Do you know how expensive passionfruit can be? It’s outrageous to pay for something that you can grow so easily at home! We love passionfruit, and it was the first major food crop we grew here at the Self Sufficient Me home garden. Using my top tips on how to grow a ton of passionfruit, you can grow it too.
Passionfruit vines are typically a subtropical or tropical plant, and originate in South America. They are frost and drought sensitive with an ideal temperature range of 20-28C (68-82F). In these climates (US zones 10-12), passionfruit will thrive, and can be grown in either sun or shade. The thick-skinned Panama varieties are recommended for tropical and equatorial regions, as they will better withstand the humidity and pest pressure in those areas.
You can grow passionfruit in temperate regions too, provided it has a warm, frost-free position. Purple varieties such the nellie kelly are recommended for this cooler climate as they are specifically bred for it. Even through my subtropical winter, I’ve noticed that purple varieties grow better than the yellow ones, which tend to die off as the temperatures drop. Cool to cold climates (about zone 9 and below) will struggle to grow passionfruit outdoors. A hothouse or greenhouse would be required in any regions that experience frost.
True to Type
I recommend that you select a passionfruit variety that is true-to-type. This means, collect the seed from a passionfruit that will grow back exactly the same as the parent plant and produce fruit of the same quality.
Some varieties sold by nurseries are hybridised to improve taste, or grafted on to a hardy rootstock to give them better disease resistance. Personally, I prefer to find a variety that already has these qualities and grow it from seed. I then grow its progeny over and over in my own garden. This not only gives me excellent fruit every season but improves the plant strength and resilience too.
To sow passionfruit seed, simply place the seeds into a pot and cover lightly with potting mix. Keep moist (use a simple sprayer) and keep in the shade. After a few weeks they’ll germinate, and will be ready for pricking out into individual pots. Let them grow into small plants, then set them a few feet apart when planting out.
Whether you should use fresh or dried seed is a debateable issue when it comes to passionfruit. While using fresh passionfruit seed is said to be best, it is also true that that fresh seed is coated with a jelly-like substance that may inhibit germination. In reality, this may simply mean that germination from fresh seed takes a bit longer than expected. Ultimately, both fresh and dried seed should germinate, so I suggest using what is readily available to you.
A strong and substantial support structure is essential for passionfruit, as it will become a big and heavy plant. This is especially true if you’re growing several vines together on the one trellis. My trellis has a couple of posts that are fully cemented in, plus several star pickets between those. Attached to that is some strong concrete reinforcing mesh (reo), that I use as a trellising material. I find this gives it plenty of room & allows it to sprawl out.