If you are thinking of growing passion fruit in your garden, there is no need to have hesitations. Read the rest of this post and we’ll share with you some of the things that you need to know about growing passion fruit, as well as its varieties, uses, and health benefits.
Background and History
Maracuya, granadilla, or parcha, they all refer to the same thing – passion fruit. A member of the Passiflora family, it is a fruit is a native to South America. To be specific, historical accounts point to some part of Brazil and Argentina as its origin. In the 16th century, Christian missionaries have set foot for the first time in South America. Here, they found passion fruit and they called it flor de las cinco laagas, which literally translates to flower of the five wounds. It is also a symbol of the crucifixion of Christ. The flower of the passion fruit has five petals, which is also said to be a representation of the five disciples.
It was in the 19th century when passion fruit found its way throughout the world. At such time, it was one of the popular commercial crops in Israel, South Africa, and Australia, among other countries. Until now, passion fruit is well-loved amongst many people, especially because of its abundance of health benefits. We will tackle more of this in the next sections of this article.
Physical Characteristics of Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is a climbing and vigorous vine, which makes it important to have generous space available in the garden if you would like to grow this plant. Its height can reach up to 4.5 meters. On the other hand, the spread can range from 2.4 to 4.5 meters. It has evergreen and alternate leaves, each with three lobes upon reaching maturity. Its length can be three to eight inches. They are glossy on the top and pale on the bottom. The flowers, meanwhile, have a width of up to three inches, which are also known for their distinct fragrance.
Its most important part, obviously, is the fruit. The fruit will be nearly round in shape. The width can be 1.5 to three inches. The skin is smooth, tough, and waxy. Its color will depend on the specific variety that you will choose, but in most instances, it will be purple, yellow, or pumpkin. Inside the fruit, there can be up to 250 small seeds, which are in a double-walled membrane that separates it from the rind. It has a sweet or tart flavor, similar to guava.
Varieties of Passion Fruit
When planting passion fruit, one of the first things that you will need to decide on would be the specific variety to grow. If you are clueless on which to choose, below are some of the common options that are available:
This small fruit, which is oval or round, is one of the most important for global businesses, especially in the juice industry. It has a smooth skin, but can show heavy wrinkles upon surpassing maturity. On average, the fruits will have a diameter of four to six centimeters. Its color starts as green, but when it is ripe, it turns to purple.
From all the types of passion fruit, this is the most popular in the world. It has an aromatic pulp, unlike in the case of others that tend to be acidic. The ripe fruit is yellow and its size is only a bit larger than the purple passion fruit. Because of its ability to resist soil-borne pathogens, it is an ideal choice for a rootstock.
Tropical climate is one of the most important growing requirements of this fruit. It grows best in a land that is at 1,700 meters above sea level. The fruit can reach a diameter of up to one foot. The vine, on the other hand, can grow up to 50 feet in one season. Although the fruit is tasty, it is not as flavorful as other varieties.
If you live in a place with a cool climate, this is a good type of passion fruit to grow. It is a favorite for many people because of its excellent taste. The skin is yellow or orange. The inside, on the other hand, is pale in color. On average, the length is 11 centimeters.
With a yellow and oval fruit, and as the name implies, this variety looks very much like a banana. The edible pulp is orange, which also has a very good taste, making it one of the common choices for home-made juices. There is a slight acidity in its flavor.
From a refreshing juice to a one-of-a-kind cocktail, there are plenty of ways to use passion fruit, providing you with the opportunities to enjoy its many health benefits, including those that we will briefly mention below:
- Prevents Cancer: The ability of passion fruit to fight cancer is primarily due to its anti-carcinogenic activity. It can fight free radicals, preventing the healthy cells from mutation and being cancerous. It also has flavonoids that can further enhance its cancer-fighting capabilities.
- Improves Heart Health: If you want to have a healthier heart, you need to increase your consumption of passion fruit. It has niacin and riboflavin, both of which are essentials in the healthy functioning of the heart. To add, passion fruit also improves blood circulation and keep blood pressure in check, allowing it to prevent a variety of heart problems.
- Boosts Immunity: Passion fruit is a potent source of Vitamin C, which allows it to enhance the immune system. This lessens the susceptibility to common illnesses, such as cough and colds. It will be instrumental in neutralizing free radicals, preventing them from harming the body.
- Improves Digestion: One serving of passion fruit is enough to provide the body with up to 98% of the fiber that it needs. This is important in improving bowel movement and in the prevention of digestive problems, such as constipation.
- Improves Skin Health: Pasion fruit is also helpful in maintaining the youthfulness of the skin. It has Vitamins A and C, carotene, and riboflavin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that will have a smoothening effect to the skin.
- Strengthens the Bone: If you are afraid that you will have weak bones when you age, you have a good reason to be eating more passion fruits. It has minerals that can help in the significant improvement of bone density, which will also lessen the possibility of having osteoporosis.
