Passion Fruit Harvest Time – When And How To Harvest Passion Fruit
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
When do you pick passion fruit? Interestingly, the fruit isn’t harvested from the vine but is actually ready to eat when it falls off the plant. These facts make it difficult to know when to harvest passion fruit, especially in cooler regions. Other things to consider are species and site. The two varieties of fruit each have different maturity times, with purple fruits ripening earlier than yellow fruits. The best test for ripeness and passion fruit harvest time is the taste test. Nibble your way to a successful harvest of sweet-tart fruit.
When Do You Pick Passion Fruit?
The passion fruit vine is a sub-tropical to tropical plant that cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. It is classed in two forms, the yellow and purple species. Each form has slight differences outside of the obvious color difference, with the purple fruiting vine a more hardy strain that can withstand temperate climates with some protection. In cooler regions, fruits will ripen much later than those grown in long season, warm areas. The trick to knowing how to harvest passion fruit resides in experience and flavor preference.
The purple passion fruit is native to Brazil and widely grown in tropical to sub-tropical areas. This vine seems to have a greater tolerance for cooler conditions and ripens later than its golden hued cousin. The origin of the yellow form is unknown, but it is also called tropical passion fruit. Fruits usually start to appear on vines that are 1 to 3 years old with earlier fruit occurring in warmer regions.
The yellow fruiting vine blooms April to November while the purple flowers in March through April. Fruits can be expected to ripen 70 to 80 days after pollination. This means passion fruit harvest time is around the end of summer into fall for purple vines and may be through winter for the yellow form.
How to Harvest Passion Fruit
You will know it is time to harvest when fruits are plump, have a slight give and are fully colored. In the yellow forms, the color is deeply golden and the purple fruits will be nearly black. Slightly wrinkled fruits are super ripe and will have a sweeter taste than the smooth skinned passion fruit.
The ripest fruits will simply drop off the vine, so keep the area under your plant clear to facilitate finding the fruit. Fruits that are still on the vine and have changed from green to purple or yellow are also ripe and may be picked straight from the tree.
Simply give attached fruit a gentle twist when picking passion fruit from the vine. Green passion fruit won’t ripen fully off the vine but ripe fruits will develop deeper, sweeter flavor if left uneaten for several days.
Storing Passion Fruit
After picking passion fruit, you can store them for a week or more in the refrigerator. When picking passion fruit, place them in boxes or crates where air can circulate. Don’t use a bag, as the fruit can mold.
Wash and dry the fruit and store in the crisper of the refrigerator or in mesh bags. Commercial growers coat the fruit in paraffin to allow for easier shipping and keep fruit fresh for up to 30 days.
If you want the fruit to ripen a bit more, leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days. The taste will be sweeter and more balanced. Use passion fruit fresh, as a condiment or cooked down to add to desserts. The rich flavor is also used in cocktails, as juice and in delicious ice cream.
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Read more about Passion Flower
Growing Time for Passion Fruit
Passion fruit (Passiflora spp.) is a tropical to subtropical perennial vine that produces a dark purple or deep yellow fruit and cream flowers with deep blue centers. It is a major commercial plant in Hawaii, Australia and many other locations with a climate similar to these locales. It is grown less frequently in California, but according to the University of California Cooperative Extension it can be planted anywhere that winter temperatures stay above 24 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. This vine produces fruit within a few years, but is relatively short-lived.
How to Harvest Passion Fruit Seed
Passion fruit (Passiflora spp.) comes from vines native to American tropics, where there are about 500 different species. The flowers, called passion flowers, are intricate, with colors of white, yellow, pink, purple, red and blue. Plants have fleshy oval fruits, and fruits from around 40 species are edible. Edible passion fruit (P. edulis) has both purple and yellow forms. Other species grow as ornamentals. Maypop (P. incarnata) is native to the southeastern United States and grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. Most other species are subtropical and tropical and need frost-free climates, with hardiness zones varying by species.
Pick passion fruit when they have turned color or pick up fallen fruit from the ground. Allow fruit to continue to ripen for a week or two in a spot with bright light. Not all seeds are mature enough to germinate when the fruit is ripe.
Put the fruit into a small bowl and smash it. Let the smashed fruit sit in the bowl for two days.
Cut open the smashed fruit with a sharp knife. Scoop out the soft pulp containing the seeds. Put the pulp into a clean bowl. Pick out the seeds and put them in a fine mesh metal sieve.
Put the sieve under running water. Rub the seeds against the wire mesh with the back of a spoon to remove the colored gel that surrounds them. The gel contains substances that can inhibit germination, so it's important to remove it.
Put the seeds in a cup with clean water. Discard any seeds that float to the top of the water. Empty the water and remaining seeds into the cleaned sieve. Drain excess water from the seeds.
