Passion flowers (Passiflora) are beautiful flowering plants in various shapes and colors. The flower and the fruit get their name from the unique form of their blossoms, which resemble the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. They are often grown for ornamental value, but do they also produce passion fruits?
Passion flowers produce passion fruits, such as the edible fruit of the species Passiflora edulis. These fruits are usually round or oval and can be either yellow or purple. However, they will not produce passion fruit unless pollination occurs through insect agents or by hand.
This article will further explore the relationship between passion flowers and fruits and discuss how to grow passion flowers properly. Read on to learn more about these fascinating plants.
Do All Passion Flowers Produce Fruit?
There are over 500 species of passion flowers, and not all produce fruits. Only a handful of passion flower species have edible fruits for humans. However, most passion fruits sold commercially are purple and yellow fruit.
Common Passion Fruit Varieties That Produce Fruit
With such a wide passion fruit variety, it can take time to decide which is suitable for you, especially when you seek delicious fruit!
Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular fruit-bearing varieties:
- Purple passion fruit is the most well-known plant. It has thick, wrinkled skin and sweet, aromatic pulp. The flavor is pleasant and slightly acidic, making it a versatile ingredient in sweet and savory dishes.
- The yellow passion fruit is smaller and more round than the purple variety. The skin is smooth, and the pulp is tart and a tangy and excellent addition to jams, jellies, and juices.
- The granadilla is native to South America and has a rugged, leathery outer shell. The pulpy flesh inside is sweet and fragrant, with a hint of citrus flavor. The seeds are edible but can be pretty chewy.
Why Do Some Passion Flowers Fail To Produce Fruit?
The distinct morphology of these flowers means that although they have male and female parts, they may not always produce fruit.
Most Passion Fruit Plants Are Self-Sterile
The yellow passion fruit (Passiflora edulis flavicarpa) and the Passiflora edulis, or purple passion fruit, are hermaphroditic, which contain both male and female parts. However, most of these species are self-sterile, meaning they cannot reproduce themselves without pollinating aids.
Most Passion Fruit Plants Require a Pollinating Agent
The passion fruit plant uses a pollinating agent to fertilize the organ and produce fruit. If self-sterile, a pollinating agent must transfer pollen from the anthers to the pistil or another passion fruit plant.
For this reason, pollinating agents such as honey bees or carpenter bees (Xylocopa sonorina) must be present, and even human hand-pollination can be employed. Without these aids, however, the chances of success are much slimmer.
Passion Fruits and Self-Incompatibility
Besides the self-sterility issue, some species, such as the yellow varieties, will not reproduce with themselves and require pollination outside a single variety.
Cross-pollination plays an essential role in ensuring a successful crop. It’s best to have multiple varieties of the same species planted together to increase the chances of fertilization and fruit production.
Most Passion Fruit Can’t Wind Pollinate
Wind-pollinated plants, such as corn or wheat, rely on wind to carry pollen from one plant to another. Unfortunately, this is not an option with passion fruits because their flowers have a tight structure that does not allow them to be wind-pollinated.
Plus, the pollen is sticky and heavy, making it tough to travel through the air.
For this reason, the presence of honey bees, carpenter bees, or even human hand-pollination is paramount to ensure that you fertilize the female organ of the flower so fruit production can take place.
You can enjoy your own sweet and delicious passion fruits with the right conditions and suitable pollinating agents.
How To Hand Pollinate Your Passion Flower To Produce Fruit
- Once you have identified a flower ready for hand pollination, gently hold the petals back so that you can see the pistil (the female organ).
- Transfer pollen from the anthers to the stigma using your fingers or a small brush.
- You want to ensure that the pollen falls directly onto the stigma, so perform a brushing motion.
- Be sure to cover the entire surface of the stigma with pollen. Repeat this process for each flower that you wish to pollinate.
If you are unsure which part of the passion flower is male or female, check out this handy clip on hand pollinating your passion fruit flowers:
How To Ensure Your Passion Flower Produces Fruit
Depending on the species, passion flower plants can be either annuals or perennials. They typically have large, colorful flowers that bloom from summer through fall. Even if you hand pollinate your passion plant—you need to ensure they are healthy to produce fruit. Let’s explore some of these factors.
Passion fruit plants need full sun, partial shade, and well-drained soil high in organic matter. They’re relatively drought-tolerant once established, but they’ll need to be watered regularly during the blooming season.
You need to provide at least 4 hours of direct sunlight each day for them to flower and fruit. So plant your passion flower in an area with access to lots of light, and make sure the soil is well-draining.
Keeping the soil well hydrated is essential, as this can cause the flower buds to drop off before they open. Fertilize your passion flower plant every two weeks during the blooming season with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. You can also add compost or manure to the soil around the plant to help it thrive.
If you want to learn more about using triple 10 fertilizer, you can read my complete guide here: The Complete Guide to Using Triple 10 Fertilizer
Pruning is essential for keeping your passion flower plant healthy and vibrant. Cut back dead or dying leaves after the blooming season is over. You can also cut back any crossing or rubbing stems, so the plant has a neat shape. Be sure to sterilize your pruning shears before each use to avoid spreading diseases.
If you’re looking for a more manicured look, you can lightly trim the vines after flowering to keep them from getting too big and unruly. Pruning your passion fruit this way will also encourage bushier growth that looks fuller and produces more flowers. But overall, this practice ensures the vines are under control.
For more information on how to take care of your passion flowers after they bloom, read my article to help them bear fruit: What to Do With Passion Flowers After They Flower
Common Problems That May Influence Fruit Production
You should be aware of a few things before growing passion flowers. Here are three common problems you may encounter when growing this plant:
One of the most common problems with passion flowers is that they are susceptible to attack by various pests, such as aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites.
If you notice holes or burgundy spots appearing on the leaves, there’s a good chance that pests are to blame. The best way to combat pests is to use an insecticide or hire a pest control company to take care of the problem.
Passion flowers can also be susceptible to diseases like Collar rot, root rot, and crown rot. Powdery mildew looks like gray or white powder on the plant’s leaves, while the signs of root rot are brown or black spots on the roots.
If you notice either of these issues, immediately treating the plant with a fungicide is essential.
This climbing vine also requires a lot of water, so if you live in an area with low rainfall, you’ll need to water your plants regularly.
Be sure to give them a deep watering at least once a week to prevent the leaves from turning yellow or wilting. It’s also essential to ensure the soil drains well so the roots don’t sit in water for too long, leading to root rot .
How Can You Tell When Passion Fruits Are Ready To Harvest?
When it comes to passion fruits, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to tell when they’re ready to harvest:
- You’ll want to ensure that the fruits are fully ripe and darkened.
- You should also give them a gentle squeeze—if they’re soft to the touch, they’re ready to be picked.
- Another thing to look for is whether or not the fruits are starting to fade. This coloration signifies that they’re past their prime and won’t taste as good.
- They’re also probably ready to be harvested if they have fallen off the vine.
If you see any of these signs, it’s time to harvest your passion fruits!
Passion flowers are beautiful, intricately designed plants commonly used in floral arrangements.
While not all species of passion flower produce fruit, most of our garden varieties yield a juicy, delicious treat. Once you learn the ins and outs of passion fruit pollination, you can harvest these tart and sweet fruits right from your backyard!