Growing Granadillas

Growing Granadillas

Passiflora edulis, commonly known as granadilla or purple passionfruit, is an ever popular vine grown for its lush, bright green foliage, stunningly striking flowers and delicious, juicy fruit.

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The name ‘passionfruit’ is an English translation from its Latin genus name Passiflora and has no implication to any form of forbidden fruit!  Rather it has a religious connotation and it is believed that the plant was named by 16th century Spanish missionaries in South America (from where it hails) as the Flor de las cinco lagas (Flower of the five wounds) to illustrate the passion and crucifixion of Christ to the native people.

A Few Pointers

Granadilla vines are very strong and vigorous growers and require firm support in the form of a trellis, fence, wall, arch or gazebo to grow up against.

They do best in moderate temperatures (min. 5°C / max. 30°C), so if you live in a very hot area they should be planted where they get mostly morning sun and are protected from the harsh afternoon heat.  In very cold climates they need to be planted in a warm, protected space, e.g. against a sunny wall.

In areas with very cold winters granadillas could go dormant.  It should, however, bounce back again in spring to reward you with cool shade and passion fruits galore.

Granadillas have an average lifespan of 3 years, but they can live longer if properly tended to.  Watch your older plant and if it seems to decline or the fruiting decrease drastically, it probably needs to be replaced by a new one.

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Planting your Granadilla Vine

Granadillas are sold at Lifestyle Home Garden as strong, young vines ready to be planted in their new homes. They have a deep root system and need very good drainage. Choose a spot in full sun (or morning sun only in very hot areas) with shelter from heavy winds. Prepare the soil in advance by digging a hole of 1m x 1m. Add a generous amount of compost and a handful of bone meal or organic 2:3:2 and agricultural lime (according to specifications) to the excavated soil. Mix thoroughly and place back in the hole.

The best time for planting your new granadilla vine is late winter to mid- spring once all danger of frost has passed. When planting your vine, plant it no deeper than it was in the bag or pot you bought it in.

Ensure that the structure that will support your vine is strong enough to bear the load. Granadilla vines can grow up to 6m high and they get pretty heavy with all the lush leaves and fruit.  Don’t let them grow against other plants or trees as they will very quickly get out of hand and take over.  Initially you might have to tie the main stem to the support with a soft tie, but as soon as the little tendrils on the shoots start attaching themselves you’re A for away.

If you’re planting more than one vine, space the planting holes 1.5m apart.

Apply a generous layer of mulch to keep the roots cool and the soil moist.

Granadillas do grow well in large pots, provided they have a supporting structure to attach themselves to. For information on container planting click |HERE|

Watering

Granadillas like to be kept moist, but absolutely hate being waterlogged, so good drainage is key and a clay soil will not be suitable. Thorough and deep watering is particularly essential while the fruits are maturing.  If the soil is allowed to dry out during this stage, the fruit might shrivel up or fall from the plant.

Fertilising

Granadillas are fast, vigorous growers and need a lot of nutrients.

At the beginning of the growing season, in July/August, feed the plants with an organic 2:3:2 fertiliser.

During December apply organic 3:1:5 fertiliser and in April feed with an organic 8:1:5 or 6:3:4 fertiliser.

In addition an application of organic liquid fertiliser, containing micro-nutrients, can be made once a month during the active growing season to prevent deficiencies.

Harvesting your Granadillas

The first fruits should be ready for harvesting about 6-9 months after planting. From its second year onwards your granadilla vine should produce 2 crops annually – an abundant summer crop from November to January and a lighter winter crop in June and July.

Pick the fruits when fully developed and dark purple in colour.   It should fall from the plant when you shake it gently.  The ripe fruits sometimes drop from the plant which makes it easy to collect.  Fruit wrinkle as they mature and, like some of us, this is when they are at their best! Harvest fruits early in the morning before the heat of the day.

The pulp of the fruit is the edible part and is delicious if scooped out and eaten straight from the shell.  It is also very popular on a variety of tarts and desserts, particularly Pavlova.  The pulp can be added to drinks, either fresh or reduced to a syrup.  It is rich in Vitamins A and C and anti-oxidants and the seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre.

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Pruning Passion Fruits

In early spring remove all dead and diseased growth and thin out overcrowded and unwanted growth. Cut healthy, shoots back by about one third to promote new, strong growth and abundant fruit. Granadillas only set fruit on new growth so pruning is essential.

Companion Planting

Passion fruit flowers cannot be pollinated by wind and rely on pollinating insects, especially bees, for successful pollination. Planting a variety of flowers and flowering herbs around your granadilla will attract pollinating insects to it – this is vital for quality fruit formation.

Good companions:  Potatoes, Swiss chard and spinach, carrots, strawberries, brinjals, lettuce, marjoram, Melissa, marigolds and members of the onion family.

Bad companions:  Maize, sweet potatoes

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