Passionfruit progress


#1

My goal here is to advance the state of knowledge when it comes to growing Passiflora Incarnata, AKA maypop or hardy passionfruit. To that end, I'm going to document my thoughts after each year.

tldr
I think this fruit is well worth growing, especially for beginners. It will give you interesting, exotic fruit in the first year, and then do it again every year after. It also has beautiful flowers, so it can be used decoratively. Just keep in mind that it suckers like crazy, needs cross-pollination, and wants as much sun as possible.

I cannot emphasize the sun part enough. I planted 3 vines. Two were from Edible Landscaping, and one I found growing wild locally. Two of them (the wild and a purchased plant) I put in good, but somewhat shaded soil. These still grew, but not much, and I didn't end up with any fruit from them. The other I planted by my mailbox, in lousy clay soil and full sun. It is a monster, sending suckers everywhere and producing constant flowers and several dozen fruits. So, worry about giving it sun, and only sun. It isn't picky about soil.


The good:
-Pretty flowers.
-First-year fruit.
-Little to no maintenance, as long as you give it full sun.
-Pest-free, except for the gulf fritillary. I didn't get any, but I've read that the vine can withstand them just fine, and many people consider them pretty enough to be a bonus.
-Interesting flavor. If pressed, I'd describe it as pineapple-grape.

The bad:
-Aggressive suckering. It will try to take over. Place it so you can mow it down when it extends beyond its borders.
-The fruit can take some work to eat. The seeds inside these arils are not soft like with a pomegranate. You can still chew or swallow them, but I preferred not to. This may be a good candidate for juicing.
-Late ripening. This may have been an artifact of the plant being young, but my fruit didn't ripen until very late in the fall (I just picked the last of them a few days ago, and many still weren't ripe).


The miscellaneous:
-Some say the fruit turns yellow when ripe. Mine did not. I had to wait until it dropped off the vine. If it is unripe, the arils will be white, and very tart, basically tasting like a lemon. Ripe arils are yellowish and sweet.
-Cross-pollination is important. Some fruits turned out empty (again, perhaps because the plant was young). I hand-pollinated, but there were plenty of carpenter bees working the flowers as well.
-Fruit ranges in size; some were as small as a ping-pong ball, some closer to a tennis ball. Shape also depends on the individual. Mine were round, but the single fruit my wild vine produced was more oblong (sadly, an animal got to it before me).
-I can confirm hardiness down to zone 6b, given the wild vine I discovered. It probably reached further north than that.

Notes: As I mentioned, I only had one producing vine this year, so this isn't exactly a scientific sample. Next year I expect the other two vines to be more productive and give me more data.


#2

Thanks for sharing.
I have an indoor plant and probably not enough light to fruit it?
Currently under LED light 18 hours a day


#3

Yeah, they're really greedy for light. But they still grow with less than full sun, just much, much more slowly (mine ended up many times that size). I bet you'll get flowers eventually. But you won't get fruit unless you cross-pollinate with another (genetically distinct) plant.


#4

Excellent report. Very encouraging.


#5

First signs of life, right on schedule.


#6

Here's a picture from last week. Note how much the vine (circled in blue) has moved from its original location (circled in yellow). It's at least three feet.

My other two, who were shaded and not nearly as happy, haven't appeared yet, but given this I may be looking in the wrong place.


(Those other green shoots you see outside the blue circle are frickin' thistles.)


#7

And here's another week and a half of growth.

Look how aggressively that spreads. I'm seriously considering pulling my others out (one of them has come back, in two places). This one I can easily keep controlled with the road and my lawn mower.


#8

First fruit of the season! We had a dry spell during which they stopped making flowers, but once the rain returned, so did the passion. It looks like I'll have a big harvest this year.


#9

Awesome!


#10

I never gave the final report for year 2. In the spirit of reporting negative results, here it is. This year's theme was "fruit rotting on the vine."

My 3 vines all made fruit, and it looked like it would be a bumper crop. But, aside from a small handful at the beginning of the season, they never ripened. Maypops will drop from the vine when ripe, and these never did. I picked a few anyway just to see what was up, and the story was always the same: unripe fruit, not worth eating. The rest clung to the vines even as they died for the winter.

So what went wrong? I think it was the dry season. There was decent rainfall early in the season, so my vines set a lot of fruit, but when it dried out, the fruit stopped developing

The lesson is simple enough: give it lots of sun and keep it watered. I still count this as an easy fruit, since that is Gardening 101 anyway. I don't think the plant was harmed, but your fruit will suffer if there's no water.

This year I'll be keeping everyone watered from my fish tank. I'll continue to update on my progress.


#11

Mine are not great at ripening most years either.

Where did you get yours? Did you raise from seed? Do you see any variability in the leaves, flowers or fruit?

Scott


#12

I bought 2 from edible landscape, and found one growing locally. The native has oblong fruit, while the two I ordered have spherical fruit. The flowers are also distinguishable (I think the wild one is a bit prettier). Growth seems pretty much the same, driven primarily by where I planted them.

I can't compare taste since they haven't all produced well yet. But I did get a lot of seedlings last year that I will also be trialing.


#13

Mine were mulched heavily, so didn't require much supplemental water. Several of the plants were absolutely destroyed by gulf frittalary caterpillars, though. Those that survived and produced had fruit that was pretty good, but not great.


#14

I may give heavy mulching a try. I'm trying to see how close I can get these vines to zero-maintenance, because I think that's their best niche. (Also because I am lazy.)

I think I saw a single frittilary caterpillar last year, which was kind of exciting. Presumably more will follow this year, especially as I plant out more seedlings. I'll continue to report in this thread if they become a problem pest.


#15

Great thread. I'm trying to get a plant going indoors. It's happening but I'm going to need a second plant for fruit. Gorgeous flowers...that only last for one day...but still.


#16

I've got incarnata (Maypop), Caerulea, Incense, Lavender Lady, Capsularis and edulis. Never seen a fritalary caterpillar in a decade...

Maybe they need a map...

Scott


#17

I bought 2 varieties of edulis this year. I plan to put them in 15 and 30 gallon smart pots. Maypops grow native in my area so I hope the edulis will do well.


#18

@Chills

You asked about variability in flowers and fruit. I posted some pictures here that you can compare.

Do you find that your varieties interbreed at all? I'm still hopeful somebody will manage to cross edulis flavor with maypop hardiness.


#19

Only Capsularis ripens fruit consistently for me. (And the darn things explode open when ripe shooting seeds into other plants.)

I don't believe it is compatible with any of my other varieties.

With the exception of incarnata, all the rest are potted.

Scott

I forgot I also have p. Lutea in the ground as well.


#20

The leaves all seem tri-lobed. Mine pushes 5-7 lobed leaves as well.

Scott