Learn how to grow, care, maintain and harvest the tropical and delicious passion fruit tree.
Living in Florida definitely has its perks and one of them is being able to grow fruits and vegetable that are not susceptible to the rest of the country.
One of them is the delicious and nutritious Passion fruit, a powerful tropical fruit that contains riboflavin and niacin and is rich in amino acids. It is also high in citric acid and carotene, a substance that prevents premature skin aging, reduces oxygen damaged caused by UV light and act as an antioxidant to the human body.
In Brazil, where I was born, Passion fruit is easy to grow hence it is highly cultivated there. The story is a bit different here in the United States. In fact, I had been told by many people that the tree would not grow or produce fruits here due to the zone and climate.
Well, those people happen to be very wrong, especially if you are located in the South of Florida where the temperature and climate is very similar to those of tropical places such as Colombia, Hawaii where Passion fruit thrives.
Now, if you live North of Florida close to Florida/Georgia line where you may experience low temperatures, then you may have difficulties growing Passion Fruit during winter times but I suspect you should be fine during Spring, Summer and Fall.
How to grow Passion Fruit tree
You can grow passion fruit in different ways. You can start with seeds, cuttings or a young tree. The seed method is obviously the one that would take the longest but it is the most budget friendly method as the passion fruit is packed with seeds so you only need one fruit to grow several trees.
I started with a few cuttings that was gifted by a friend. I got a total of four cuttings, two survived and the other two didn't. This is normal, not all cuttings will survive. It is really a matter of survival of the fittest and because you don't know which cutting is going to be the strongest, it is better to have a few.
Now, you can also buy a young tree from a local nursery or vendor. If you are in the Southwest Florida area I highly recommend ECHO Farms. Their trees are organic, free of pesticide and the price is not too bad either. If I can recall, last time we went which was mid 2021, the price for a one foot tall passion fruit tree was $30.
Probably much more than you have paid for other trees or plants but considering passion fruit is a rare tree here in the United States, the price is rather fair. I have seen one passion fruit sell for $3 each at the supermarket, so if you were to buy 10 of them then you tree has paid itself off.
How to care for your passion fruit tree
Passion fruit is a tree that is relatively easy to care and maintain but it is highly invasive so I recommend it to be planted some where it can expand and grow without compromising other plants and trees.
Unfortunately I didn't get this tip when I planted mine and it ended up suffocating my grapefruit tree. Good thing no one in my house is a fan of grapefruit, so no tears were shed.
As the tree grows you may see a large amount of caterpillars eating off of the leaves. This is fine when your tree is mature as it won't easily die off but as a young tree, it may not survive so it is a good idea to keep your eye on the larvae and remove them when you can.
Another bug who also loves passion fruit tree leaves are the hardworking ants and they are vicious! They will eat off your entire tree until it is completely dead, they have no mercy ! But there is a way to handle them in an organic and gentle manner.
Here's a quick and organic solution for your ants problem as well as other pests and you can spray your entire garden with this substance.
Natural & Organic Pesticide
1 Gallon of water
2 Spoons of Dr Bronner's Castile soap
1 spoon of concentrated Neem Oil
Add all ingredients to spray container, mix well , and spray either early morning before sun is too hot or later in the afternoon when sun is gone.
This solution can be used everyday until the bug problem is gone and every week thereafter as a prevention.
Now, as for watering, I will be quite frank with you and tell you that I rarely water my passion fruit. But this can be different for you depending where you live and the climate during each season.
The high humidity levels here in Southwest Florida help to keep the soil moist and because it rains often, we rarely need to water the passion fruit but we do keep an eye on it for signs of dehydration.
Another reason why we may not need to water as much is probably due to mulching. We mulch our entire garden quite frequently which helps to keep the soil moist and also add tons of nutrients to the soil. It's a win-win!
We get mulch for free from our County as they offer five different locations that you can pick up to a yard of mulch everyday. Call your county/city to find out if they offer this type of service as mulching is a great way to reduce costs but also ensure your garden is healthy.
Where to grow your Passion Fruit
As mentioned earlier, Passion fruit is very invasive and it will take over everything. Therefore, planning a strategic space for your tree is a wise idea.
Since passion fruit is a vine and it crawls literally everywhere, it is a great tree to grow on a trellis or lattice and it looks beautiful too.
They are great to provide privacy if you grow them on a chain link fence or to add shade if you grow them near a pergola, which is exactly what we did.
We wanted shade in our backyard but we also wanted it to be natural. However, growing a tree big enough to give us the shade we were looking for would take years and more space than we were willing to give.
So we built a tiny pergola close to where the passion fruit was so it could start growing around it. We loved so much how it looked and how shady it was, perfect for hot sunny days, that we decided we needed to extend it.
Now we have a passion fruit corridor which we also attached to a pergola and will soon have the tree covering the entire pergola providing a beautiful natural shade. I can't wait !
How to harvest passion fruit
There are different types of passion fruit trees and the one I grow is the yellow passion fruit. With that being said, you will know that your fruit is ready to be harvested when it has a vivid yellow color to its skin.
You can also wait until the fruit drops which is what we do, that way we know the fruit is ripe and ready to be enjoyed.
Harvesting passion fruit is really that simple. I would say that passion fruit is one of the easiest fruits to harvest and due to its hard shell the fruit has a longer lifespan, as even after it falls on the ground it takes days for it to decompose and for bugs to be able to get inside.
How to use Passion Fruit
Passion fruit has a tart taste and sweet taste so it is perfect for juices and desserts.
Our favorite way to enjoy Passion fruit is by juicing it or making a passion fruit mousse which is very easy and delicious.
It can also be used as a salad dressing, to make cocktails and even homemade flavored ice cream. And not just food, you can use it for soap making and repurpose the seeds as artisan pieces.
To get you started, here's the recipe for the Passion Fruit Mousse.
Passion Fruit Mousse recipe
4 - 5 Passion fruit pulp
1 (14 oz ) condensed milk can
1 (10 oz ) table cream can
In a blender slowly pulse the passion fruit pulp being careful to not break the seeds. Once the pulp is somewhat blended, put it through a drainer in an effort to remove all seeds.
Once all seeds are removed, put them aside and save them for later as we will be using them to garnish the dessert.
Blend passion fruit pulp, condensed milk and table cream for two minutes or until is well blended.
Add final mixture to glass container and put it in the refrigerator for twelve hours or until it has assumed a solid consistency.