- Treats Insomnia: Eating passion fruit also has positive links in improving your sleep patterns. It has a compound known as harman, which will work like a sedative. This will provide a calming effect and hence, make you sleep quicker.
Uses and Applications
Here are some of the many uses of passion fruit, which can provide you with more reasons to consider having it a new addition to your garden:
- Healthy Snack: Given the benefits of passion fruit that have been outlined above, it is apparent that this will be a great alternative to junk food if you like some snacks. It is a sweet treat that also does not add too many fats and calories in your body.
- Refreshing Drinks: There are also many ways to incorporate passion fruit in your beverages. It will make a great choice for a refreshing summer cooler, as well as a sweet tropical cocktail.
- Cooking and Baking: There are many pastries that you can bake at home, using passion fruit as the main ingredient. One of the perfect examples is a sweet passion fruit tart. It can also add a zesty and sweet flavor to a number of dishes, depending on how creative you are with your recipes.
- Jams: If you like eating breads, you can also make your own passion fruit jam at home. It is a simple way to preserve passion fruits, making sure that you can use them for a long time. Mashing and heating the passion fruit are the most important steps. Everything else is relatively easy.
How to Plant Passion Fruits
Unlike in the case of other fruits, there is no problem in starting passion fruits from seeds. As long as they are fresh, the germination period will be quick. Gather the seeds straight from the fruit. Wash them and dry in an area with shade. Too much heat can cause the seed to dry too much and will affect germination. If you do this step right, it will take only roughly ten to twenty days before the seeds will germinate.
Look for a container where you will initially plant the vine. It should be made from a lightweight material so that it will be easy for you to move the plant around. Fill the container with your choice of soil mix. It should not be too compact and must be well-draining. Ideally, it should contain compost, which will enhance the nutrients that are present.
Dig small holes using a stick or your finger. The holes should be at least two inches apart from each other. Sow the seeds on the holes. Cover the seed with soil, but not too much. Water it lightly. The goal is to provide the soil with moisture, but not to make it soggy.
At this point, all that you have to do is to wait for the seeds to sprout. When it is big enough, you can now transplant it in the garden. Be careful when pulling the plant, making sure that the root remains in place. Plant it in a large hole in the garden, which should have soil amendments, such as mulch. Cover the roots properly and press firmly from the top. Lightly water the top of the ground. Also, be sure to provide support or trellis since passion fruit is a vine.
Common Pests and Diseases
There are many diseases that can be evident in passion fruits. In extreme cases, this will translate to economic loss and minimal yield. The fruit may not grow at the right size and can also be unfit for human consumption. Some of the most common diseases include grease spot, bacterial blast, bitter rot, crown canker, and phytophthora root rot. On the other hand, for the pests, the causes of infestation include coreid bugs, stem weevil, flies, mites, aphids, scales, and mealybugs, among others.
How to Take Care of Passion Fruits
To lessen frustrations and to ensure the healthy growth of your passion fruit, here are some of the most important things you have to keep in mind:
- One of the most important things to note about passion fruits is that they are voracious eaters. Make sure to feed them regularly. With this, one of the most important is the application of fertilizer, which should be done in the spring and at least once a week in the summer. Nonetheless, be careful when fertilizing. Too much nitrogen fertilizer will encourage foliage growth, but no flowers and fruits.
- Aside from using fertilizers, there are other ways to feed the plant with the nutrients that are essential for its growth, especially during the first few weeks. Compost and mulch will help, especially in retaining moisture in the soil.
- At one point, you also have to prune the passion fruit. This will help to encourage a more compact growth. You also need to cut out any part of the plant that looks weak or sick, especially leaves and the fruits. Do this early on so that the problem will not spread to the healthy parts of the plant.
- Training the vine is also essential. Be sure to provide support and trellises. When there is a fresh vine stretching out, tie the base on the trellis. Do not tie it too tight as this can choke the plant and affect its overall health.
- Take out the weeds around the plant regularly. They will compete with the passion fruit in terms of the absorption of nutrients from the soil. By keeping the weeds away, the nutrients will direct to the passion fruit.
- While bees are helpful in pollination, you can also help. Self-pollination is quite an easy process. Use a small brush for collecting pollens from male flowers. Brush it on female flowers.
Harvesting Passion Fruits
The right timing is one of the most important concerns for any novice gardener. In most cases, a ripe fruit will drop off on its own from the vine, which minimizes the effort that you have to spare. In some instances, however, you will have to pay attention to the visible signs of ripeness. Watch out for the change in color. When it turns purple or yellow, depending on the variety, you can harvest it already. Simply twist the fruit from its stem. There is no need to use scissors. After which, store it in a safe place and consume as soon as possible to avoid the fruit from rotting.
As long as you live in a place with weather that passion fruit can tolerate, growing this plant does not need to be a difficult undertaking. Pay attention to its ideal growing conditions, as well as proper care and maintenance of the plant. With patience and perseverance, it will not take long before all of your hard work will finally be able to bear fruit.