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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Passionfruit a Challenge for Las Vegas but Possible

Q. I put a passionfruit tree on the north side of our house. I noticed many flowers but later on after self-pollination the flowers fall off. What do I do to prevent it?

A. Passionfruit is tropical and at best a semi tropical vine that bears a delicious, seedy fruit with very little care under tropical conditions. It is not a tree so it does need to be supported by a trellis of some sort. This is the cold desert so this plant is handled a little bit differently here.
Intercropping passionfruit, strawberries and kale in Kenya

In the desert, passionfruit requires more care than it does in the tropics and it will most likely freeze back to the ground every year. But if the roots are protected from winter cold it will grow again in the spring.
It is good you planted it on the north side of a building but the East side would be even better so that it gets light in the morning and shade from the late afternoon sun. It likes a lot of compost added to the soil at the time of planting and to the top of the soil each year.
Giant passionfruit growing on a trellis over aquaculture in the Philippines
Wood chip mulch applied to the surface helps keep the heat off of the roots and preserve moisture in the soil. Drip irrigation works but this plant may perform better if rooted in a large basin or donut that fills with water.

There are many different types and varieties of passionfruit and some perform better than others in the desert. Varieties that have performed in the Phoenix, Arizona, area include Frederick, Incense and Blue Crown. More can be read about their care in Phoenix at http://www.phoenixtropicals.com/passionFruit.html

Just remember that Phoenix has warmer winters than we have so we must apply better winter protection. They generally have better soils than we have as well.
Passionfruit is a heavy feeder so fertilize them frequently. They set fruit easiest during the cooler times of late spring and early summer but may have difficulty during the heat.

They may need to be hand pollinated if they fail to set fruit by themselves. 

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