This is a plant that I have wanted in my garden for as long as I can remember. Not only does it provide you with a yummy harvest of fruit, it also has some of the most spectacular flowers I have ever seen. Passionfruit grows as a vine, and has so many endearing features. The leaves are green and glossy, it is hardy, I love the spiral tendrils it uses to cling onto things, and the fruit and flowers are unbelievable.
I have great memories of the passionfruit vine we had trailing over our fence in the terrace house I grew up in. There was the excitement at seeing the flowers bloom and then the intolerable wait as the fruit grew and then turned from green to purple. The fruit always tasted better when you had picked it yourself, as opposed to the store bought variety.
Passionfruit not only provides you with a great climbing vine that will cover an ugly wall or fence, but it will provide you with a key ingredient for my summertime desert of choice, the ever Australian Pavlova.
So here’s the Passionfruit low down…
Name: Passiflora edulis – There are a heap of different varieties so check out what’s available at your local nursery to find the one that’s right for you.
Description: A vigorous and fast growing vine that loves to climb on any sturdy structure. You’ll need to provide it with a fence, wall or lattice to let it develop to it’s full potential. The vine has large glossy green leaves and delicate spiral tendrils that help it climb. The flowers produced by the passionfruit vine are spectacular and would probably be the best thing about this plant if it weren’t for the fact they are followed by a yummy harvest of delicious passionfruit.
What you’ll love about them: The fruit, the flowers, the fact that the vine can and will cover whatever you want it to. There is so much to love about the passionfruit. Passionfruit vines are really easy to take care of and will continually give back more than you give them.
If you’re in the right location and you give them plenty of water and food, you should see a harvest of fruit within the first 18 months, and then regularly after that. This is one of those “memory” kind of plants. Everyone that I know who had a Passionfruit vine when they were growing up remembers it fondly. Great for kids, great for cooks, and great for the lazy gardener – maximum impact with minimum effort!
What they love: Passionfruit loves the sun. Plant it in a sunny position, give it’s roots free-draining soil, some food and plenty of water and it will reward you with loads of it’s yummy fruit. You will need to provide a structure like a fence, wall or trellis for it to climb on, and good well drained soil with plenty of organic matter. They love plenty to drink, so keep the water up, and in terms of food, don’t feed them with too much nitrogen, compost and chook manure are perfect.
Ongoing maintenance is easy, they like a trim every spring, so as winter turns into spring, trim off around 30cm. When they are young prune off the top of the vine (the leader) and this will help make the vine spread laterally and cover whatever ugly garden feature you want hidden.
The not so great bits: The vine is vigorous and can get away from you, though this could also be a good thing if you want something screened well. Passionfruit is only relatively short lived – 5-7 years, so you will need to replace it fairly regularly, though it is fast growing so it won’t take long to replace itself.
If you prefer something a bit more home grown: There are no native Passionfruits, so there isn’t anything that you can directly substitute, but if it’s the vine you are looking for you could try a Pandorea sp. it is fairly hardy and vigorous and has lovely flowers.
Anyone feel like a slice of Pav???