Passion fruit is prized for the exotic, citrus-like flavor of its orange pulp. Use the fruit for juice; or cut it in half and eat it from the skin, seeds and all, with a spoon. Most of the commercially produced passion fruit in the U.S. comes from Cali- fornia and Hawaii, but three types are grown in Florida: purple pas- sion fruit (Passiflora edulis), yellow passion fruit (P. edulis flavicarpa), and giant granadilla (P. quadrangularis). Purple passion fruit is hardy as far north as Tampa; the others are restricted to south Florida.
Purple passion fruit has light yellow-green, tooth-edged leaves with three lobes. White, 2- to 3-in. flowers with white-and-purple crowns bloom in warm weather; rounded or egg-shaped, dark purple fruit to 2 in. long follows in spring and early summer. The plant is self-pollinating. Due to its susceptibility to nematodes, purple passion fruit grown in south Florida must be grafted onto rootstocks of yellow passion fruit or other resistant species.
Yellow passion fruit has leaves and flowers similar to those of purple passion fruit, but its fruit is deep yellow and slightly longer.
Giant granadilla has four-sided stems set with oval leaves to 10 in. long, 6 in. wide. From midsummer to fall, bears fragrant, 5-in., pink to brick-red flowers with prominent bluish purple crowns banded with pink, purple, and white. Oblong, golden fruit is ready for harvest two to three months later; each one may weigh a pound or more. Both yellow passion fruit and giant granadilla need cross-pollination from another passion vine.
Grow passion fruit in well-drained soil, in a spot protected from wind. All types are easy to start from seed sown in flats or pots (be sure seed is fresh). Germination takes 10 to 20 days. From early spring until fall, feed lightly at four- to six-week intervals with a balanced low-nitrogen fertilizer (such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8) that contains micronutrients. Train plants on a trellis, fence, or wall. Harvest purple and yellow passion fruits when fruit turns color and drops to the ground; giant granadilla is ready to pick when it turns deep golden. Prune vines in late winter when they're not actively growing, removing dead and weak wood. Withhold water during winter. Plants are naturally short lived, generally lasting only three to five years.