Put the seeds on a paper towel and blot them dry. Plant them immediately for best germination success. Allow them to dry completely in a shaded area if you plan to store them, but realize that this will trigger seed dormancy and decreased germination rates. Store the dried seeds in paper envelopes.
Passion Flower Pod?
Native to South America, this fast-growing vine has colorful white and purple flowers followed by a purple fruit that has a hard covering. but some growers hand-pollinate the flowers. Yellow fruits are larger, sweeter and less acid, have more juice and a richer aroma and flavor. Flowers have more intense coloration, especially the purple central color. This is the most cold-hardy of the passion flowers, growing in USDA zones 5 through 9. Native to the Eastern United States, the vine grows 6 to 8 feet in a season and blooms from July to September with large fragrant 2 1/2 inch white and lavender flowers. Use the vines as a screen or to cover a trellis. To avoid bruising and possible fungal infection from contact with the soil, pick the fruits from the vines just before they are fully ripe. Maypop fruits are eaten fresh or made into jelly.
- Rinse and pat dry the passion flowers before adding them as a garnish for desserts or drinks.
- Optionally, steep the flower heads in hot chocolate or tea for five to 10 minutes to create a passion fruit beverage.
Only harvest and eat the flowers from a passion fruit vine if no pesticides or herbicides have been used on the plant.
Avoid harvesting flowers infested with insects or infected by disease.
- Choose a spot in full sun except in very hot areas, where partial shade is preferable.
- Prepare your soil with organic matter like compost and sheep pellets.
- Add a layer of citrus and fruit mix to plant into. Passionfruit is best planted between mid-spring and mid-summer in New Zealand.
- Feed passionfruit with a fertiliser rich in potassium in spring and summer.
- Mulch and water well, particularly over the warmer months.
Follow our full guide below to a bumper crop of homegrown passionfruit.
Keep up to date with the latest growing advice in your region
The summer favourite of passionfruit grows well in the warmest parts of New Zealand. The climbing vine and striking flowers make it an attractive (and delicious!) addition to the garden.
Passionfruit is a vigorous, climbing vine that clings by curly tendrils to almost any support. It can grow very quickly under good conditions - up to six metres in one year. The evergreen leaves of the vine provide a shelter for the fragrant exotic looking white and purple flowers that appear on the new growth.
Passionfruit flowers are a striking flower with a prominent central structure designed to attract pollinating insects. The fruit are small and round with a tough rind that is smooth and waxy. The colour of the rind ranges from purple to yellow and orange. This protective exterior hold ups to 200 small, dark seeds. The unique flavour is a combination of tangy, musky, sweet and tart that is popular in desserts!
Plant vines in full sun except in very hot areas, where partial shade is preferable. The vines grow in many soil types, but light to heavy sandy loams, pH 6.5-7.5, are the most suitable. Passionfruit require excellent drainage and the soil should be rich in organic matter. Dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and compost to your soil before planting. If the soil is too acidic, apply Tui Lime.
The purple passionfruit is subtropical and therefore prefers a frost-free climate. The vines may lose some leaves in the cool winters. Passionfruit will grow well in containers but require a structure to support the vine.
Top varieties for the home garden:
Black Beauty - flowers are white and purple and fruit is egg shaped, dark purple with juicy yellow-orange pulp filled with small black seeds. Black Beauty is self fertile and can grow 1.5-7 metres per year once established. Fruit changes from green to dark purple when ready and is harvested from March to June.
Giant Granadilla - the very large, showy red, purple and white flowers are fragrant and hang from the vine because of their weight. Oval 30cm fruit turns a rich golden green with a fruity aroma when ripe, in summer to late autumn. A vigorous evergreen vine with deep green leaves, it can grow 17m in a single season. Self fertile and insect pollinated, however hand pollination can increase fruit set.
Sweet Granadilla - has a very attractive white and purple flowers followed by large, round orange fruit. The pulp is delicious and juicy. A self fertile variety that is fast growing.
Red Banana (sometimes called Vanilla) - large, red flowers followed by oblong yellow fruit and sweet, juicy, aromatic pulp. Red Banana needs a long, warm summer to ripen. Hand pollination will help with fruit set. Closely related to the banana passionfruit, but not as vigorous.
Banana passionfruit is classed as a noxious weed, so is not recommended to grow in the home garden.
Plant passionfruit between mid-spring and mid-summer, or even later in very favourable conditions. Plant vines next to a sheltered wall, trellis, or deck sheltered from the wind. If planting more than one, space vines no less than two metres apart. Passionfruit vines can fruit about 18 months after the vine has been planted.
Check plant labels for individual planting instructions. The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away.
Planting passionfruit in the garden:
- Dig a hole approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant and partly fill with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix.
- Gently loosen the root ball of your plant.
- Place the plant in the hole, and fill in with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix, ensuring the plant is no deeper than it was in the container or bag.
Planting passionfruit in pots and containers:
- Partly fill with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix, and tap on the ground to settle the mix.
