Jennifer StackhouseGrowing passionfruit

Now I don’t want to gloat, but here it is winter and we’ve been enjoying delicious, homegrown passionfruit for months. Which is just as well for my vine’s survival, as we didn’t see any crop at all last summer. Spring and most of summer went by with lots of growth but few flowers. It was if you recall a cool, grey summer along the east coast, but towards the end of summer the vine gave up sulking and burst into flower. By the first days of autumn it was bedecked with green fruit.

Often this late crop just sits on the vine and then is discarded before it ripens. But this year the crop held on – despite frosty mornings and cold, windy days – and has ripened.

The fruit hasn’t ripened all at once but gradually giving me a steady supply to eat fresh with a spoon or as a topping for yogurt or fruit salad. Now the chooks are back in production I should lash out and make a pavlova, which is surely the traditional place to use passionfruit.


Passionfruit is an interesting plant but not without its problems. It is one of Australia’s favourite backyard crops but I’d venture to say it brings more questions to talkback garden shows than even lemons do.

The main concerns revolve around fruit (or I should say lack of it) but gardeners are also concerned about when to prune it and how to feed it. More recently suckers are showing up as a problem too.

Pests – from passionvine hoppers to rats – also raise concerns. There have even been questions asked about passionfruit on this site.

After many years of both growing passionfruit and also advising others, I’ve decided that to grow a strong, productive passionfruit vine is part good gardening and part dumb luck.

The first thing to realise is that passionfruit grow on vigorous vines. This means they need space both above and below ground and also need support in the form of a trellis or a fence.

They also need full sun, good drainage and shelter from the cold. Fertilise vines with pelletised chicken manure or citrus food, spreading fertiliser along the root system. Water well particularly after planting, while times are dry and when plants are flowering and crops are maturing.

Passionfruit Nellie Kelly

Nellie Kelly, a large-fruited black passionfruit, is the most popular homegrown variety and the one I am growing, but others you’ll come across at the nursery are Panama Red, Panama Gold and Pandora. These last three do best in warm or at least coastal climates. I wouldn’t expect any of them to fruit here in Kurrajong.

Another bone of contention with passionfruit seems to be whether or not they need a ‘friend’. Some Panama varieties for instance fruit better with cross-pollination (that is two vines) but Panama Gold Select is self-fertile. Nellie Kelly is also self-fertile.

Popular in days gone by was the banana passionfruit (Passiflora mollissima), but it is now considered a weed. This species was popular as, not only easy to grow and it grew on its own roots, but was it is self-fertile and produced lots of elongated yellow banana-shaped fruit.

For decorative rather than fruiting passionfruit there is the beautiful scarlet passionflower, Passiflora coccinea, also known as red granadilla and for cold climates there are ornamental forms of the blue passionfruit, but I’ve not seen these growing in Australian gardens.

Decorative Passiflora coccinea (photo by Bouba)

Passionfruit though are basically are warm climate plants. Tropical, subtropical and warm coastal zones grow the best passionfruit although there is a passionfruit farm just up the road from us in Kurrajong Heights – or at least there was one. The passionfruit flourished in what is a frost-free microclimate with fertile soil.

Cold conditions and wet soils can lead to poor growth, death of the vine or poor fruiting so always plant passionfruit in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot with free-draining soils. Passionfruit need lots of space for their root systems so don’t grow them in pots.

In tropical and subtropical climates, passionfruit vines fruit within six months of planting. In these climates spring-planted vines may be fruiting by late summer and fruit production continues through winter.

In temperate zones vines however can take 18 months to reach maturity – so that’s a year and half before you can expect them to begin flowering and fruiting. That’s a long wait! Indeed, a spring-planted vine may not flower and fruit until its second summer so that’s quite a long time when plants may only survive for five years before they are hit by virus disease and die.

But a lack of fruit isn’t always just due to immaturity. Lack of regular water, lack of pollinators or even sudden cold winds can all take their toll on fruit. Too much shade can also slow ripening and this is where pruning can be effective. In late winter or early spring carefully remove some of the tangle of stems so that fruit and flowers when they appear are better exposed to the light.


Fruit that falls from the vine but isn’t black may be ripe (so always check) but it can also be dropped if the weather suddenly turns cold or the plant lacks water. Pest insects such as passionvine hopper feeding on the vine can also lead to fruit drop. Watch out for these insects while they are young. They appear as ‘fluffy bums’ – that’s the name given to the cute-looking nymphs. They are easier to deter with a jet of water or control with a chemical spray as juveniles than as adults (which resemble lacy-winged moths).

But getting back to passionfruit. Fruit colour at ripening can be variable. Usually green fruit ripens to purple or black but some ripe fruit may not be highly coloured. If green fruit drops to the ground it is always worth tasting it to see if it is ripe, despite it not being highly coloured. Ripe fruit left on the ground may get sun burnt so regularly collect fruit. Also keep the ground around your passionfruit clear of weeds or long grass so it’s easier to find fallen fruit.

Fruit that forms but contains little pulp may have been poorly pollinated, but again there can be other things going on such as stress due to insect pests, cold or lack of regular water.

Lots of flowers but no fruit may be due to poor pollination. If the weather is cool, wet, windy or even overcast during flowering, pollination and fruit set may be poor. A lack of pollinating insects (often made worse by bad or cloudy weather) can also affect cropping. Hand pollination (using a dry paintbrush to transfer pollen to the female part of flowers) can overcome some pollinating problems and is most successful done early in the morning.

Encourage bees and other pollinating insects to vines by planting herbs such as borage.

My biggest beef with passionfruit however is suckering. Most passionfruit are grown as grafted plants to overcome problems with fusarium wilt and other soil-borne fungal diseases. Home garden plants are usually grafted on to blue passionfruit (Passiflora caerulea).

Blue passionfruit is a vigorous plant that may sucker particularly where there is root disturbance or if the grafted part (the scion) dies. It produces inedible yellow fruit, but this fruit also helps it to spread.

Distinctive 5 lobed leaves on suckering understock

Watch for suckers (look for the distinctive five fingered, blue-green leaf as well as its blue flower) and remove suckers or seedlings promptly. If a vine dies carefully dig up the root system to avoid future problems.

There are other rootstocks and I do wish they were used more for home garden varieties. Commercial vines are usually grafted on to Passiflora edulis f. flavicarpa, a rootstock developed in Queensland that is disease resistant and not prone to suckering.

Some varieties are also grown from seed or cutting to overcome suckering problems. Panama Red and Pandora may be sold as seed grown plants which means they are growing on their own roots.

Passionfruit make excellent screening plants and add a lush leafy tropical feel to the garden. But, if you plant one, remember that they’re not always going to be trouble free, but most come good and produce truly delicious fruit. Speaking of which, I’ve just collected eight eggs from the chooks and a dozen fruit from the passionfruit so I am about to whisk up that pavlova to celebrate.

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

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Jennifer Stackhouse

About Jennifer Stackhouse

Recently Jennifer Stackhouse made the big move from Kurmond in NSW to a Federation house in the little village of Barrington tucked beneath Mt Roland in northwest Tasmania. With high rainfall, rich, red deep soil and a mild climate she reckons she's won the gardening lottery. She's taken on an acre garden that's been lovingly planted and tended for the past 28 years by a pair of keen gardeners so she is discovering a garden full of horticultural treasures. Jennifer is the author of several gardening books including 'Garden', which won a Book Laurel for 2013, as well as ‘The Organic Guide to Edible Gardens’, ‘Planting Techniques’ and ‘My Gardening Year’, which she wrote with her mother Shirley. She was editor of ABC 'Gardening Australia' magazine and now edits the trade journal 'Greenworld' magazine and writes regularly for the Saturday magazine in 'The Mercury'. She is often heard on radio and at garden shows answering garden queries.

