GAINESVILLE — Got a passion for fruit? Perhaps you have been pondering the mystery of the passion fruit tree? If it is on your must-try list to add to your edible home landscape, then you are in luck.
Extension agents and faculty at University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) have just released Passion Fruit Problems in the Home Landscape, a new guide designed for the home grower who is either contemplating or already growing the versatile fruit tree. Available on the UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS), the document answers the most common questions and troubleshoots the most frequent problems that Extension agents and faculty have received from home growers.
Passion fruit is a perennial, flowering vine from Brazil that climbs by strands or tendrils. Its height and proliferation vary depending on the structure on which it climbs. In Florida, purple and yellow passion fruit have been widely cultivated by homeowners for years. The fruit propagates by seeds and cuttings. South Florida’s subtropical climate lets passion fruit grow year-round.
A growing number of homeowners have become enamored by the versatile health and aesthetic benefits of owning a passion fruit tree over the years.
“After I wrote several blogs about passion fruit, I received many phone calls and emails regarding some problems in its cultivation,” said Amir Rezazadeh, a field and fruit crops agent at UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County. “Other than beautiful flowers, the fruits are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. Also, the species can be used as a hedge or placed to grow on trellises, if properly pruned.”
If you own a passion fruit tree, then you may already enjoy the bounty of its fruits, since we are at the end of harvest time. Because the passion fruit tree also doubles as a flowering vine that blossoms at certain times of the year, UF/IFAS experts remind home growers that it takes a commitment to growing what you love much like a marriage that makes a passion fruit tree blossom to its fullest potential.
One of the main takeaways the authors stress is how there are many factors that affect longevity and productivity of passion fruit vines, including environmental stresses, pests and diseases in Florida.
The document provides a comprehensive guide to give home growers a sense of what to expect and how to solve common problems with growing them on home landscapes.
Among some of the more common questions asked by homeowners and addressed are:
• What are the best varieties of passion fruit for homeowners?
• Why is my passion fruit vine flowering but not producing any fruit?
• Why do passion fruit vines produce fruit with soft seeds but no juice?
• Why are my fruit misshaped or malformed?
• What are the small holes in the leaves of my vines?
“The major problem that homeowners have with this tree is that they do not get a reasonable number of fruit. The reason is that passion fruit needs cross-pollination, meaning you should plant different varieties close together to get more fruit,” said Rezazadeh. “Home growers also need to pollinate the tree by hand.”
“Growing passion fruit needs a lot of experience, knowledge, and work. Ignoring any issues makes for a lot of problems and leads to many questions,” said Rezazadeh. “With the high number of pests and diseases in Florida, growing any crop including passion fruit, can be difficult.”