How to grow passionfruit

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Grafted passionfruit are said to fruit earlier and better, but for my money I’d rather grow them from seed. My first passionfruit plant was a grafted ‘Nelly Kelly’ that I bought from my local nursery. Much to my dismay, this plant never yielded me one passionfruit! What it gave me was hours of weeding out the suckers from one end of the garden to the next. It was then that I vowed never to get another grafted plant again but grow it from seed instead.

Passionfruit only last about 7 years so it’s important to get some stock growing well before your last one dies. Before I finally gave up on the ‘Nelly Kelly’ I got started on a some seeds that I got from Diggers Club for a common black passionfruit, Passiflora edulis. There weren’t many seeds and they took a long time to germinate, maybe up to one month. So be patient if you try at home!

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Being a vigorous climbing plant, a passionfruit can take over pretty quickly and can be a pain to keep tidy if left unpruned. If it’s not pruned then it becomes less productive and woody. So it’s important to train the vine onto a very secure support to get the most out of your plant.

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I germinated the seed in spring and then planted the seedling into a 100mm pot to get a bit bigger. It was quite slow to start with, perhaps I didn’t give it enough compost in the potting mix to boost it along. But for the first year I only got one long shoot. This becomes the main trunk of the plant and the base for which all the next year’s growth comes from.

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By the second spring, I planted my shoot out into the garden and enriched the soil with compost and mulch. This gets everything growing now and forms the framework for the entire plant. Pinch out the tip of the shoot and attach the side shoots horizontally to the vertical plane to encourage the main branches to grow. These branches will alternate along the main trunk of the plant (the bit that grew for the first season). You won’t get any flowers yet, so again be patient! It’s important to shape your vine like this because it’s going to make pruning a whole lot easier in the long run and your plant’s going to produce some mighty fine fruit if you do.

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By the third spring, i.e. 2 years after sowing the seed (yikes, it takes that long!) you will get lateral shoots from the branches. These are the fruiting limbs (finally!). Flowers develop all the way down these limbs at the leaf axil. Let these limbs just fall in front of the main branches rather than letting them get tangled in with the rest of the plant. This can become somewhat difficult with very opportunistic tendrils finding anything to cling onto as soon as they touch it. You should bear fruit from this lateral growth every year now.

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After harvesting fruit in autumn or winter, leave the plant to loose it’s leaves if you’re in a cool area because they act like a semi-deciduous plant. If you’re in warm temperate climates the leaves will stay green all year round.

In early spring it’s time to prune before the new growth takes over. You want to now trim back all your lateral growth from last season to about 3 leaf nodes. By doing this you shorten the laterals back close to the main branches. You’ll see the framework of the vine now. The laterals will start to put on growth with a vengeance, so now you simply do what you did last season and let the laterals hang down towards you and watch them flower. Flowers will only be produced on the new growth so if you don’t prune back last year’s branches, you’ll start getting growth starting from the tips of last year’s laterals. Each lateral is capable of growing 1 to 1 1/2 metres (yards) per season. Without pruning you’ll end up with 3 or 4 metre (yard) long branches with flowers only on the last 1/2 metre (yard) and the rest of the vine will get all woody and hard to hold up.

Good pruning means that very spring you keep taking the laterals back to the main branches to within about 20cm (8 inches) of the branch. This way it stays vertical rather than sprawling all over the place and encourages more flowers and fruit.

Remember passionfruit needs enriched soil with loads of compost and mulch every year, but don’t give too much manure otherwise you’ll end up with lovely green leaves but no flowers. Also choose a self-pollinating variety if you only have space to grow one vine. One vine can grow 2 meters (yards) high and have main branches reaching 6 metres (yards) along a fence or support structure.

Vine trained and pruned – check.

Flowers pollinated – check (make sure there’s plenty of bees around).

Fruit is on it’s way to maturity – check.

All that’s left to do now is to find that old recipe for passionfruit yo-yo biscuits … YUM! YUM!

  1. Jane says:

    Hi, do you think I could grow a passionfruit up a steep embankment. to cover a rocky, weedy bank? Cheers, Jane

  2. Kathy T says:

    Hi, I’ve purchased a Grafted Ned Kelly from Bunnings, it produces heaps of flowers but not much fruit. We seem to lack bees in our area. The vine keeps sending suckers all over the place that I keep yanking out. We just had our first fruit and it turned out to be a yellow panama even though we thought it would be a purple one. The fruit was delicious and full of pulp. We seem to have a problem with aphids which in return attracts ants. Any idea how to get rid of them? the flowers don’t seem to open. Do I have to hand pollinate it? We live in the Liverpool area of NSW.
    Our vine faces North on a trellis attached to a wall.

  3. sarah says:

    Hi I have the large yellow passionfruit and it has yielded a great crop this year but unfortunately they just stay large,green and shrivel up. Any ideas?

  4. hello,
    please i had 20 acres of organic yellow passion fruits farm in my country Ghana.but i had been facing problems with the pruning.
    please i need your help me know how to prune the passion fruits tree,
    thank you
    Atta cashmere
    tel.+233 244 522 336

  5. Daisy says:

    I have a ned kelly black passion fruit vine and it is 2 to 3 years old. It is growing very profusely and spreading to almost 3 metres from fence to over my climbing roses and faces all day sun. It is fruiting quite a lot now(I have only about 5 fruits last year and the possums got to them before me) and the fruits are bigger than a kiwi fruit , the fruits are still very green and there are more young fruits developing. As winter is approaching( I am in Melbourne Eastern suburb) I am wondering if all the fruits will ever ripen as 2 large fruits have already fallen on the ground and I think the possum has got to them. Please advise to whether the fruits will ripen in this cold weather.
    Thanks very much

  6. Waeom says:

    It’s Winter here in Australia and when Spring kicks in I’ll prune the 2 vines we have and follow your guide… One of our vines is 18 months or so old and is producing a few passionfruit, so hopefully a bit more care will yield more fruit next year!
    Excellent article, thanks!

