Passionfruit Growing Guide

The summer favourite of passionfruit grows well in the warmest parts of New Zealand. The climbing vine and striking flowers make it an attractive (and delicious!) addition to the garden. Check out our tips for growing passionfruit in your garden.

Passionfruit is a vigorous, climbing vine that clings by curly tendrils to almost any support. It can grow very quickly under good conditions - up to six metres in one year. The evergreen leaves of the vine provide a shelter for the fragrant exotic looking white and purple flowers that appear on the new growth.

Passionfruit flowers are a striking flower with a prominent central structure designed to attract pollinating insects. The fruit are small and round with a tough rind that is smooth and waxy. The colour of the rind ranges from purple to yellow and orange. This protective exterior hold ups to 200 small, dark seeds. The unique flavour is a combination of tangy, musky, sweet and tart that is popular in desserts!

Prepare

Plant vines in full sun except in very hot areas, where partial shade is preferable. The vines grow in many soil types, but light to heavy sandy loams, pH 6.5-7.5, are the most suitable. Passionfruit require excellent drainage and the soil should be rich in organic matter. Dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and compost to your soil before planting. If the soil is too acidic, apply Tui Lime.

The purple passionfruit is subtropical and therfore requires a frost-free climate. The vines may lose some leaves in the cool winters. In areas where frosts are prevalent, passionfruit can be grown under a balcony or on a sunny patio or deck. Passionfruit will grow well in containers but require a structure to support the vine.

Top varieties for the home garden:

Black Beauty - flowers are white and purple and fruit is egg shaped, dark purple with juicy yellow-orange pulp filled with small black seeds. Black Beauty is self fertile and can grow 1.5-7 metres per year once established. Fruit changes from green to dark purple when ready and is harvested from March to June.

Giant Granadilla - the very large, showy red, purple and white flowers are fragrant and hang from the vine because of their weight. Oval 30cm fruit turns a rich golden green with a fruity aroma when ripe, in summer to late autumn. A vigorous evergreen vine with deep green leaves, it can grow 17m in a single season. Self fertile and insect pollinated, however hand pollination can increase fruit set.

Sweet Granadilla - has a very attractive white and purple flowers followed by large, round orange fruit. The pulp is delicious and juicy. A self fertile variety that is fast growing.

Red Banana (sometimes called Vanilla) - large, red flowers followed by oblong yellow fruit and sweet, juicy, aromatic pulp. Red Banana needs a long, warm summer to ripen. Hand pollination will help with fruit set. Closely related to the banana passionfruit, but not as vigorous.

Banana passionfruit is classed as a noxious weed, so is not recommended to grow in the home garden.

Plant

Plant passionfruit between mid-spring and mid-summer, or even later in very favourable conditions. Plant vines next to a sheltered wall, trellis, or deck sheltered from the wind. If planting more than one, space vines no less than two metres apart. Passionfruit vines can fruit about 18 months after the vine has been planted.

Check plant labels for individual planting instructions. The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away.

Planting passionfruit in the garden:

  • Dig a hole approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant and partly fill with Tui Garden Mix.
  • Gently loosen the root ball of your plant.
  • Place the plant in the hole, and fill in with Tui Garden Mix, ensuring the tree is no deeper than it was in the container or bag.

Planting passionfruit in pots and containers:

  • Partly fill with Tui Garden Mix, and tap on the ground to settle the mix.
  • Gently loosen the root ball of your plant.
  • Place your plant in the pot, and fill in with Tui Garden Mix, ensuring the tree is no deeper than it was in the container or bag.

Nourish

Feed your plants and they will feed you. Replenishing nutrients used by your passionfruit ensures they will grow to their full potential. When temperatures warm up in spring start feeding passionfruit with a fertiliser rich in potassium (potash) such as Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser for optimum flowering and fruiting. Feed during the warm months of the growing season - spring and summer.

Regular watering will keep a vine flowering and fruiting well. Water requirement is high when fruit are approaching maturity. During a dry summer, deep watering is required. If the soil is dry fruit may shrivel and fall early.

Tui Tips

  • In spring when the risk of frost has passed remove weak or dead growth, reduce vigorous shoots by about one third and thin out overcrowded growth and vines that are growing where you don’t want them. Pruning will ensure the vine is vigorous and produces fruit.
  • Mulch around passionfruit with Tui Mulch & Feed to conserve water, replenish nutrients and suppress weeds.
  • Fruit ripens during mid summer - winter. The fruit will take two to three months to ripen. You know fruit is ripe when its dark purple and you can gently shake tree and fruit falls off.
  • Harvest in the morning before sun can burn fruit.
  • Poor weather can affect pollination of passionfruit. Plant a variety of flowers to attract pollinating insects or hand pollinate the flowers.

After recipe inspiration? Try Janine's tasty Passionfruit and Coconut Tart here >