- Gently loosen the root ball of your plant.
- Place your plant in the pot, and fill in with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix, ensuring the tree is no deeper than it was in the container or bag.
Feed your plants and they will feed you. Replenishing nutrients used by your passionfruit ensures they will grow to their full potential. When temperatures warm up in spring start feeding passionfruit with a fertiliser rich in potassium (potash) such as Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser for optimum flowering and fruiting. Feed during the warm months of the growing season - spring and summer.
Regular watering will keep a vine flowering and fruiting well. Water requirement is high when fruit are approaching maturity. During a dry summer, deep watering is required. If the soil is dry fruit may shrivel and fall early.
Grow and Care for Passion Fruit Flowers at Home
If you’re a fan of edible landscaping, then consider growing passionflowers (Passiflora spp.) at home. Passion fruit flowers are not only gorgeous, but they produce delicious fruit. Even if you don’t have any experience growing them, these plants are simple to grow. They also make great as container plants for growing indoors, especially if you live in cool climates.
About Passionfruit Flower
Whether you call them Passiflora, passion vines or passionflowers, these plants feature gorgeous flowers. They’re more of a vine than a shrub. They can grow over an archway or even up a wall, making an attractive privacy cover. They produce fruit twice per year. You’ll see the first fruit within 18 months of planting.
Climate Needed for Growing Passionflowers
You can find many Passionfruit flower varieties from online gardening sites or your local garden centers. Passionfruit is native to South America, but if you live in USDA hardiness zone 6, you can select seeds or seedlings for planting in your yard. Although Passionfruit has over 400 species, the two most common for home planting are:
- Purple passionfruit (Passiflora edulis)
- Yellow passionfruit (Passiflora edulis f. flavicarpa)
How to Plant Young Passion Fruit Flowers
Before planting your Passionfruit, make sure you have the right soil conditions. This plant requires well-drained soil. For the best results, mix your garden soil with compost and well-aged animal manure. The soil should have a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
Choose a spot with full sunlight, away from other trees or trellises that you don’t want the Passionfruit vines to grow. Once you find your spot, follow these steps for planting Passion fruit flower:
- Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice the diameter size.
- Place the small plant into the hole.
- Fill the hole with soil that you mixed with compost and manure.
- Gently firm down the soil around the plant
- Water the plant thoroughly.
- Apply liquid seaweed fertilizer.
- Attach the lead tendril to a trellis or to a stake to keep it upright
How to Plant Passionfruit Flower Seeds
Passionfruit is easy to grow from seeds. You can either collect your own seeds, or purchase them online or at your garden center. Seed-grown vines grow vigorously and produce plenty of fruit. One more benefit is that they don’t grow as many suckers as grafted vines.
Save the seeds from a few large fruits. Remove the seeds and clean off all the pulp. Dry them with a paper towel. Unlike many plants grown from seed, you don’t want to dry out the seeds. Use them fresh for the best results.
- Sow the fresh seeds in small pots filled with moistened potting soil. Place one or two seeds on top of the soil in the pot. Lightly cover the seeds with more soil. Water the seeds with a seaweed solution.
- Find a warm spot for the pots. You can use a mini-greenhouse or place them in an insulated box, covered with plastic. Keep them in warm, indirect sunlight.
- Mist the soil, so it doesn’t dry out. Your seeds will germinate in 10 to 21 days.
- Allow the seedling to grow to about 2 inches, and then water them with an organic, liquid plant food. Fertilize them again after two weeks.
- Repot the seedlings to a larger pot when they reach about 6 inches tall. Also, place a climbing stake in each pot.
- Plant your young vine outside after about six weeks in the new pot. Follow the previous instructions for planting young Passionfruit vines.
Feed and Mulch
Passionfruit love to eat, so they need organic fertilizer during the first year before the flowers bloom. Also, apply mulch made from pea straw or hay. This helps keep in the moisture and prevents weed growth.
Apply aged chicken manure twice per year. You should do this at the start of spring and at the beginning of autumn. When the flowers start blooming, apply potash to the soil.
During the first month after you planted your Passionfruit, water two to three times every week. After the first month, you can cut down the watering to a single soaking once per week. If you notice any shriveling of the plant, then it needs more water. When it starts flowering and forming fruit, keep the plant watered sufficiently.
Pruning Passionfruit Vines
As your plant grows, look out for suckers that can drain the energy from the main vine. Use your hand clippers to cut the suckers off at ground level. Keeping your Passionfruit pruned is one of the most important maintenance you can do for your plant.
Since the fruit grows on young vines, cut back the older woody ones in the spring. This helps keep your Passionfruit flower productive.
When you see the fruit starting to shrivel, all you have to do is twist it off the vine. Picking your fruit regularly actually encouraged the vine to produce more fruit. Keep watering even during harvest time and you’ll have a steady crop of Passionfruit.