  7. Shirley G says:

    I live in Santa Monica, CA, USA. my passionfruit was grown from seed by a friend, and was planted as a seedling about 18 months ago. The variety is (I think) Passiflora edulis (purple). i have lots & lots of foliage & several flowers this year. But I’m wondering whether the blooms will turn to fruit. (my friend’s vine from the same seeds has bloomed & yielded wonderfully) i’ve looked, but not found answers to these questions…

    1) how long between an individual bloom & the fruit of that bloom?

    2) does the dried bloom have to stay on the vine for the fruit to grow? What happens if it falls off?

    thanks so much for your help! I’ve learned a LOT from your site.

    ~Shirley

  8. The Veggie Lady says:

    Shirley G –
    1) You will see the bloom develop into a fruit fairly quickly. It would take less than a month if the flower has been successfully pollinated.
    2) Leave the dried flower on the vine, sometimes it can be difficult to see if the fruit is actually growing. If it falls off then it means that the flower has not been successfully pollinated or fertilized.

  9. I’ve planted a grafted NellieKelly with a northeasterly aspect. It has grown well with loads of flowers and yellow fruit which don’t darken and have only the beginnings of white tiny growths inside. The fruit grow to a fair size, stay yellow and soft then fall off. It is lightly drip irrigated, once a week , with seasol every couple of months. What am I doing wrong ???

  10. Debbie says:

    My passionfruit has heaps of flowers and then fruit but they don’t ripen. there is plenty of flesh in them also the few we do mange to ripen are sweet and juicy.

  11. The Veggie Lady says:

    Graeme Blakey and Debbie – fruit drop is often due to inconsistent watering or variable conditions, i.e particularly dry spell or sudden cold snap. Fruit can develop without enough time to ripen if they are pollinated late in the season and weather becomes too cold for the vine to hold the fruit for long enough.
    The vine needs boron and other trace elements to see it through to maturity too. A good feed with complete fertiliser is needed at the beginning of the season. Too much fertiliser can promote leaf and shoot growth at the expense of flowers, so flowers eventually come too late in the season.

  12. Jill Sharp says:

    I have a Nellie that I have just found out is not growing from the rootstock but the side shoots. I have had the plant for about 12 months and unfortunately the family dog liked it a lot. I have now cut the shoots below the rootstock but I’m not sure that it will grow due to the dog eating the rootstock. Should I persevere with this plant or just start again!
    Many thanks,
    Jill

  13. Jann says:

    I bought a rather large 7ft passion fruit vine from anawalt a couple of months ago. it was thriving and continued growing and showing flowers when i put it in a larger pot a couple of weeks later (no ground in my apartment building, only pots) a couple of weeks ago–after 6 weeks- the leaves wilted and turned brown OVER NIGHTt! it’s gotten worse each day…and i’m pretty sure there’s no reviving it.

    i gave it some super thrive soon after the leaves turned. took it out of the sun. (i had it in full eastern sun–but it had been pretty hot the past couple of weeks, however, it had still been flowering and producing fruit, regardless.) now it’s in semi-sun…but seems like a lost cause. vines are woody, leaves are lifeless. :( I generally have good luck with plants, but this was my first passion fruit. and just like that, it went. strange?

    my neighbor told me that the night before she’d put in a praying mantis egg on the soil. i asked her to remove it. that night, i’d also noticed that the soil had a wide, dark mark across it. i’m wondering if the mantis eggs had anything to do with it. or…there had a been a couple of strays around–maybe the cats used the pot as a litter box? one other clue, i mistakenly bought garden soil instead of potting soil. could that have been a factor? but i had given it fruit tree fertilizer when i repotted it. and it was so happy. any ideas? thank you!

  14. bizibee says:

    Hi, I have several vines most of them producing fruit – not copious amounts but reasonable except the Red or Pandora I am not sure. Just within 30 metres we have bees using the vents as their hive and producing honest between the wall and the lining so can’t say no bees around. What could cause the vine to grow extremely well but flowers don’t turn to fruit? I normally use Seaweed and not much nitrogen fert and water regularly.Next to it we have another Gold vine which bears really well although some vandal rips the vine off and gets rid off the fruit before they are ready.

  15. The Veggie Lady says:

    Hhhmmm, difficult to say.
    Could you have over fed the plant at repotting stage?
    Too much fertiliser (especially synthetic) can be cause of burn or toxicity. Excess fertiliser can be released during hot conditions.
    A cat peeing will add to the problem.
    Also have a look at the main trunk at the base near the soil. Any sign of rot around the stalk may indicate too much moisture.

  16. The Veggie Lady says:

    You might have to try hand pollinating.

  17. John says:

    Am John from Uganda, i have 4 acres of land non grafted passion fruit, they are three month old, you also know about international market.

  18. David says:

    I have a passion fruit that has been in four years, no one flower. It is 4m long side to side and 1.5 high, full sun. I live in SW Sydney, please help

  19. Julianne says:

    I have just bought a Black Edulis, grafted , from Woolies supermarket. Have you had a crop yet? Are you happy with this variety?

  20. The Veggie Lady says:

    Black Edulis is the standard black variety, tried and tested with the thumbs up!

  21. Cheryl says:

    My passionfruit vine has just finished a lovey crop of passionfruits and I thought that was the end for this season. I didn’t have time to prune the vine and a lot of buds and flowers are appearing am I going to get another batch of fruit? I have counted around 50 to 70 buds on the vine

  22. The Veggie Lady says:

    Yes you should get another crop.
    Leave them on to develop now and tidy up the vine next season.

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