If you’re a fan of both sweet and sour flavours, you should be growing granadillas in your garden. Also known as passion fruit, this plant is an easy-to-grow climber that shoots up incredibly quickly to produce delicious, tangy fruits. And while you’re waiting for the fruit to arrive, you can also take a look at their fascinating alien-like flowers that provide ornamental interest too.
The Passiflora genus to which granadilla belongs contains an impressive 550 species, each bearing the unique flowers the genus is known for. Only three of those fall under the granadilla fruit classification – Passiflora quadrangularis, Passiflora incarnata and the most common, Passiflora edulis..
In South Africa, only one granadilla type is sold and cultivated. This is the purple granadilla known as ‘Ester’, a cross between yellow and purple granadilla hybrids. This type produces the familiar fruit with a tough purple shell and orange-yellow pulp on the inside.
Keep In Mind
Passiflora edulis is listed as a Category 2 invasive species in parts of South Africa, giving them special exemption for commercial growers. Those in certain regions of the country should be aware of the latest legislation, published in September 2021: “a. 2 in Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North-West. b. Not listed in urban areas in Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu- Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North-West. c. Not listed elsewhere. d. The fruit of the purple granadilla is not listed if used for human consumption.”
Granadilla vines can be purchased in bags or pots from your local nursery or online, although they can be difficult to find due to their invasive status.
The first job in planting is to identify the perfect spot for your passionfruit. As they have deep root systems, the soil should be loose and well-draining and in a spot with full sun for the strongest growth and best fruits. In hotter climates, they may also benefit from light afternoon shade to prevent scorching. Amend the soil with compost and a handful of bonemeal deep in the planting hole to improve soil conditions.
It’s best to keep them away from nearby plants or trees as they can compete for resources and quickly take over. Keep them in an isolated position close to a fence or trellis to provide support. As the vines can grow well over 4m long, the supports should be tall and strong enough to hold the weight of the fruits.
If you have a large enough pot and sturdy support, granadillas can also be grown in containers. This also helps keep the vines contained, great for smaller gardens with little space for outdoor planting.
Granadillas are thirsty plants that need plenty of water, especially once fruit development begins. Keep the soil lightly moist but never waterlogged by planting in very well-draining soil. When planting in containers, they will need even more watering, potentially as much as twice per day when temperatures are high.
These plants are also quick growers and devour nutrients at impressive rates. Feed the plants once per season with a slow-release fertiliser to ensure a continual supply.
It will take around two seasons of growth for your plant to begin producing fruit. Thereafter, you can expect one round of fruit in early spring into summer and a second round in June. Pick the fruit when they are easy to pull of the plant by hand and the outside is dark purple in colour. Cut in half, scoop out the pulp and pour over salads or use in your favourite dessert.