156 thoughts on “Growing passionfruit

  1. How I envy you the ability to grow fruiting passionfruit. I used to live in Normanhurst, on Sydney’s North Shore, and we had a big old house that had both regular passionfruit and banana passionfruit. I don’t quite understand why banana passionfruit should be considered a “weed” as we found their fruit to be absolutely delicious. I have grown a couple of passionfruit vines in New York City, but they don’t really thrive, and now, as a result of your article, I believe I understand why. They have always been potted, living outside during the summer and inside during the winter so they wouldn’t freeze. They have occasionally given flowers, and from the photos accompanying your article, is would guess that they are the variety Passiflora caerulea. I suppose that, because they need more room than a pot allows them, they just do not thrive. Thank you for the insight!

    • Jennifer Stackhouse I am in Africa In Uganda I have been growing passion fruit for the last three years but the type of fruiting is not really so good, the leaves also turns to yellowish, and some of the plants end up with a retarded growth.
      what must be the problem?

      • Andrew: passionfruit need lots of water to grow and fruit well so this may be the problem with your vine. Fruiting is also slower in very high temperatures. Vines are also affected by virus disease which can distort the fruit and sap sucking insects that can cause leaves to yellow. More water and fertiliser and some shade if it is exposed to extremely high conditions may help get the vine growing better for you. Good luck and let us know how you get on and what vegetables and fruit grow well in your garden in Uganda. Jennifer

  2. Hi Jennifer, what an informative and enjoyable reading this has made. So, I might not get fruit as soon as I thought, the bees seem lacking, but are plentiful in the rest of the garden so that is one clue as to why. Having the confidence to work with the brush and hand pollinate has always seemed to be so technical but we will have a go. Once again thank you for all the information.

    • Carol there is a great video, just type ‘video on propagating passionfruit’. Also I used liquid pot ash and had amazing results.

  3. Hi Jennifer, thankyou for the above informative article. We are finding lots of bees in the garden, mainly in the bottlebrush at this time, which is on the other side of the garden, but they have not found our passionfruit. So there is something to investigate, we are going to have a go at the brush to hand pollinate, but our confidence in doing this has been lacking, but if we do not try we will never know. But thankyou once again for the article. I am enjoying Garden Drum.

  4. Lovely blog, Jennifer. I have had an interesting experience with my passionfruit vines this year, too. I planted two different varieties ( red and black) about two metres apart on the front north/west facing fence. I had been told they would cross pollinate thus.

    I had rich and verdant growth of leaves and then flowers, turning into a stack of green skinned fruit which stayed just that – green. From May to June to July, the fruit stayed the same colour, although grew in size and number. They stayed mostly attached to the vine, with maybe a handful dropping off.
    Eventually I started taking them off the vine and cut them open and voila, they were full of ripe, sweet pulp. So I harvested them, green and all, and slurped my way through dozens. The rest, I gutted and froze the pulp, and well, you know the rest; ice cream sundaes, pavlova etc etc.

    Question is: why didn’t the skin “ripen”?, ie change colour ?


    • Some varieties are not as black as others is the only thought I can offer! It is always worth doing what you did – cutting open the fruit and tasting it.

  5. My passionfruit vine is now entering its 7th year! It started off as a $2 plant and was placed in side garden but did nothing over 18 months, so was duly moved to a spot alongside the carport. From there it has just flourished and I tend to prune it back quite brutally by at least a third every year. Whilst we had a ‘scant’ year last Summer due to the ongoing rains, this year it is again loaded with fruit. We were told that Passionfruit only last 4 yrs, but ours seems determined to keep on producing! I freeze lots of pulp for use throughout the year. Our biggest yield was 35 kgs two years ago.

  6. Hi, Jennifer.
    I have a Nelly Kelly Passionfruit, this is its second year, it is very vigorous but with very small fruit with nothing inside, just an empty shell, lots of buds falling off what is the problem ?
    it gets lots of sun and water (I think)
    hoping for an answer

    • Hoping for some fruit too I bet! I’ve found that deeply watering passionfruit at least once a week, making sure the water soaks in along the extensive root system really encourages all those flowers to make fruit that’s full of pulp. where you are finding dry passionfruit it is usually due to incomplete fertilisation (that is the female part of the flower just didn’t form seeds due to a lack of pollen). The passionvine hopper (pictured above in the blog) can also affect fruit formation so try to control that on your plant as well. There is still plenty of time for fruit to form and to ripen as passionfruit crop well into autumn and even through winter if the conditions are mild. Jennifer

    • Hi, I had nelly Kelly black grafted vines many years ago and had the same problem as you describe, I had fully formed casings but empty inside.
      I went to the McEwans garden centre and took my fruit with me to show the extremely talented gardener who worked there.
      Immediately on viewing the fruit he said to me that I had an earwig problem where at night they come out and nip off the seed heads of the flowers which hence is the fruit.
      That night I went out with my torch and there were earwigs everywhere, they were living between the fence rails and palings and active at night.
      I mixed a spray of earwig active insecticide and sprayed.
      The new flowers produced large black fruit and absolutely full of nice sweet seed.

    • i grew a ned kelly as well and the fruit is so unusual. fruit is yellow on outside and inside looks like mouse guts. all red and oval, weird but sweet. is this usual?

      • Cheryl, they do not sound at all like Nellie Kelly (NK) passionfruit which are typically purple to black outside with a golden pulp inside. Your passionfruit sound more like banana passionfruit which are yellow, elongated and with reddish pulp. They are edible, not as sweet as NK and prone to being a little weedy. They also have a reputation for greater cold tolerance.

  7. Pingback: Growing passionfruit | GardenDrum

  8. Can you please give some suggestions as to how I can get my passionfruit vine to throw flowers earlier. I have no problem getting them to set when they do turn up but March flowering means passionfruit in winter, which is no good. I was told to prune in september but that has not helped either.
    I am in Perth.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Pruning may have delayed flowering. Deep watering in spring and early summer should help encourage lots of flowers. I have noticed here in my Kurmond garden bursts of flowers after heavy rain or deep watering. Early blooms also may need to be hand pollinated if there is little bee activity when the flowers are open. Last year (2012) I had a mass of late summer and autumn flowers which matured into delicious passionfruit ripening right through winter (despite some cold nights and frost). When the passionfruit begins to re-grow at the end of winter also feed it with a flower and fruit fertiliser and feed again after rain in late spring or summer. Jennifer

      • Last year they started flowering in about march and I asked a gardening guru how to rectify the late flowering and she suggested pruning in september,but this has not helped.i also reticulate 3 days a week and have tried citrus fertilizer and also potash but no flowers as yet.

        • I can only say that passionfruit flower well if they are getting the right conditions, which are lots of water, full sun and regular feeding and a warm climate,. What you are doing sounds like good feeding and watering but if the soil is really porous and drains and dries fast, it may not be enough. As well as using the fertilisers for fruiting I would mulch with about 5cm of well-composted manure around the base of the plant and also try using a soil wetting agent to make sure you are saturating the soil. When conditions are dry – which they are in Perth and were in Sydney in spring – passionfruit do not flower well. You may need to increase watering. Remember too that passionfruit have an extensive root system so you may not be watering and feeding the entire plant adequately. Near by plants may also be competing for the food and moisture. Also look for and remove any suckers. Pests can also cause problems including passionvine hopper (small triangular green adults, fluffy bum young). And, if the vine is suckering that too reduces flowering as it puts the plant under stress.

  9. My passionfruit is now about one year old, growing well but no flowers. I am thinking it may be a dodgey plant. Should I pull it out and start again. I live in Perth.

    • Passionfruit are not necessarily mature until they are over 12 months old so it could be worth persevering until next spring. However, do check that your plant is still the fruiting form and not the understock (see story above). With Perth’s sandy soil, passionfruit do need regular water and fertiliser to get established. Citrus food is a good all round food for passionfruit.

  10. jennifer thank you for your info – but I have a self sown single vine. first year has produced a massive 100 plus crop in full sun, (sadly neglected) and have had a look today to see it in bud again. how many crops can I expect each year. The only luxury this plant has had is a handful of dynamic lifter..and good watering… when should I give a trim? I thank you most sincerely, joy

    • It depends where you live. In subtropical and coastal areas with a temperate climate passionfruit can fruit almost year round. Inland where I am we tend to get two distinct crops – one in late spring or early summer after the first flush of flowers an another in autumn which may continue to ripen into winter. Passionfruit have flushes of flowers and if these are pollinated they’ll tend to fruit so you can have fruit over many months. Here at Kurmond in the low Blue Mountains where we’ve had masses of rain the passionfruit are flowering and fruiting but I’ve had to hand pollinate them as the bees have disappeared from the garden since the massive heat wave. Good luck with your vine. Jennifer

  11. HI all, Had a Panama Red here in Townsville. It produced about 250 fruit in its second year and same in its third then it died. I dont know why? I would like to grow another in the same spot and i would mulch more, which might give me more years. My problem is the possum got 460 of the 500 fruit. Any ideas?


