Marianne CannonGrowing passionfruit

Plant a passionfruit – or two! I talk with horticulturist Sabina Fielding-Smith about passionfruit, including Panama Red, Panama Gold, Nellie Kelly and Banana passionfruit. Almost every garden has space for one passionfruit vine, so try to find a suitable spot against a sunny fence or wall.

Passionfruit Photo YIM Hafiz

In the podcast, (click on the audio above) Sabina explains about:

– varieties to grow in different Australian climates, from cool to tropical

– grafted varieties

– how to prepare the soil and train your passionfruit, and how long your plant will last

Passionfruit flowerProblems with passionfruit

“I get flowers but no fruit, not even with hand pollination”

The most common reasons for passionfruit vines having lots of flowers but no fruit are:-
1. Lack of pollinators, i.e, bees.
2. Temperatures too hot or cold during flowering.
3. Long periods of overcast weather during flowering –vines in southern Victoria are prone to this problem.
4. Growing in too much shade.
5. Not enough water during flowering.
6. Lack of boron or other trace elements.
One other reason for a lack of fruit on grafted vines can sometimes be that the vigorous rootstock has sprouted and outgrown the scion without the grower realising. Check the leaves on your plant.
The understock has a palm shaped leaf, whereas the Nellie Kellie has an oval shaped leaf if you’re not sure about this.

[Like to know more? Here’s another post on Growing Passionfruit by Jennifer Stackhouse]

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Marianne Cannon

About Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon has been broadcasting as Real World Gardener on radio 2RRR 88.5fm in Sydney, since September 2009, and the program is now syndicated to radio stations around Australia. It's about growing your own, the abc of plants, and how to create sustainable gardens to fit into today's environment. Not just a show about plants; it has a strong green and ecological bent, with co-presenters addressing issues such as native animals and plants, water conservation, composting, reducing waste, protecting native species and more.

20 thoughts on “Growing passionfruit

  1. Pingback: Growing passionfruit | GardenDrum

  2. Now I know why my passion fruit is sending up suckers all over the garden. Is it true that if you remove the passion fruit plant the suckers will remain?

    • Hello Lois,
      yes if you remove the passionfruit, the suckers do remain. I have a friend in the Adelaide Hills who has the exact same problem. I recommended that the passionfruit should be removed because the graft union was not successful, and she would end up with suckers all over the garden.
      You can paint the suckers with a herbicide of your choice, but this will still take a while. Make a cut in the unwanted plant, and paint on neat herbicide immediately so that the plant doesn’t have a chance to callous over the wound.
      The alternative is to dig them up as they appear.

  3. Thanks Marianne. Helpful information here. I have had a variety of success with passionfruit. The best was with two random vines that grew where a bird dropping germinated. Best crop of fruit ever.
    I have planted panama red and panama gold about a metre apart, hoping for cross pollination, and ended up with green skinned fruit – that strangely, were v lovely and sweet, although they looked unripe for ages and I had left them on the vine, waiting for them to change colour. Cut the vine back and am waiting to see what it produces this year.

    • Hello Julie,

      interesteing cross pollination from the two varieties. Not all crosses produce the best fruit or fruit colour. It often takes many years for pro’s in the industry to produce a hybrid that’s suitable for sale because of the possibility of so many genetic variations. Let me know next Spring what the vine produces!

  4. Hi Marianne, My nellie kellie friut is shrivelling and I can see small black insects at the stem have sprayed with weak coffee soloution is confidor to harsh

  5. Hello Paul

    The black insects sound like aphids. If they’re small in number just rub them off and squash them. If they’re only on a couple of stems, you can just prune off those stems or blast them with jets of water.
    Confidor will work but it’s not good to use when bees are around because it interferes with their navigation back to their hives.
    Aphids can be controlled with a soap spray like Yates Natrasoap, or make up a soap solution yourself with pure soap flakes.
    Another method is to spray with a horticultural oil, taking care not to spray any product on windy days or when temperatures are expected to rise above 30 deg C.
    The shrivelling may be due to any number of reasons. Some of these are (i) underwatering,(ii) root or collar rot or (iii)Fusarium wilt if the leaves are shrivelling all over and the plant is limp as well.
    If it’s the latter, there’s not much you can do other than to start again.
    Another cause is a virus that attacks the vine when vines are under any sort of stress (such as cold weather, lack of water, lack of nutrients), the disease shows up then and slows growth. Affected leaves are yellow and mottled.
    Let me know how you get on.

    • Thanks for the tips I made a brew up of chilli, garlic, and a few drops of earth garden detergent I’ll see how that goes cheers, thanks again!

