Grow Your Own Passionfruit ~ My 5 Best Tips
In all honesty, our passionfruit vine is one of the most low maintenance plants in our yard. This is mostly due to the fact that our climate is extremely suitable to growing passionfruit—and so much of gardening is about climate. Passionfruit vines thrive in warm, tropical climates (mainly garden zones 9-11). If you are interested in growing passion fruit yourself, Fall and early Spring are good times to purchase a vine and get started.
PS: if you need to know your gardening zone, you can easily look it up HERE.
About Passionfruit Vine
Passionvines need a warm climate and are best suited to zones 9-11. It is not a very frost tolerant vine, but our Winters occasionally get down to about 32 degrees F and our established vine has no issues. Their vigorous (borderline invasive) growth habit makes passionvine the perfect evergreen for growing as a privacy screen or for quickly covering an arbor. I’m growing in Zone 10b, so we get almost zero frosty days.
There are many different types of passion vines that boast stunning passion flowers, but only some specific types produce edible fruit! If you are looking to grow passion vine in order to enjoy the delicious fruit, I highly recommend Passiflora Edulis ‘Frederick’—which is the only variety we grow currently. There are some varieties of passionfruit that are known to handle colder climates, but since I don’t have experience with those, I can’t speak for their fruit or their care. I’d ask at a local nursery or find a local gardener to see what they recommend.
While it is possible to grow your own passionfruit from seed, I highly recommend you buy a seedling or plant from a nursery. Truthfully, one vine will supply you with more passionfruit than you’ll need, and the chances are good for fruit the first year if you buy a plant in a 5, 10, or 15 gallon pot. Additionally, if you happen to have a fellow gardener or friend who grows passion fruit, you can also propagate passionfruit vine cuttings to create new plants! Get my full propagation tutorial HERE!
My Best Tips & Practices
1〉 Choose the right variety
A little bit of research goes a long way here. First, some passionfruit vines produce fruit that is NOT edible. If you are planning to grow passionfruit to collect and eat the fruit, be sure you purchase a variety that specifically states it is edible. Visiting a local nursery is a great way to see what grows in the area and you can read the tag descriptions as well.
Second, if you truly want a vine that will be low-maintenance and stay healthy, select the right variety for your climate. The variety we grow, Passiflora Edulis ‘Frederick’ is excellent for warm climates like 10b. Thankfully, it is also known as one of the best tasting passionfruits!
2〉 Choose the right location
Passionfruit vines need support. Trust me. Our little plants started at 1 foot tall and quickly grew over ten feet long in one season…and are now between 20-30 feet long. The vines are vigorous with insanely large root systems. Plan for a location near a sturdy trellis and preferably with room for the root system to expand in the ground. You can grow passionfruit in a pot (we have one!) but it probably won’t be as productive as one in the ground. If you do that, choose the largest pot you can.
Our passionvine is planted on a West facing wall so it gets sun for the majority of the day. The vines definitely thrive in full sun, especially once established. Another advantage of it being along a wall is wind protection. Young passion vines can be blown over or damaged in the wind. Provide a sturdy trellis and plan for wind issues if you live in areas susceptible to high winds.
You might also want to consider the fact that passion fruit drops to the ground when ripe. This could be a problem if you let it sprawl over a fence between you and a neighbor. Your vine could end up taking over their side of the fence and then dropping fruit all over their backyard (some neighbors might love this….others might not). We prefer to provide our own trellis for the passionvine so it does not bother others AND won’t damage a fence. In case you are wondering, I purposely included that note from personal experience 😉
Related Article: Things to Consider When Buying a Fruit Tree
3〉 Good drainage
I’ve got a little story for this tip! When we first purchased our baby passionvines (from a local nursery), I had put two in the ground and one in a pot. One day I noticed that my passionvine in the pot was turning yellow, drooping, and losing its leaves. I panicked. As someone who gardens a lot, the damage really looked like overwatering, but I knew I had not been watering that much. Later that day I looked under the pot and the passionvine root had grown into the drainage hole—-it was completely clogged! So, my problem wasn’t overwatering, it was that the plant had no drainage and was becoming waterlogged. Lesson: make sure your pot has drainage holes and take note that passionvines like well-draining soil. Apparently, passionvines are also susceptible to root rot and nematodes, so clay-like soil that doesn’t drain well would not be a great place for them.
*A note on watering: being a tropical plant, passionfruit does need good & consistent watering to be happy. That being said, once established, the plant doesn’t need as much water. It shades its own base really well, so you’ll see that the ground retains more moisture. Dead leaves you remove from the plant can be dropped around the base as a mulch as well.
For all our landscape fruit trees, we have mainline polytubing irrigation with individual emitters that we select based on the type of tree. Read all about Water & Irrigation Basics ~ Insights from Our Garden for more details. As the passionvione becomes more established, you can change emitters to allow less water to flow.
4〉 Side dress with compost & fertilize
Despite being relatively low maintenance, passion vine does like nutrient rich soil. Anything high in nitrogen will promote mostly just green, leafy growth, so I opt for compost to provide some balanced nutrition. Once or twice a year (usually Spring and late Summer) I put some of our homemade compost around the base of the plants. They love it! I also mulch around the base afterwards using any dead leaves shed from the vine. Mulching helps to protect the root system.
We rarely fertilize our passion vine, but for all our fruit trees we use Kellogg’s Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer about once or twice a year.
If you would like some interesting tidbits on compost, mulch, and details on how we like to amend our soil, check out Amending Your Soil Organically Between Seasons and Let’s Talk Mulch! Mulching a Backyard Garden. I also have a full Compost 101 section so you can learn to make your own compost and build your soil!
5〉 Trimming & pruning for health
Passionvines are really hard to kill. Our Frederick fruit typically ripens in late Summer/early Fall. We usually do a very aggressive pruning in Spring as it is warm and the plant starts to grow again . We simply trim it down to a size that we can reach/train while getting rid of any dead growth on the inside. Sometimes, on the inside near the trellis or wall, dead leaves and branches will accumulate and you want pull them out to allow for airflow. It’s not a very scientific process, but we try and not cut any thick, main branches. The main concern each year is simply controlling how crazy the vines get!
You’ll notice that the main trunk will start to get thicker and more woody every year. Passion vines won’t last forever. Eventually the trunks get older and more wood-like and will fruit less. The lifespan of passion vines can range anywhere from 5-10 years, depending on variety and conditions. If you suspect your vine might be slowing down, I highly recommend taking some cuttings to propagate new vines! Make sure to check out my tutorial on how to propagate passion fruit vines from cuttings.
Adding fruit trees to your landscape is an excellent long term investment. Not only is tasty, organic fruit expensive, but having established fruit trees will add to your property value. Check out my Things to Consider Before Buying a Fruit Tree for some tips on getting started. Enjoy your edible landscape adventure!