    • Not sure why the vine died and possum proofing is so tricky as it is hard to net or block access which are the only sure methods. You may have to consider pruning and training the vine so it can be netted in the future. In the meantime you could try putting exclusion bags over some of the fruit to see if that saves some of them. I know it sounds arduous but give it a try.
      The things that can kill vines include virus and damage to the main stem. However three years is quite young for the vine to succumb to virus disease.

  12. I have a fairly new Passionfruit vine, approx 2 yrs old that has suddenly filled with flowers which have now become huge fruit, probably as big as a tennis ball and heaps of them. I am wondering what type it is, as I planted a few along that fence in the hope that one would do the right thing and produce. I have mislaid the labels, but know I definitely bought a Panama Red as well as a Nellie Kelly. However the fruit on this vine is totally different in shape and size to my old regular run of the mill Passionfruit that turns deep purple in Summer. The fruit seem to have been green for quite a while and I am wondering if due to it being Autumn, they will take a lot longer to ripen? It receives plenty of sun, is on a fence and we also fertilised with Alpaca manure.

    • My Nellie Kelly passionfruit vine is also covered with round green fruit at the moment (late April). If your fruit is very large however it may be that it is the Panama that is cropping. Either way the fruit may or may not ripen over the months ahead. If the weather stays mild and the passionfruit is in a warm, sheltered location you may find yourself in the delightful position of being able to harvest ripe passionfruit right through winter. But, if conditions turn cold, the fruit may fall to the ground unripe. It is however always worth cutting open fallen fruit to check for ripeness. I have my fingers crossed for a warm autumn to ripen the fruit on my vine (and yours). Jennifer

  13. Hi Jennifer, great lot of info. I have a few queries.
    I have a “Golden Nugget” vine which has massive yellow fruit, about orange size, beautiful. The vine, (in it’s 2nd. year) has grown on the fence
    about 7m each way. Should i prune it back, if so how, & how much.
    Also i’m not sure about these suckers, what they are, where they grow.

    • Unless you are in a part of the world that doesn’t really experience winter I’d leave pruning passionfruit until spring. That said, if it is invading other plants or structures it can be cut back anytime. Passionfruit don’t need to be pruned to be productive. It is done more to open the vine up or keep it trained into its own area. Suckers are the shoots that come from the roots of some passionfruit grown on understock. The understock provides a stronger root system than some varieties would normally have, which is why it is used. However, the understock used by many growers is very prone to sending up shoots that try to take over the world. Particularly problematic is the blue passionfruit. If the variety you are growing isn’t grafted, there’s nothing to worry about. There’s a picture of the foliage of the understock in my story to help identify any strange growth you may find. Jennifer

  14. We have beautiful big passionfruit starting to purple and have now yellow flesh inside. Unfortunately the possums and birds/bats are getting to them. Have nets around but they still find their way in. Can we pick them now and let them ripen inside?

    • The passionfruit will ripen if you pick them. Try to pick them with a small piece of stem attached. I have some ripening in my fruit bowl as we speak. The fruit is sweeter I think when left on the vine but there’s nothing sweet about passionfruit-hungry possums! Jennifer

  15. I have planted some passion fruit vines. They have been growing for about 6 months now. They look growing well as they have plenty of leaves and are climbing all over. However, I have a problem. They have never flowered, not even a single flower?
    Will you please what is happening to my passion fruit plants?
    Thank you!

    • Passionfruit especially in cool and temperate areas don’t reach maturity until they are at least 18 months old. These plants will flower in spring and you should get fruit after that. In spring feed the vine with a pelletised manure or a fertiliser formulated for fruiting plants and I think it will be fine! Jennifer

  16. Hi Jennifer,
    I have a grafted Nellie Kellie passionfruit that I planted nearly 2 years ago. The vine faces west. This year has been the first year that it’s started producing flowers, and I was hoping for some fruit, but the flowers would just drop off! A few days ago I found a fruit starting to develop, but that dropped off too (it’s only the size of an olive). I recently mulched it and trimmed it a bit (accidentally cut through a branch with buds on it, oops) and I fertilise it every autumn and spring with citrus food. Is there more I can do for it? I got it a Panama friend, but it’s not old enough to flower yet, and next door has a vine a few metres away from mine.
    I really just want some fruit 🙁

    • If you have flowers and fruit forming you must be in a warm part of the world! Passionfruit flowers and tiny fruit drop if they haven’t been fully pollinated or if it is just too cold. If you are in a warm part of Australia then try hand pollinating the flowers taking ripe pollen from the anthers and spreading it to the female part of the flower. Use a cotton bud or very small brush and try it at different times of the day or even over several days as the pollen and stigma may mature at different times. If you are in a cold area, just wait until spring and try it then. Also, unless you are in a warm area I’d be concentrating on giving the vine fertiliser in the warmer month – not in autumn. Nellie Kelly doesn’t need cross pollination so the Panama you’ve planted isn’t going to make much difference to the Nellie Kelly, although the Panama may need cross pollination to fruit. You’ll probably end up with more fruit than you can imagine when the weather warms and all the vines become productive! Jennifer

      • Thanks Jennifer, I am in Newcastle, NSW so we have fairly mild winters. I will try to get up fairly early to hand pollinate as I can see some flowers ready to burst open. The vine is against a fence and has a windbreak from a shed so it stays fairly warm. I might try to propagate some lemon geraniums in pots to put near the vines to attract some bees.
        The Panama should be right for pollination, it’s entwined with a choko vine which attracts loads of bees.

  17. My passionfruits went crazy about mid march to may, rich purple colour but they are shrivelling and dropping off the vine and when I cut them open they are white crystally seeds with no pulp and a sour smell… Last year we had amazing succulent fruits… What do I need to do to save my poor vine 🙁 ??

    • When passionfruit start to shrivel and fall they are usually overripe. What you describe suggests that they didn’t get properly pollinated indicated by the lack of seeds and pulp in the fruit. In the spring, I suggest you give the plant a feed with a pelletised chicken manure or a flower and fruit fertiliser. When the weather is dry, give the vine a good soak.
      When it begins to bloom, try some hand pollinating of the flowers especially if there are few bees around. Hand pollinating involves taking the pollen from the flower and transferring it to the female part of the flowers where the fruit forms.

  18. Hi Jennifer,
    I have just planted 2 nellie kellie plants in my vegie patch against the fence.
    im also going to have tomatoes, green peppers and cucumbers in the same veggie patch which is about 5×5 m.
    just wondering if the passionfruit or tomatoes will be fine growing close by each other?
    thank you

    • The bed sounds quite big at 5m by 5m but, as the passionfruit grow, you may encounter roots when you try to plant extra vegies. This year should be fine however but as the vines grow, keep well away from the roots of the passionfruit. If they are disturbed by digging or cultivation you will cause the plants to sucker – to be avoided at all times. The extra water and fertiliser that you’ll be giving the vegies will help the passionfruit to grow big and strong!

      • Thanks for your reply Jennifer
        How much room should I leave from the passionfruit plant
        To the tomato plant. For example is half a meter enough?
        Thanks – zak

        • Leaving 0.5m is probably enough for this first season as the root system will not yet have spread into the surrounding soil. After this summer however the plant will have grown extensively so for future plantings keep them as far away as possible from the rootball of the passionfruit plant to avoid disturbing the roots as this can lead to suckering. When planting near an established passionfruit dig very carefully and move further out if roots are encountered.

          • Thank you so much for all this helpful information! We are in the upper Blue Mountains and hoping our passionfruit vine will produce fruit this year (it is now almost two years old). It is well watered and fertilised and I can see some flower buds forming. Is there anything else you recommend for our particular climate ?

