Passionfruit would have to be one of my favourite fruit. The passionfruit vine is a strong, vigorous, evergreen climber, and it originated in South America.
A great spot for a passionfruit vine is one that’s out in the open, has full sun and no trees or competitive roots. Grow it on a structure like a strong trellis.
Passionfruit vines are known for their tendrils, which are little curly spring-like things that attach themselves to wire and really grip on like a python. That’s how they climb.
Often what happens with a passionfruit vine is there is green growth on the outside, where the tendrils have attached themselves, and they have woody material in the centre.
In late winter and early spring it’s time for a clean up. You don’t have to prune hard every year. But in early spring take off about 30 centimetres – that’s ideal.
One of the vines that Gardening Australia filmed suffered signs of stress. It had scale – insects that were sucking the sap and the life out of the plant. There was evidence the bark of the main stem was splitting, because it had been tied up, and there was some form of collar-rot at the base. The poor old vine had to go to passionfruit heaven.
There are many different varieties of passionfruit. Some to look out for include:
The grafted Panama Gold – which has big fruit and its skin is a golden yellow colour.
The Panama Red – which is red skinned, has rather large fruit, and is also grafted. Both are good to grow in the tropics.
But for southern Australia, the grafted Nelly Kelly black passionfruit is my choice.
In the olden days every passionfruit vine was planted on top of a lamb or sheep’s liver, ox heart, or some other piece of offal, to provide iron. Stick it at the bottom of the hole, cover it up a little bit, and then plant the passionfruit as normal.
If you don’t want to use a lamb’s liver, or offal, you could use pelletised chook manure. And scatter that about a metre around the root system. Do this about twice a year. Remember that passionfruit vines are also hungry and thirsty and love a well-drained soil. It’s also a good idea to put some mulch around the root system, to protect it from the hot sun.
In its first year the little vine will tendril its way across the wires. Just nip out the top little bud and it will shoot out laterally. This means you’ll get lots of side shoots, and expect fruit in about 18 months.
Given plenty of food, well-drained soil and lots of water, you will end up with a great passionfruit vine. And, a little tip – when you see the fruit developing, get your little child to get a nail and scratch their name into the fruit and you end up with your own branded passionfruit.
Passion Flower Winter Care Indoors: Tips For Over Wintering Passion Flower
You can grow the passion flower vine (Passiflora spp.) in the ground during normal spring and summer months or you can plant it in a container so you can take the Passiflora indoors during winter. Regardless of what you do, you might ask yourself, “Is it normal to drop leaves during winter months?” In fact, it is normal and is a sign that the plant is going into dormancy for the winter.
Passion Flower Vine Winter Care
Wintering a passion flower plant isn’t that difficult. In fact, passion flower winter care doesn’t require a lot of effort if you bring them indoors.
Over wintering passion flower plants can be done in total dormancy by putting the plants in a dark, cool place. You can also keep some in a cool place to go dormant but let them have some light, or bringing the Passiflora indoors during winter months can simply mean a change of location, allowing them to continue to bloom as if nothing changed.
Passion flower winter care can include regular watering and keeping them active throughout the season, or passion flower vine wintering can include a period of dormancy.
If you allow the plant to go dormant, you will want to keep it in a dark, dry, cool place. It will lose its leaves over the winter months this way. Once in dormancy, water the passion vine about once a month.
Passion flower vine winter care in a sunny location in your home includes turning the pots every few weeks so they get equal sunshine. You also want to provide humidity if you are going to bring your Passiflora indoors during winter because the air inside is much drier than outdoors. Misting and a good humidifier will definitely help.
When springtime returns, you want to put them back outside, but you probably should not jump on it. You should acclimate it to slowly introduce the plant back to the sunlight.
How Long Does it Take Before Berry Fruits?
Once your passion flower vine winter care period is over with and you have replanted your plants outdoors, you may be asking yourself how long it takes before you see the fruits. Your passion flower vine should flower by mid-June and you should see fruits by mid-July in most areas.
Now you know that you can keep your passion flowers safe from winter damage by over wintering passion flowers inside, you can enjoy them even longer. They will go dormant, but will come out healthier, fuller and prettier in the end.
PERRENIAL OF THE WEEK: Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Purple passionflower goes by several common names including true passionflower, wild passionflower, and wild passion vine as well as maypop and wild apricot which refer to the fruit. This fast growing native perennial climbing/trailing vine sports two key features that should entice Ohio gardeners and landscape designers: it produces beautifully complex eye-catching flowers that are 2 – 3″ wide and it produces edible fruit.
The unusual looking flowers are highly attractive to pollinators. Indeed, the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) shown in this image was so impatient, it kept flying to the flower even while I was handling it to take pictures! The flowers mature into edible fruits (maypops) about the size of a chicken egg that are prized for use in jams or jellies. I didn’t know it until I saw this plant yesterday in a naturalized area in Glenwood Gardens (Great Parks of Hamilton County), but this is my new favorite perennial plant. With its food value and strong attraction to insects, what’s not to love?
The scientific name for the genus and some of the common names refers to the passion of Christ in the intricate design of the flower. The large, serrated, dark green deeply lobed (3 – 5 lobs) leaves may measure 5 – 6″ in length and width. They are arranged alternately on the stem with flowers and branches arising from the leaf axils. Tendrils attach the vines to other plants or support structures allowing plants to rise to heights of 10 – 20 ft. Plants dieback during the winter but re-emerge in the spring from underground rhizomes.
Plants will do well in full sun or partial shade and in well-drained, dry to medium dry soils; however, it will tolerate drought. There are over 400 hundred species in the genus Passiflora with the vast majority being tropical vines. However, P. incarnata can survive winter freezes and is listed as growing in USDA zones 6 – 9. Still, it a good idea to plant this species in sites that provide some protection against deep freezes; it is particularly important to protect the underground rhizomes. Plants or seed may be purchased from several sources particularly vendors dealing with native plants or edible plants.