• Passionfruit pavlova ice-cream sandwiches (Benito Martin)
The passionfruit vine is a traditional backyard favourite in Australia. They are vigorous climber and incredibly productive – what better way to cover an ugly fence or shed while returning a bumper crop of delicious home-grown fruit.
By
Phil Dudman

6 Sep 2012 - 3:31 PM  UPDATED 6 Jul 2017 - 11:47 AM

At a glance

Ease of culture: moderate
Best climate: widely adaptable, but hates frost
When to plant: spring most areas, dry season in tropics
Size: Vines spread to approx. 10m²
Pollination: self-fertile
First harvest: 6-12 months
Prune: Late winter/early spring
pH: 5.5-6.5

 

Climate

• Passionfruit are most suited to subtropical and temperate climates, but are quite adaptable to other areas
• They will grow in cold areas where adequate frost protection is provided.
• Vines grow rapidly in tropical areas, but are often short lived due to heavy rainfall and susceptibility to root rot disease.

 

Position

• Passionfruit vines prefer full sun with protection from strong winds
• Vines are sensitive to frost. In cold areas, plant vines in a warm protected spot in front of a north facing wall where they will benefit from reflected heat.

 

Soil

• Passionfruit like a well-drained soil rich in organic matter
• Prepare soil by incorporating plenty of compost and well-rotted manure to a planting zone 1-2m wide
• The preferred pH is 5.5-6.5

 

Choosing stock

• Nurseries will mostly stock vines that have been grafted onto hardy rootstocks that are suited to local conditions and with good resistance to root diseases.
• Old fashioned purple varieties can be grown from seed and are often available for purchase as seed grown vines. These types are the best choices for cool areas.

 

Planting

• Springtime, after the last frost is the best time to plant vines in most areas
• In the tropics, the most suitable time to plant is at the beginning of the dry season
• Passionfruit vines are vigorous and will spread a distance of 3-4 m in one growing season, even more in warmer climates. Choose or erect a support structure that will accommodate a vine of this size

 

Box: Show your support

Fast growing passionfruit vines are useful for creating quick screening on a fence or shading over a pergola, shed or chicken coup. Supporting structures need to be solid to handle the weight of the vines. To make your own, put up two posts, 2m high and 6-7m apart and in a north south direction. Run two wires between them; one at the top and the other 45cm lower. Plant your vine in the middle, training a single leader on vertical length of string or stake to the top horizontal wire. When it gets there, pinch out the growing tip to encourage two leaders and train them either side.

 

Watering

• Water deeply in times of extended dry – dry soil will lead to flower and fruit drop. Leaf drop at the base of vines can be another sign of dryness.
• Passionfruit roots are wide spreading. When watering established vines, soak a wide area – in a 3-5 m radius from the base of the trunk.

 

Fertilising

Feed vines with a well-balance all-purpose organic fertiliser early spring and early autumn to keep plants in good productive health

 

Pruning/training

• Vines need to be trained and pruned to avoid a tangled mess and to keep flowers accessible to pollinating bees
• Guide or prune excessive growth lightly at any time of the growing season (spring to autumn) to keep vines in check.
• Flowers and fruit form on new growth in spring (and autumn in warmer areas), so carry out any major or hard pruning as required in early spring. Pruning will encourage lots of new growth on which flowers will form.

 

Harvesting

• The first fruit will appear 6-8 months after planting with the best crops after 18months
• Fruit needs to ripen fully on the vine to develop their sweet flavour – they will not ripen off the vine
• Fruit will drop off the vine when ready. Pick up fallen fruit regularly.  Fruit can also be picked off the vine when they are full-coloured and come away from the vine easily.
• Fruit will store in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks. The pulp can also be spooned into ice cube trays and frozen for later use
• Vines generally perform well for 3-5 years after which they need to be replaced

 

Box: Poor fruit set and fruit drop

• Poor fruit set can be caused by a number of factors
• Excessive fertilising which sends vines into luxuriant growth at the expense of flowers and fruit
• Extremes of weather conditions; very hot, cold, wet and dry and windy conditions – all of which can damage pollen
• Absence of bees – prune excessive foliage to expose flowers, or pollinate flowers by hand
• Dry soils will cause developing fruit to drop early or wrinkle
• Fruit that has been stung by fruit fly will shrivel and drop