  19. Passionfruit are starting to flower now (October) so it is time to get the cotton buds or dry paintbrush out to do some hand pollination to encourage early fruit set. Also as it has been dry in many areas deep water the vines now, weed around the base of the plant and then add some compost or mulch along with pelletised chook manure. Passionfruit don’t like cold conditions so growing in a warm, sheltered spot is very important.

  20. Enjoyed reading your article, thank you. We have had success with passionfruit before but the plants seems to be struggling to grow with some stalks dying back. They generally look unhealthy. The beds are covered with pine bark, would that make any difference?

    • If it is uncomposted pine park your plant may be suffering from lack of nitrogen due to nitrogen drawdown as the bark composts. In addition, if the mulch is more than 5cm thick it may be stopping moisture reaching the roots. If the mulch is too thick, scrape some away and add some blood and bone or even citrus fertiliser to the area. Water it before adding the fertiliser.

  21. Thanks for your article Jennifer – I’ve enjoyed reading it.

    We have a grafted Nelly Kelly Black passionfruit vine – I can’t remember how old it is maybe it is now 5 years old – this is the 3rd year I have been hand pollinating the flowers (as we don’t have any bees that visit our yard) – it tends to start to get new growth late in August, early September – at this time I tend to tidy it up – removing old growth, weeding the garden bed the vine grows in, give it a good feed of dynamic lifter (citrus fruit & flower) – this year I used the new dinofert product and mulch the garden bed. All the new growth buds well and produces loads of flowers – I was going to try and let it do it itself this year, as hand pollinating takes a bit of time and effort. I did see a bee in my backyard for the first time ever at the beginning of spring on the lavender plants (I have planted bee attracting herbs and lavender to try and encourage bees so I don’t have to hand pollinate) and even fruit growing as early as August but sadly the bee didn’t stay long and the early fruit I saw must have dropped off as it was no longer there when I went to do my spring tidy up. A week ago we had a handful of fruit growing but not as many as I’d like so I started hand pollinating again. Hand pollinating for me is very successful and we probably now have over 100 fruit in various stages of growth. I pollinated 42 flowers today!

    I have noticed some “fluffy bums” and the green passion hoppers (their wings are not lacy but pale light green, I didn’t actually know what they were until I read your article today – or that they were a pest (I thought the green things were a type of moth and had no idea about the fluffy bums). What can I do to get rid of them?

    Some of our vine is also growing under our pergola and as it doesn’t get natural rainfall some of the leaves are susceptible to scale and this encourages the ants. What can I do to get rid of the scale?

    Kind Regards


    • Melissa
      Great to hear about such as well-loved passionfruit vine.
      Hopefully more bees will come. You could investigate having a native hive in your garden to help with pollination.
      I would continue with the pollination and I think you’ll enjoy some fruit set. Keep the plant well watered by deeply soaking it once a week.
      You can use eco or pestoil on the scale problem but as it is brought about by the difficult conditions it will be an ongoing battle. Perhaps you could prune out the worst affected branches.
      The passionfruit hoppers are very hard to control other than hosing them off, trying to squash them (very hard as they are fast movers) or using a soap-based or neem-based spray. They can cause the fruit to drop. Jennifer

  22. Appreciate your expertise in regards to passionfruit. We plated 3 vines about a year ago…. they took of but now spring is here the are all dying! Could it be the mushroom we dug into the soil when we planted them? We have numerous other fruit and vegis growing well, but the passionfruit! They are in a good sunny, well drained soil against a paling fence. If you had any ideas we would appreciate it. Thank you John

    • It could just be drying out if it is recently planted. Water well. But do check the pH of the mushroom compost – it could be highly alkaline or maybe is causing root burn. If so lift plants carefully, gently wash soil from roots and repot in potting mix. Dig some aged manure into soil, water well, cover with mulch and leave for about six to eight weeks. The replant (perhaps one at a time to make sure it is okay). When planting into freshly prepared soil always put a layer of site soil or potting mix into the planting hole to make a barrier between the potentially damaging fertilisers in the improved soil and the roots. This prevents root burn.
      Sometimes you also find that plants have not taken at the graft so the top part dies. It is very important to remove these plants roots and all or you’ll just end up with a mass of rootstock.

  23. Hi,
    I noticed my passion fruit are dropping their flowers. I have tried hand pollinating and using a liquid leaf fertilizer and still nothing. It is getting cooler here. I was wondering if that could be the problem. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • If it is getting cooler then it is probably getting too late for your vine to form fruit. It really does depend on how cold it is getting where you are. May be leave it for now and then resume in spring when warm weather returns. Jennifer

      • hi our passion fruit vine started to produce flowers about a month ago being october which was very exciting. so far its has only produced 4 passion fruit. the last flower I hand pollenated and it has been a success most exciting some of the flowers fell off. My next question is how soon will another lot of flowers appear. The vine is along a fence line in a fairly sheltered area and we live on the gold coast, it is getting water almost every day as our weather is very dry at present. regards Mary.

        • Yes passionfruit are flowering and fruiting in most areas now (in Australia anyway!). In areas that are very dry it is important to thoroughly saturate the plants at least once a week. Also apply a citrus or fruiting fertiliser over the root system. If you do this you will notice the difference. In the warm conditions we have the fruit should reach full size and ripen quickly. The vine will keep getting flushes of flowers from now until autumn. Jennifer

  24. hello I have a nelly kelly passionfruit, it is three years old, it has never flowered or made any fruit. ( it may have very minimally flowered once, can’t totally remember) but definitely no fruit ever. it grows well and I didn’t know about big pruning till last year and this year missed it due to study.
    It is sending weedy shoots all over my garden, they are a real pest!!
    I’m not sure if i should pull it out and start over. It probably hasn’t had the most love, but not ever a single fruit and no flowers even?
    Not sure what to do with it?

    • Ray – Don’t pull it out, but do check that it is still the Nellie Kelly and not the understock (have a look at the leaves and compare them with what’s shown in this blog). What it needs is some good soaking rain (if you are on the east coast of Australia it will have had that this week) and some plant food such as citrus food. If you haven’t had rain, let the hose run gently under it for a while. If you see flowers try the hand pollination method I describe in the blog. Jennifer

  25. I have a passion fruit vine 20 feet long with a three inch base. It looked . like it was dying so I checked its base. Its all rotted with holes in it from insects. What would be eating this plant and what would I get to fix it? Thank you

    • It could have a borer in the stem and it may be difficult to save. All I can suggest is to clear any debris away from around the stem. Scrape away any rot, paint it with a fungicide paste (mix it up with a little water to do this). You could also water over the root area with AntiRot. Also skewer the holes with some wire to make sure there are no insects still inside. It is possible to inject or squirt a little insecticide into the holes as a precaution. Keep the plant well watered. Remove any suckers that appear from the root area. As passionfruit can take a year or more to reach productive size (depending on where you live) perhaps plant a new vine in another part of the garden to take over if this one doesn’t make it. Best wishes Jennifer

  26. I have the yellow big passion fruit its on its second crop just inside 12 months 1st crop great second crop drops early showing signs of wrinkles and brown markings on the skin I have cracked the fruit it didn’t taste to bad could have been a bit sweeter which tells me its dropping to early the brown spot is not all the way through the skin but not far as you can apply a bit of pressure and puncher through to the fruit I have been growing passionfruit for years never had this happen before can you advise or help please kind reguards gerry

    • Gerry, you don’t say where you are, but the fruit may be dropping as it has been stung by fruit fly (which is unusual as the skin is so tough and thick) or some other insect may be feeding including the passionvine hopper. Very dry conditions can also lead to fruit drop before it is mature. I agree – if the fruit isn’t sweet then it is probably dropping prematurely. it is very difficult to control insects on productive plants as most chemicals are not suitable. If it is dry I would flood the root area with water to make sure the vine is well watered.

  27. Hi, I have a passionfruit vine which is producing hundreds of flowers which are all falling off. Not one has developed into a fruit. The vine has been fertilised with a citrus fertiliser and is well watered. It also faces north so gets full sun. There is plenty of bee activity and I have hand pollinated it as well with no luck. I am in melbourne. How do i get it to fruit? We have just moved in to the property so I don’t know how old the vine is.

