An Aussie backyard isn’t complete without a passionfruit vine rambling over the back fence or covering up the broken timbers of an ageing wooden shed.
My childhood summers were often spent watching the fruit ripen tantalisingly, then tearing open their tough wrinkly skins to slurp up the sweet, aromatic pulp within.
But it’s the passionfruit’s flowers that truly captivated me – huge, delicately-intricate lacy petals of white, orange, pink and purple hues. I would wait for each flower to magically unfurl – revealing a beauty no bee could resist.
I immediately planted a vine on my edible balcony when I discovered passionfruit grow equally well in pots. The variety I’m growing – Nellie Kelly – is hardy and reliable. It can withstand light frosts and is suitable for all but the nippiest parts of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
I’ve filled my 30cm x 30cm x 30cm pot with a well-drained potting mix rich in organic matter and with a couple of added scoops of well-rotted manure. It’s in a full-sun position near my vertical wall so it can wrap its tendrils around the frame as it grows and spreads its glossy dark green leaves.
I water deeply a few times a week – more as it warms up in summer. Dry soil will lead to flower and fruit drop so always keep your passionfruit well-watered.
I feed my vines with an all-purpose liquid fertiliser in early spring and early autumn to keep the plant healthy and productive.
Now’s a good time to put in your vine and you should start seeing your first fruit in about six to eight months’ time – depending on the passionfruit variety you select.
Pruning is important to keep your passionfruit healthy and productive. The vines only fruit at the ends of their branches so, after a crop has finished, cut back the ends to encourage offshoots which will lead to more fruit in the next season.
And make sure all the flowers are easy to access for the bees to work their pollinating magic.
The fruit will ripen on the vine and can be gently twisted off or will drop to the ground when they’re ready. Once picked, passionfruit will not ripen any further.
And the best way to enjoy your passionfruit? Of course nothing beats passionfruit drizzled over a whipped cream and banana pavlova or simply spooned into a glass topped with sparkling mineral water.
Indira Naidoo co-hosts Sydney’s 2CH breakfast show with Trevor Sinclair from 6am-9am Monday-Friday.
Purchase copies of Indira Naidoo’s garden cookbooks The Edible Balcony and The Edible City at Dymocks.