  6. Hi Marianne,

    I have a Nelly Kelly that has flowered and fruited quite late in the summer and is now bearing lots of big juicy looking, but completely green fruit. They have been like that now for a few weeks and I am wondering if there will be any possibility that they will ripen or not? Or if there is anything I can do to help it along?

    • Hello Susie,
      it depends of where you live.
      In cooler climates, ie, well south of Sydney, I would say not.
      Gardeners here, should only expect one crop a year.
      However, further north, in temperate or hot climates, you should see them eventually colouring up. Passionfruit crops in late summer and late winter in warm to hot climates normally.
      Commercial farmers might spray ethylene over their crop to encourage faster ripening.
      This might be like putting unripe fruit next to bananas in a brown paper bag, but green passionfruit don’t ripen off the vine.
      Try a couple of brown bags with a banana inside, tied to just a few fruit to see if that helps.
      The only other suggestion I have is that you could lay some black plastic on the ground around the plant to generate more heat.

      Hope you have some success soon!

  7. Hi Marianne,
    I have a very healthy looking passionfruit vine growing along a fence in good sun, on a reasonable slope. I live on the lower mountain ridge of Buderim Queensland so rainfall has been more than adequate (a previous vine grew in this location and produced beautifully). The current vine has produced a good quantity of large fruit. However, they fail to ripen, ultimately shriveling and now dropping off the vine. There does not appear to be any mite, fungus, or other visible pests. I tried removing some fruit while green to see if they would ripen, without success. When cut open the fruit is filled with immature seeds which remain this way. I would be grateful for any suggestions. Many Thanks – Bev Young

  8. Hi Marianne……Have only just started growing Passionfruit, it is thriving I have one fruit and many many flowers…have been told that I should prune it, when is the best time to do that. Many thanks..

    • Hello Janet,

      The best time to prune passion fruit is in Spring. As yours is a young plant, wait for it to reach the top of your fence or trellis, pinch out the top to encourage side growth.
      Every year, you have to cut it back in Spring by cutting out dead wood and cutting the side growth back. This is because passion fruit forms fruit on new growth each season. Doing this every year. Keeps your vine fruiting instead of turning into a clump of dead wood with only a few leaves on top.
      Good luck.


  9. Hello Bev,

    Sometimes if you have a heavy crop your vine can’t support the fruit and aborts it instead. This is normal and not caused by pest or disease.
    You don’t mention what fertilising regime you’ve used, but Passionfruit need heaps of fertiliser, up to 2 kg usually given in three doses during the growing season. Ie. Spring, Summer and Autumn.
    Citrus fertiliser is ideal. Organic fertiliser or the other is O.K.
    Typical nutrient numbers on the back of the pack might be
    (N:P:K) 10.7: 2.6: 10.5, where N is Nitrogem, P is Phosphorus and K is Potassium.
    Blood ‘n Bone or chook Poo isn’t sufficient.
    At this stage it’s probably a bit late. Try using liquid feeds with fertilisers that say they’re for fruiting and flowering.
    One other thing, Passionfruits don’t ripen off the vine.
    All the best with your Passionfruits.


  10. Hello Sharon,
    hmm western wall!
    Unless you’re in a cool temperate climate the western wall sounds like a hot problem. But I’m guessing you’re giving it plenty of water and the plant never gets stressed.
    Someone asked me recently about their Bouganvillea never flowering.
    I suggested adding Sulphate of Potash around the root zone, and hey presto, the next time I saw the lady, she said her Bouganvillea had flowered. I know it’s a different plant, but no flowering suggests a lack of potassium. Sulphate of Potash comes in a granular form from one of the big box stores, local hardware or garden centres. You can also try the Flower and Fruit fertilisers if you can’t find the Potash.
    Potash works best though.
    Hope that helps

  11. Hi
    I think I made a huge mistake… I have a young Nellie Kelly ungrafted. I am no Gardner but thought that I should prune off side shoots till main stem was tall enough to begin attaching to trellis. I also thought this would help strengthen the main stem.
    So after cutting off the 3-4 side shoots to the main stem, I now think I may have made a mistake?

  12. Dear Effie,

    The huge consensus about pruning passionfruit, grafted or ungrafted is that passionfruit vines don’t need pruning to encourage fruiting. All you need to do is to remove overgrown growth or keep the vine under control. It can take off an start climbing where you don’t want it to. The best time to prune is in spring as new growth starts after winter. Avoid removing main stems, just cut back unwanted twining stems so you may be still OK if you left the main stem.

    • Thank you! I left the main stem (don’t know if it has more than 1 main stem) but it now looks exactly the same as when I bought it!!! Hoping it will gain some growth now… will see

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