    • Flower drop without fruit forming is usually due to either lack of water or lack of pollinators. I would recommend really deep watering – just leave the hose to run on it or set a small sprinkler under the vine, checking that the water is soaking in to the soil. A good heavy fall of rain is usually what’s really needed. Remove all the nearby grass and weeds to avoid competition for moisture and nutrients. Continue to persevere with the hand pollination. Sometimes it needs to be done several times to ensure that the female part of the flower is receptive and that the pollen is fully ripe. Also check over the vine for pests. Passionvine hopper can lead to flower and fruit fall. These little insects either seen as juveniles known as ‘fluffy bums’ (pictured in the blog above) or as moth-like insects, can be hosed off or controlled with an all-purpose garden insecticide. Jennifer

  28. I need help. My passionfruit vines are healthy and bushy. I get the flowers but no passionfruit. Have tried lime, sulphur of potash; and a feed of 5 different things (as advised at Bunnings). I even did the brush thing all to no avail. Maybe, I am not doing the brush correctly. I have not seen any bees or insects to pollinate either vine. I am at a loss as I do not know what else to do. I live in Tweed Heads, NSW, but at present down at my son’s at Wallabi Point NSW.

  29. We have a grafted Nellie that has been in a large tall pot for almost two years. As we knew nothing about passionfruit, the first season it went unpollinated, and we started to think we had a dud plant. After some research, we found out that the flowers had to be pollinated, and thus we went and purchased a soft brush and hand pollinated each and every flower that appeared.

    This season, we had an abundance of fruit – yellow empty fruit! Of all the fruit we had, only 1 had any seeds, so they were replanted in a case of wishful thinking.

    The plant gets watered every 2nd day (we live SW of Melbourne and it rains often), and it gets a feed of raw liver every 6 months. It also gets a share of worm castings once a week. We have it growing on what was our vertical garden, so it covers 3 pallets, and seems to be healthy.

    I’m thinking that growing it in a pot is having a detrimental effect, so maybe at the end of next winter / early spring, we should prune it right back and replant it, this time in the ground. In the meantime, we will start preparing it’s new home if needed.

    Any suggestions?

  30. It sounds like you have understock growing and have lost the grafted form. The understock produces small yellow fruit as you describe. It is not satisfactory to grow a passionfruit in a pot and quite likely the roots have escaped from the pot into the soil below. Have a look at the photos of the understock in the main part of the blog to confirm the identification. The plant also has an acrid smell. Jennifer

  31. i have 2 panama red passion fruit vines on a trellis. the vines are in good condition no visible pests or disease. flower buds form but do not open. i live in lismore nsw

    • Tricky. Try watering the plants deeply and giving them a dose of citrus food or a fertiliser for fruiting plants. Remove any competing weeds. Try hand pollinating some of the flowers to see if you get something happening. Jennifer

  32. My huge home grown passionfruit is covered in flowers and green fruit in all sizes. BUT I have a problem with rats eating through the flower stems. They don’t eat the flower, they just eat through the stem. I hear them in there and I wack the vine to scare them away but every day there are maybe a dozen flowers lying on the ground. I have rat bait in the garage but obviously not the type they like to eat. I have lost hundreds of potential passionfruit. Although there are still hundreds to come. I ate my first fruit today even though the skin was only just flushed with colour and it was perfect.

    • Rats! Don’t talk to me about rats! I had rats living under my vine too. Mine may be better farmers than yours however as they waited until the fruit formed before attacking it. Some of the rats were removed by Larry the Pug, who fancies himself as a ratter, and I am worried the rest are still there with an eye on the autumn crop.
      It is very hard to stop rats getting access to passionfruit vines or even to keep the rats out of vegie gardens. The fact that you have lots of fruit is a bonus though. You could try protecting the fruit with exclusion bags but this would be tedious and may not be effective. However, it would be worth a try. Rat traps are another option and can be placed around the area. Of the rat baits there are now some new generation baits available which are said to have lower rates of secondary poisoning. Secondary poisonings occur when other animals (owls, kookaburras, dogs for example) eat the poisoned rat and is why rat control by baiting is so problematic. The active ingredient difenacoum is said to have lower rates of secondary poisonings. It is included in the Bait & Kill range from Brunnings and may be in other products too.

      • If your weather is conducive to them, pythons make excellent rat repellant. It doesn’t matter what size – it could be a children’s python, to a rainbow python to an amethystine python, rat’s are a delicacy.

        Back to our passionfruit vine, we have decided to keep it going so as to act as a wind break. We intend on planting two more vines in early spring, but will spend the time until then getting prepping the soil and nailing some trellis / arc mesh to the fence.

  33. We have just moved into a house with established Maxi Passionfruit, north facing, in Perth. In September there were loads of fruit but we didn’t move in until November once the fruit was finished. We immediately weeded the area and used Lupin mulch to help retain moisture in the soil. Vines have a good soak twice a week. For the last month the vine has grown and flowered vigourously but there is no fruit development. How long does it take before you see fruit doing from the flower? There are loads of bees around. I’ve since heard passionfruit don’t like too much nitrogen, and Lupin mulch is super high in nitrogen. Anything I can do to make the flowers fruit? It’s still warm in Perth. Thanks

    • If there are flowers and they are being pollinated the fruit forms very quickly. I have lots of flowers and fruit forming on my vines now so I expect, especially if you are watering (or if indeed you get some good falls of rain) that fruit will form. Whether it can ripen through winter really does depend on your microclimate. Try hand pollinating some of the flowers to see if that encourages fruit but, if it is forming, you can actually see the fruit swelling inside the spent flower. I wouldn’t give the vine fertiliser until spring – then use a fruiting fertiliser (watering well).
      Best wishes

  34. Hi there Jennifer. i have had this vine growing for a number of years and it always flowers, bears fruit that are nice and large, but they never get ripe. what could be the problem – or set of problems?

    • If the fruit forms in autumn then the cold weather may hinder ripening. I have a vine full of passionfruit now that is ripening slowly and I am hopening that the very cold stays away for a bit longer. Deep watering through summer and applying fertliiser does seem to help flowering and therefore fruiting earlier in the year to give fruit a better chance to ripen. Also, always cut open some of the fruit as it may be ripe but not coloured.

  35. Hello I would like to know the length of time the fruit takes to ripen ? on the vine in weeks /months etc Thank You kindly

    • Janette it can take weeks up to months for fruit to ripen especially in autumn. I have had passionfruit gradually reaching a good size for the past 2 months but staying green and now the fruit is ripening but not a dark black colour. Nearly everyday now I can pick up some ripe fruit that’s fallen from the vine.

      • Thank You very much I guess it’s a matter of being patient (not me at all) But I shall try and wait it’s the first season for my vine. it has many large fruits on it. Also it’s change of season now so the sun has changed directions etc it still has sun but not as much as in Summer & Spring.

  36. I planted a “Nellie Kelly” vine in March 2011 in north eastern suburbs of Adelaide and this year it had its first fruiting with about a dozen fruit in Feb/March of which about 3 were edible and the rest were totally empty inside. It then started flowering profusely and at present I have a couple of hundred fruit on the vine however they are remaining green and not falling or colouring. The late burst of warm weather here has also seen many more flowers on the vine. Are these green fruit likely to ripen on the vine or is it better to pick and take them inside to ripen? The only “fertilizer” I use on the vine is to bury a sheep liver near the root during winter. This worked fantastic on our previous vine and we had a great excess of beautifully tasting fruit. Unfortunately that vine saw its demise in 2011 after about 7 years of great service. Thanks for any information.

    • In temperate zones passionfruit tend to take around 18 months to reach maturity and start producing lots of fruit. The empty fruit you mention are indicators of incomplete fertilisation so no seeds and pulp formed. Hnad pollination can often help produce very well filled fruits. Right now the green fruit on my vine is colouring gradually and falling from the vine and is ripe! Generally passionfruit do need lots of water and fertiliser so I would strongly recommend a complete fertiliser for your vine in sping along with deep watering.

