Passionfruit are among the most productive of backyard crops, especially when the bees do their thing.
Here Linda Ross gives you everything you need to know about growing them successfully.
Passionfruit loves a warm, sunny, sheltered spot that drains quickly. Passionfruit grows by tendrils so ensure a support for it to twine onto. Expect vines to grow 2.5m high and wide. Flowers appear in spring and summer, with fruit ready to pick in autumn. In temperate zones like Sydney passionfruit may take 12-18 months to fruit and flower.
Feed regularly with citrus food or with chicken manure, blood and bone and potash. Water is vital when the vine is newly planted and when it’s flowering and forming fruit.
Prune in spring. Cut back one or two of the main stems by about a third, trimming the lateral stems and cutting out some of the denser growth to allow better air circulation and fruit development in the following season. Excessive summer growth can be tied onto the trellis or removed. Vines become straggly and non-productive after about five years and should be replaced.
The bane of growers is suckering. The understock (P. caerulea) has thinner, five-lobed leaves, a blue flower and no fruit! Remove suckers and if a vine dies remove the entire rootstock to prevent suckers appearing for years. Reduce suckering by not digging near the vine.
Look for plants grafted onto the non-suckering rootstock, P. edulis flavicarpa, which is also disease-resistant. Alternatively, grow from seed or cuttings.
Fruit failing to form after flowering is due to poor pollination. Try pollinating with a paintbrush and encourage bees by planting rosemary, lavender or borage in the vicinity.
Fruit failing to ripen can be due to low winter temperatures. Fruit may ripen on a sunny windowsill.
Fusarium wilt is the main disease of passionfruit. The first symptom is wilting leaves and spotting on leaves and fruits, which then begin to fall. Use Eco-fungicide and spray with Yates Antirot.
‘Ned Kelly’ is a common garden variety with black skin and juicy fruit. It does have a tendency to sucker to keep a watch. Best for the southern states.
‘Panama Red’ needs to be planted with another passionfruit. It has large red-skinned fruit and is grafted.
‘Panama Gold’ is self-fertile so can be planted on its own.