More commonly known to us as the Passion Fruit and known in SA as the Granadilla, Passiflora Edulis is native to tropical America but the actual place of origin is still unknown. Great news for us Durbanites is that Granadillas are perfect to grow in our subtropical coastal areas of Natal. If however you live somewhere that has very cold winters with frost, you will unfortunately not have success growing Granadillas as they are sensitive to extreme cold. Other good areas in SA for growing Granadilla are Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape
Why grow Granadillas? Aesthetically, Granadilla plants are beautifully lush with the most crazy gorgeous flowers. Add to that, the purple granadilla variety have beautiful purple fruit hanging off the vine. These can go for up to R5 each in store.
Bonus: This plant bears fruit twice a year – 2 main annual crops, a Summer crop and a smaller Winter Crop. Health wise they are high in ascorbic acid and carotenoids.
Ok…you convinced yet? … You can Granadillas from seed or a cutting. seedling. Seeds store for 4 months and can be started in seedling trays.
No patience to grow your own from scratch then off you go to your local nursery or alternatively order a plant from ABF in season. Select the plant with short strong shoots and not the ones with long bare stems and shoots at the top. Whilst there, add bone meal, compost & manure to your cart.
Where & how to plant your new exotic looking plant:
Find a warm protected spot. Now prepare a 60cm x 60cm site of soil by enriching it with the manure, compost and your bone meal. This deep soil prep is necessary for good root growth and to make sure the soil has good drainage as Granadilla plants are sensitive to wet soil conditions. Water the potted plant before transplanting and then plant it at the same level in the ground as it was in the pot. Push a thin stake next to the seedling for training the plant up to reaching the wire or trellis. Firm the soil around the plant. If you are planting more than one plant, space them about 2,5m apart.
Your Granadilla plant will be a very vigorous, twining passionate climber and will therefore need support. Train it against a trellis, pergola, wires or enhance an old school swimming pool fence. It will twist itself around any support.
Tie the plant to the stake regularly and pinch out side shoots until the main shoot leader reaches the top of the support. The Leader can then be trained along the top of the support in one or both directions ( in my case and photo, a wall ). To do this, allow the leader to branch at the top and train the branches in opposite directions by winding them loosely around the wire. Let the side shoots hang down.
in one direction along the top of the wall.
Taking Care of you plant:
In summer rainfall areas water the plants well once a month during Winter and twice a month in Summer.
Granadilla plants bear fruit on the current season’s growth, hence pruning is necessary. Prune the side shoots back to 60cm from the ground twice a year after they have finished bearing fruit. Thin the plant to prevent overcrowding and overlapping. Remove dead or diseased wood.
Fertilize seasonally, especially at the start of Spring and after fruiting. I use comfrey tea as soon as the first buds appear to promote fruiting. Keep the soil mulched with compost at all times. Your plants lifespan is about 3 years.
Watch out for woodiness or bullet disease which is caused by a virus. The leaves yellow and curl, the fruit develops a hard woody swelling and they eventually crack. There is no cure for the disease, infected plants are to be dug up and destroyed.
Flowering and Fruiting:
Each flower is not self fertile but it is not necessary to grow more than one plant for pollination. Flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects.
Your first fruits will be ready about 6-9 months after planting. The vines flower in Spring to produce a summer crop, then again in Autumn for a smaller Winter Crop.
Side view of flower and forming fruit
Pick the fruit when they are fully developed and light purple in colour.
Let them ripen in your kitchen, they are ready to eat when the they are dark purple and the skin has started to shrivel.
Granadillas yield a sweet and tangy pulp. The flesh of the ripe fruit is used to make a wonderful fruit juice, is added to fruit salads, used to flavor icing, yoghurt and ice-cream and as a cheesecake topping. There are no rules and having tried it myself, Granadilla even makes a delicious green salad topping.
Passion Fruit Juice Recipe:
5 Ripe passion fruit
- Cut the granadillas in half and scoop the pulp into a blender
- Add 2 Cups of Water & 3 tablespoons of sugar – blend for 2 minutes – trying not to break the seeds.
- Pour through a sieve to remove the seeds, pushing the pulp through the sieve with a back of a spoon.
- Add remaining ice cold water and sugar to taste. Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Add some ice and drink as a juice. Had a hard week, add a tot of vodka or rum for a quick cocktail.
Passion Fruit Cordial Recipe:
1 cup passion fruit pulp
1 1/2 cups of Water
1 cup of Sugar
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Heat Sugar, water and lemon juice over a low heat until the sugar dissolves
- Increase heat and bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes so that the syrup can thicken.
- Stir in Passion fruit pulp and set aside to cool.
- Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds, pushing the pulp through the sieve with a back of a spoon. Pour into a jug and refrigerate.
4 week life span – great and refreshing with sparkling water.
Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening by Jane Griffiths
Down-to-Earth Fruit & Vegetable Gardening in South Africa by – Zoe Gilbert and Jack Hadfield