  37. HI
    Last year we planted a Nellie kellie and had 6 fruit from it, they were quite large and green, when they fell off the vine the skin was quite tough and very thick, they were filled with beautiful tarty flesh. This year the vine has approx. 400 fruit on it, they are again large and green but some of them have a patch of purple on them, the first fruit to form has dropped off the vine and was nestled in the leaves so I guess it has been there for awhile as it was pale yellow and a bit soft to touch, I have cut it to find the skin again was tough and thick but was full of flesh. I guess I just want to know, how do I know when to harvest them? Or how do I tell they are ripe? I live in Perth, the vine is on a north westerly side fence in well drained soil and well fertilised.

    • Actually I have a typo we have approx. 200 on the vine. Now I notice those that have a little purple on them are soft where they are purple but firm where they are green, those that are green are still hard and firm.
      I would appreciate your response?

      • It sounds as if they are ripening. Certainly the ones that drop from the vine are ripe and the ones that are developing purple colouring. Keep the area under the vine clear of tall weeds or grass (may be mow it) so you can easily see the fallen fruit. Check the vine every day or so to collect ripe fruit. The fruit may keep ripening or it may end up dropping off unripe but keep cutting and tasting what falls through the months ahead.

  38. Hello, I am currently living in Patagonia at Latitude -41. We get fairly warm summers and mild spring / Autumns with plenty of rain. Will it be possible for me to grow passion fruit and do you have any suggestions on which strain might do best here. Thank You!

    • I have just moved to a similar latitute. We now live in Barrington in North West Tasmania. I have noticed banana passionfruit growing well here, but so far I haven’t spotted any black passionfruit. If you can buy a vine it would be worth trying it in a sheltered, warm, sunny, frost-free spot. The main problem may be not having a long enough season for the vine to flower, set fruit and ripen. Otherwise seek out a banana passionfruit vine to grow – the fruit isn’t to my mind as palatable but the flowers are pretty.

  39. Hi – have 3 Nellie Kelly vines cropping fantastically after I got rid of the rats – but having problems with suckers can I poison the suckers without killing the main vine – they are in a sheltered position on the coast at Carrickalunga SA

    • Glad to hear that things are going well. It is not a good idea to use a herbicide on the suckers as you may kill the main vine in the process. The suckers are very annoying however and will weaken the plant. Keep on removing them by hand. Jennifer

  40. Hi I’ve enjoyed reading numerous comments and your replies. I have a 18month old Nellie Kelly “endless summer” non grafted. When I first planted it against a brush fence facing north east it sent out a lot of runners and looked great. Then after about a year the large leaves look like something is eating them, as they have holes through them and the plant looks unhappy. The tendrils are also dying off. I have peddles around the base to keep the black birds away from the soil. It is watered on a watering system regularly. Can you please advise what I can do? Thank you

    • Thanks for the photo which you emailed separately. There could be a caterpilar or weevil causing the holes in the leaves. The general unthriftiness though may be related to watering. The watering system may be keeping the soil too wet and this could lead to root rot. While it is important to keep passionfruit vines well watered it is necessary for soil to drain well between waterings. I would check the soil to see how wet it is before watering. While I understand that the pebbles around the base of the plant are to stop the blackbirds I am concerned they are too close to the main stem. Check this area for signs of rot which would include brown or black patches. I would suggest removing the pebbles and instead putting down a thin layer of manure (not touching stem) covered by a thin layer of coarse organic mulch (the combined depths no more than 50mm) and then stretching chicken wire over the top of the mulch to deter the birds. As a precaution against any root rot, apply AntiRot (follow the instructions on the container). Getting the plant to grow more vigorously will also help the vine to out grow the leaf damage. Once you are seeing some sign of growth, apply a pelletised manure around the base of the plant. Finally, I would remove the plant tag from the stem. Jennifer

  41. I have enjoyed reading through these posts and getting lots of handy hints for growing beautiful passionfruit – our vine is producingits first crop and was looking very healthy but we have just noticed on some of the fruit small borer like holes ? Do you know what they could be ?

    • They may be caused by fruit fly. Pick some fruit and cut it open and you may find the culprit. If it is fruit fly, the skin is usually too tough for the female to penetrate. Apply a fruit fly bait near the vine. Other insects that can damage fruit include the fruit piercing moth but these tend to target softer fruit. Also try bagging some of the near ripe fruit with a paper bag or exclusion bag which may prevent the damage if the problem is getting worse. Water and fertilise the plant to keep it growing strongly and hopefully it will be okay. Jennifer

  42. Could you advise please. I planted 6 Nellie Kellys 2 years ago around a water tank. All have vigorous growth but only one plant fruits [extensively]. They all have the same drainage [sand], watering [retic], similar sun, same nutrition [everything you describe, plus rock dust]. Why is the success rate 1/6? When should I pull the non-performers out and start again?

    • It may be the growing conditions (for example the area on the southern or eastern side of the tank could be more shaded and the western side hotter) or it could be the actual plants. There does seem to be a high failure rate for grafted passionfruit, particularly Nellie Kelly, if they are stressed. If the ones that haven’t performed are still Nellie Kelly (not the graft) and growing then leave them, but if they are poorly I would remove them and their root systems and concentrate on the one that’s doing well. Six was quite a large number to plant and one will give you lots of fruit. Jennifer

  43. Is there a variety of passionfruit which would be suitable for planting in Clare (Mid North of South Australia). The climate is temperate with hot, dry summers and cold winters with regular frost. Rainfall is approx 550mm annually.

    I am looking to plant 1 or 2 vines on trellis panels north south and east west with a common north east corner to provide fruit and protective shelter/ partial shade to a blueberry bush and possibly other smaller fruit plants.

    • Peter I would try a black passionfruit such as Nellie Kelly on its own roots. The vines may need frost protection while establishing and will also need lots of additional water to grow through summer and to produce fruit. Your other option is the banana passionfruit, which does have more cold tolerance but I don’t think the fruit is as tasty. Jennifer

  44. Recommend Nellie Kelly – grow from seed – do not buy grafted as they send up suckers everywhere – have 3 growing Carrickalinga collected about 1200 this season so far

  45. They are across the road from the ocean must like the salt air – have frozen them, made passionfruit butter, passionfruit cordial and eaten fresh – vines are loaded again with large green fruit – just about to plant some Panama red to see how they go

  46. I have planted a fig plant 2 metres to the left and some citrus to the 2 m to the right. I also have a pear tree about 4 metres on the north side of NK plant. Do you think that is too close? Am enjoying this post too.

    • Erika
      It does sound like there’s a lot there! Is the passionfruit being shaded by the pear tree? Certainly with all those fruiting trees there’ll be lots of root competition. Make sure the passionfruit is well watered and gets lots of fertiliser through the growing season. Jennifer

  47. hi, we have a heavy autumn crop of huge Nellie Kellies, some oblong in shape. They are lightweight, very thick skinned with little pulp inside. Will they ripen through winter? The summer crop produced average sized fruit and fewer.

  48. Kerry – they may ripen but unless you are in a very warm area they are unlikely to ripen once the winter cold sets in. I have had the joy of passionfruit in winter from a vine in a warm, frost-free area. The lack of pulp is poor fertilisation. The large autumn crop is probably due to autumn rains or good growing conditions.

    • So should I strip this crop off the vine and let it recover for next summer? The vines get a good feeding, daily retic and are in full sun. But again, the fruit are huge.
      Thanks for further advice. Cheers, kerry

      • Kerry – daily watering may be too frequent especially moving into winter. Soil needs to drain and then be rewet along the full root run. More water less often may be a better regime. The fruit will probably fall over the coming months but if it is all just large but without pulp then go ahead and remove it – but I would be cutting open a selection of them to check. Don’t feed the vine again until new growth resumes (probably early spring).

