“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an old adage that everybody understands to mean that the outer appearance of something may not be wholly indicative of what’s inside. This is absolutely true for the fruit of Passiflora edulis, passion fruit. When ripe, these fruits are hard and wrinkled, looking more like something that was forgotten in the back of the refrigerator for a month or two. Inside that fibrous rind, though, are crunchy seeds swimming in a seductively tart and sweet pulp. The flavor is indescribable and possibly addictive. Once you’ve tasted passion fruit, you may crave it forever.
Passion fruit shows up at our local Farmers Market when it is in season early to mid summer, but the vines are easy to grow at home, too. They do grow 20-30 feet in length, so plan ahead and provide a trellis, arbor, or other support for them to climb on. Each plant is self-fertile; no pollinator is required to produce fruit. While passion fruit likes regular water, it also dislikes having its roots too wet, so plant in well-drained soil. Full sun and protection from strong winds will give it the habitat it is used to from its home in sunny South America.
Besides the tasty harvest of fruit, passion fruit flowers are quite ornamental. There are a number of other species of Passiflora (watch this space for more on this subject) that are grown just for their showy flowers, but even this species has intriguing blossoms. Passion flowers have an intricate arrangement of petals, stamens, and pistils. The petals radiate out in a flat disk that is the background for a secondary whorl of many thread-like filaments. The stamens and pistil are on a stalk arising from the center in an intricate and sculptural display. In this species, the petals are pale lavender to white, but it is the lavender-shading-to-white filaments and reproductive parts that provide the show. Put some passion in your garden with these showy flowers and exotic fruits.
•Give houseplants that hail from warmer climes a break outdoors. Don’t expose them to too much sun. Park them under a tree or on a covered patio and douse them with a friendly shower.
•Monitor soil moisture and adjust automatic irrigation controllers as needed. Watch potted plants carefully, too.
•If you don’t have a bird bath, set out a shallow container full of water for them to drink from and take a quick bath. Change water often to avoid mosquitoes.