Passion fruit is a vine crop grown on overhead trellis. The fruit is nearly round to oval in shape having amazing nutritional and medicinal properties. Fruits are filled with an aromatic mass of doublewalled membranous sacs containing pulpy orange color juice containing many dark brown to black seeds.
Nutritional Value and Uses: Passion fruits are very rich in vitamins A and C. They also contain a good amount of potassium, calcium, iron and other micronutrients required for the human body. It is also popular for its medicinal properties and that is why passion fruit juice is served as refreshing and calming beverages.
Soil and Climate: Passion fruit grows well in fertile, porous and welldrained soil with neutral soil pH. A moderate climate is good for the growth of passion fruits but climatic extremes like chilling cold or scorching heat is dangerous for their cultivation.
Varieties under Cultivation: Panama and golden passion fruit are the best suited varieties under tropical climates in South India. Passion fruit is propagated by seeds and stem cuttings; however, vegetative propagation with cuttings can bear fruits earlier than propagation with seeds.
Plantation and Manuring: Passion fruit can be planted during January-February or June-July when the temperature is relatively warm with a good amount of relative humidity. Plants grow on vigorous vines that climb on the supports with the help of tendrils. It is always good to provide a wiremesh overhead trellis to support to vines that can ensure air circulation and does not block the sunlight. Passion fruit bears fruits on new branches of the vine. Therefore, the pruning or cutting of old vines is necessary to boost up growth of new vines to bear fruits. Manuring can be done with 5 kg of welldecomposed compost mixed with 1 kg of neem cake at the time of planting with light, but frequent, manuring in the fruiting stages. The manuring dose should be repeated after each heavy pruning each year. After each manuring the vines should be irrigated as well as at particular intervals while observing the soilmoisture condition in the basin of the growing plant. As a rule of thumb, plants may be irrigated 4-5 days in summer, 8-10 days in winter and as per need in the rainy season.
Plant Protection: If the bottom of the passion fruit vine is exposed to direct contact with water it can be infected by phytophthora and Fusarium fungus causing wilting of the whole vine. This can be prevented by avoiding direct contact of irrigation water with the vine and, if already infected, drenching of Bordeaux mixture or copper fungicide can control the disease. Passion fruit is also attacked by insect pests like sucking bugs, mealy bugs that suck sap from leaves and vines and fruit flies that damage the growing fruits. These insect pests can be kept under control by spraying plantbased insecticides like neemark and applying a sufficient quantity of neem cake as manure to the growing plant.
Harvesting: When passion fruits get matured the skin color of fruits turns from green to yellow. Over matured fruits will drop off the vines automatically. The peak season for harvesting is November-December. On average, each vine can bear 150-200 fruits every year for 3-4 years.