  49. Hi Jennifer ,,,thanks for all the information on here its been great and very helpful. and hope my question has not already been asked and I have over looked it but I planted a Nellie Kellies passion fruit about a year ago (in Perth) it has really taken off in the last couple months and has about a dozen large fruit on it, but most of it has started to shrivel up and drop off. Could this be because of the cooler weather? I have used seasol fertiliser and it is watered regularly. Any advice would be appreciated thank you
    cheers Pete

    • Pete
      Have you cut any open to see if they are ripe? Shrivelling and dropping suggests they are over ripe. If you cut the fruit open and there’s no pulp inside then the fruit has not been properly fertilised. Fruit fall can also be caused by the cold conditions. Next spring try your hand at hand pollination. Jennifer

      • Jennifer
        thank you for your reply,
        when I cut the fruit it was very tough and there was seeds inside but looked undeveloped , very dry and hollow ,

  50. Thanks. Great info. I just moved to Dordogne, France and discovered a vine with gorgeous exotic looking flowers. Now, thanks to you, I know it is a passion fruit, my favorite fruit!! Can’t wait to start harvesting.

  51. I want to pick my fruit off my tree at home. It is full of fruit but due to a cold melbourne winter they are not rippening on there own. Any suggestions..

    • Passionfruit will not ripen when it is cold. Try some to see if they are ripe but otherwise leave them on the vine. What may happen is that the fruit will be discarded and new flowers will appear in spring as it gets warmer. Apply fertliser along the length of the root system as spring warms and the vine shows sign of new growht. Jennifer

  52. Hi we have just moved to a property in jack River Victoria and the leaves of the passion fruit appear to be drying or perhaps dying. Any suggestions. There are lots of citrus trees and all others seem fine. Thanks sue jones

    • My passion fruit vine is full of fruits. But they do not get ripe, I mean, fruit changes colour, gets wrinkles, falls down on the ground. But is not ripe & there is not eatable pulp
      Please help.

      • Sharda – if there is no pulp in the fruit then there has been poor pollination. If there is pulp but it is still bitter then the fruit is dropping due to lack of water. Heavy infestations of pests such as the passionvine hopper can also cause stress that leads to fruit drop as can disease problems such as root tot. Very high temperatures could also cause the fruit to drop. Check the soil around the vine and if it is dry, water it so that the water soaks in. This means a slow, long, gentle watering along the length of the root system. If the soil seems hard to wet, use a soil wetting agent. Regular watering will encourage more flowers and hopefully more fruit which will stay the distance and ripen. Jennifer

  53. My passion fruit is going great on growth and flowers are starting to open. But the keep closing back up over night?! I water it moderately every day. Why is this happening?

    • The flowers close when they’ve been pollinated. Check that these flowers are flowers of the black passionfruit not the understock which is the blue passionfruit and produces inedible orange fruit. I suggest deep watering a couple of times a week rather than moderately daily. Jennifer

  54. What a lovely article. I also had a vine that hadn’t produced any flowers 1 year after planting and I searched the web for an answer. However we had had a particularly cool summer and as the season is drawing to a close the temperature is warming up and the passionfruit flowers have appeared. The fruit is flying along. My mouth is watering at the thought of my first passionfruit. 🙂

  55. I have a panama gold fruit tree growing vigorously producing some buds & 5 fruits (so far, its only 8 months old tree). But lately I noticed some buds & flowers have been eaten by ???. Also some leaves have partly been eaten too. I am not sure if its mice that’s the culprit or some kind of worms. I cannot find either of them.
    Any advice is much appreciated.

    • Edible passionfruit are not really grown in the UK but many of the ornamental forms are, particularly in warm spots and conservatories, where they are much admired for their spectacular flowers. Jennifer

  56. I had one plant growing from underneath the concrete in my new house, one plant growing from the garden it was really light coloured pulp. The one from under the slab was really orange pulp. Just want to know what mineral or fertiliser made the fruit so orange pulp, and more flavor too. I was hoping it is as easy as lime or minor mineral

    • It is more likely a variation in the plant that affects the pulp colour rather than any additional mineral or soil additive. Panama passionfruit for example have darker yellow pulp than black passionfruit. The one under slab is puzzling as soil under concrete is usually poorly aerated and can be highly alkaline. Passionfruit grow best with a slightly acid pH (5.5-6) which would also provide optimum nutrients. It must be able to access soil water and fertiliser. For better fruiting on the vine growing in the garden, make sure it has regular water, and has additional fertiliser. Good luck. Jennfer

  57. Hi a very interesting post I have a two year old nelly kelly which was looking very healthy in june but now in november [melbourne] it has lost a lot of leaves and the leaves are sticky not looking well at all. the new shoots are just shriveling up can anyone help many thanks carol

  58. I’ve never had any success with the grafted Nellie Kellie along my north facing wall in Canberra. A couple of years ago, I thought I’d give the ungrafted version a go and three years later I’m being showered in passionfruit.

    It’s in the same spot and receives the same treatment, so the only thing I can think of is that the root stock wasn’t right for Canberra.

    • That’s really interesting feedback and I am glad you are enjoying lots of passionfruit now. The rootstock was introduced to make the plant more tolerant of poor soil conditions including drainage and of colder conditions. Jennifer

  59. I was searching the web for help on passionfruit and coincidentally I’m in Kurmond, (small world)! My vine is covered in fruit after I planted it 18 months ago, the first fruit I opened up smelt great but was very dry. I’m assuming it’s due to lack of rain and I need to water it myself more often…..

    • Hi Phillipa – I have moved to Tasmania since I posted this passionfruit blog. The lack of flesh in the fruit is probablly not enough pollination but certainly give the plant as much deep soaking water as you can. Also give the plant some feed such as Dynamic Lifter. Also try some handpollination to see if you can get more fruit forming. Jennifer

  60. Dear Jennifer,
    Thank you for a very entertaining and instructive piece. I am in Melbourne and I would like to plant two passion fruits on a north facing fence, either side of a clothes line. Do you have recommendations for which varieties to select? Would it be ok to plant now (in mid summer)?

  61. Dear Jennifer,
    I am on Bribie Island north of Brisbane (sandy soil) and have planted grafted red and yellow plants about 4 months ago. They are spreading very rapidly along a north facing fence, and many branches are appearing. I don’t know what to do with them all, as the vines appear to be very crowded. Should I cut off the excess branches (pointing away from the fence) to allow more room to train the original growth along the mesh attached to the fence, or should I try to leave them all in a tangled mass, and train all the runners?
    Thanks for an informative blog on growing these lovely fruits!
    Cheers, Howard

    • Howard – you can certainly prune off wayward branches or train them back to the fence – trying to avoid a tangled mess of course! When pruning always trace the branch back before cutting to avoid removing a main stem by accident. Jennifer

  62. Again, this is an article about black passion fruit. I am looking to recreate my childhood memory for my grandchildren.
    Down the bottom of the garden was a vine with 5cm to 7cm yellow fruit in the loose shape of a banana. The skin was a thick, even, yellow colour which was easily opened to reveal rows and rows of orange covered black seeds which tasted like nectar from heaven. It was one of the fruits we were allowed to pick with out supervision because Mum did not want them for jam or preserving.
    I have heard that they are considered noxious weeds in Tasmania – therefore banned. Nobody has suggested to me that this might be an urban myth. Of course, birds will eat any fruit on offer and spread the seeds to unwanted places. My backyard lemon tree is not considered a pest. Likewise for my strawberries. The birds eat them too. The only plant I find in my urban garden that could become a real pest is common ivy. I could by this weed once it had been shaped into something that might resemble a Christmas tree for AUD48.
    What I want to grow is the banana passionfruit of my youth! Where can I buy a plant?
    Judy B

    • Judy unfortunately banana passionfruit (Passiflora mollissima), which is the passionfruit you can remember from your childhood, is now considered to be an environmental weed in Tasmania and in many other areas. It isn’t classified as ‘noxious’ so isn’t banned, but it should not be sold by garden centres. It is also a severe weed in Hawaii.
      Unlike strawberries and lemons, this vine has the ability to germinate readily from seed and to grow vigorously outside gardens without a gardener’s help. As it is a vine it invades bushland and could indeed become a weed like ivy. It also has more cold tolerance than other passionfruit so grows in a wider range of temperate areas.
      Many plants remembered from childhood gardens are now weedy and it is no longer sensible or responsible to grow them. The leap from garden plant to unwelcome weed is happening with many plants due to pressures on the environment from land clearing, drought and climate change along with a change in gardening culture. People no longer value crops such as banana passionfruit (even your mother didn’t want to use it) and so they are left to rot on the ground or be eaten by birds and animals and so become a source of weeds. Black passionfruit is not a weed yet although the plant it is grafted on to, blue passionfruit (Passiflora caerulea), can become weedy and I am sure it will be a weed of the future. If you want your grandchildren to enjoy the pleasure of eating plants they can find in your garden, grow black passionfruit, other vines, strawberries, fruit trees, fruitng shrubs like blueberry and of course vegetables. The story of being allowed to pick as many passionfruit as you liked can still be told even if the kids are raiding a different species!
      If you keep your eyes open when you travel around, you may also be able to find a stand of banana passionfruit that’s escaped into the wild and harvest the fruit. I haven’t seen any about although I do have passionfruit seedlings that come up as weeds in my garden and could well be banana passionfruit. I don’t allow them to get established and pull them out!
      Enjoy your garden and the grandkids!

  63. Hi I have a young passionfruit that grew well last year and fruited well but since the summer has well and truly arrived with excessive heat and now plenty of rain. My vine now has (wiltered) like leaves all over the vine and looks like it is slowly dying. Any clues that will help me save my vine.

  64. It may have a root disease causing the wilting you describe or perhaps there’s been damage at the base of the stem. Examine the plant to look for damage and consider if the plant can be saved by pruning. Root rot is difficult to control but try applying AntiRot (follow the instructions on the container). Alternatively remove the plant and all the rootstock and plant a new passionfruit in an other position. Jennifer

  65. I live in a high wind area where we have lots of full sun and especially strong afternoon sun. We don’t have much in the way of shelter of shade here. Would it be ok to grow the golden nugget vine between my water tanks, where they’d get shelter from the winds from the north east and some shade from the south west afternoon sun?

  66. If possible I’d like to ask a question. My neighbours were growing passionfruit and it creeped over our fence. Because we’ve never had enough room to grow anything more than a couple of vegetables here and there, I was really excited to be able to share a fruit vine with them, even though they didn’t know or care about it growing over. It’s been flowering and fruiting heaps, but when I went to have a look at a ripe one, there were only seeds inside. When I cracked open an unripe one to see if I just picked a really old fruit, it was the same, there was no pulp at all. This was the same in any fruit I opened, just seeds. It appears to be a golden passionfruit plant but I’m not sure. After reading this, I checked the leaves and they aren’t the five prong one, but the fruit is yellow and inedible.

    My question is this, is there anything my neighbours may be doing wrong to stop it from fruiting properly, that I can fix, or is it just an inedible species of passionfruit?

    • Sarah it does sound as if it is the understock that is forming the fruit which is inedible. The vine may be intermingled with the main vine which is why you can’t see the distinctive five-fingered leaves. Alternatively, if it isn’t the sucker and is a golden passionfruit, it may be lacking a pollinator so the ‘seeds’ you are finding are not viable which is why no pulp has formed. The solution may be as easy as planting another golden passionfruit.

  67. Hi Jennifer
    I enjoyed your presentation immensely.
    I tried to send you a reply.
    Not sure if it went through.
    Jim Parker
    We are in Adelaide and what you share is our first detailed understanding of the things which affect fruiting

  68. I have planted three varieties from seeds, Incarnata, Edulis and Edulis Purple giant. While Incarnata grows great and is at about 3 cm in size, Edulis and Edulis Purple giant are very poor. Edulis are at 1 cm in size, Edulis Purple giant are dying on me – two of them shriveled and dies, and one grew to about 1 cm and stayed like that for about two weeks now.

    Leaves on Edulis Purple giant are turning brown, wrinkle and eventually die. Edulis are a bit better, but also very slow growing. I know Incarnata is more resistant version, but still, this is a disappointment. There’s plenty of sun and water for them, and I have no idea what to do. Can anyone help?

  69. My passion fruit is growing well but the fruit is not ripening on the vine. They are large fruit. They are all formed inside but if I pick them they will ripen when left in the sun. If I leave them on the vine eventually as they get older they will shrivel up and still not be ripe inside

  70. Hi remembering as a child spring/summer days filled with warmth fun pavlova plus the sweetest passionfruit. We lived on a farm where passion fruit seem to grow everywhere; certainly any amount. Now I live in the city where sadly my attempts to successfully grow a vine or two is proving difficult, to say the least! Thankyou for your site with advise and tips; I will continue to ‘have a go’ at growing sweet passionfruit or live on my childhood memories. Cheers Happy gardening All

  71. Hi Jennifer,

    Firstly just like to say thanks for the great article and all the comprehensive responses you’ve given over the years. They have helped me a lot.

    I live in Denmark W.A and am interested in growing passionfruits. I really have my heart set on Sweet Granadillas which I tried for the first time in India and loved (at least I believe they were sweet granadillas, they were orange on the outside and the seeds were in a white flesh that often remained as a whole sack rather then to the outside of the shell). I find them to be the best tasting passionfruit but my research tells me they are more of a tropical fruit (not great for Denmark climate). I was considering grafting it onto the rootstock of perhaps a Banana Passionfruit which I’ve read to be more cold hardy. I’m aware that this variety is considered a weed and I plan to be careful to watch it spreading unwarranted and for suckers. My soil is fertile and I have a ready supply of chicken manure pellets ready for planting.

    My questions are do you have any info about grafting these varieties. And do you think that Denmark will provide enough Autumn sun to allow this more tropical fruit to ripen fully. Any knowledge you could share would be greatly appreciated.


    • Sweet granadilla would grow in Perth but may struggle further south where you are in Denmark where the fruit may not ripen due to the cold autumn. My experience with black passionfruit in a cold climate is that the crop is slow to form and then needs a long warm late summer and autumn to ripen. Banana passionfruit is used as understock – more so in the past – so it is possibly worth a try but, if you can grow the sweet granadilla in very well drained soil, it may be the short growing season rather than the soil that is the problem. If you really want to try, you will also need two plants for cross pollination and also may need to hand pollinate the flowers to get fruit set. Find the warmest microclimate in your garden to give the passionfruit a chance of enough sun and warmth. Try against a warm sunny wall with shelter from cold southerly winds. Good luck and keep us posted! Jennifer

  72. I have a grafted dark passionfruit as well as a grafted yellow vine and 2 seedling yellow vines. There are heaps of fruit, plenty of flesh but it is very sour. What could I use to sweeten the fruit? The vines are very vigorous and in full sun. The big dark fruit are very sour, the yellow fruit less so. Thank you.

    • Lyn
      Fruit is often tart when not fully ripe. Unless the passionfruit are falling to the ground, leave them a little longer on the vine. I am not sure where you are writing from but peak sweetness will be found in fruit ripening in late spring, summer and autumn in most areas. The frut’s flavour may also be improved by treating the vine with a seaweed solution such as Seasol and assuring the vine is both well watered and regularly fertilised with a complete fruit fertiliser (such as citrus food) especially through the warmer months of the year. Best wishes Jennifer

  73. Hello
    My red panama passionfruit has its 2nd crop. There are over 100 fruit with ripe fruit dropping to the ground as normal. However the fruit is sour. Can I fix this for the next crop?

  74. Usually the fruit sweetens as it ripens so hopefully the fruit that stays on the vine may get riper and sweeter. Seaweed solutions have also been shown to help sweeten fruit so it is worth appying one of the seaweed solutions regularly when the next crop is there. Also prune away any extra growth to allow more sun to reach the fruit on the vine.

  75. Hi my red panama passionfruit is healthy & is loaded with plenty of fruit ripening constantly. In past month or so leaves closest to base are getting brown spots, turning yellow & dying. Rest of vine is green & lush & growing vigorously. Plant is fertilised on a regular basis with Scotts osmocote plus organics for fruit trees

    • Cathy – if you are somewhere it is cold and wet that would account for the leaf spotting and damage. Remove any damaged growth and water over the root area with phosphorus acid (sold as Anti-Rot). Fertilise in spring with pelletised chicken manure or citrus food.

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