Are you growing a passion fruit vine, but have little to no fruit developing on it? One issue may be that the passion flowers are not getting adequate pollination. If that is the case, don’t worry! It is an easy fix. To help your struggling passion fruit plant, you may need to step in and hand-pollinate the flowers to increase fruit production. Read along to learn how simple it is to hand pollinate passion fruit flowers, including step-by-step photos!
Before we go over how to hand-pollinate passion fruit, we should rule out other reasons that your vine may not be bearing fruit.
Possible Reasons Why Your Passion Fruit Vines Are Not Producing Fruit
First of all, are you sure that your vine is a fruiting variety? Because of the hundreds of stunning, exotic-looking passion flower types, only a handful of varieties produce edible fruit. The two most common are Passiflora edulis (purple or yellow passion fruit) and Passiflora incarnata – also known as “Maypops”. For reference, all of the photos in this post are of our “Frederick’s” Passiflora edulis purple passion fruit. See below to get an idea of what Maypop flowers look like!
So, you’re pretty certain you’re growing an edible variety of passion fruit? That is great news! Both P. Edulis and P. Incarnata are self-fertile. This means they do not need a partner plant to be pollinated and bear fruit – so it is totally fine if you only have one vine!
Keep in mind that passion fruit can take a couple of years to begin bearing fruit. Therefore, if your vine is still young, be patient with it! The time of year that passionfruit flower and develop fruit will vary based on unique climates and cultivars, but in our experience they flower most heavily in late summer and the fruit is ripe in fall to winter.
Stress or Health Issues
Passion fruit vines are relatively easy to grow and care for! As long as they’re provided the conditions and climate they prefer, they should be happy and healthy. Yet if your passion fruit plant is stressed, unhealthy, deprived of nutrients, or otherwise out of its comfort zone, it is not going to be ready and willing to hand over the goods. And by goods, I mean fruit.
For more information on how to grow and care for passion fruit, including both purple passion fruit and maypops, see this article all about it! Maybe you’ll glean some tips to improve your care routine and help your plant thrive.
Lack of Pollination
Even though passion fruit is self-fertile, the pollen is still required to be moved around the flower – transferred from the anther to the stigma. Because passion fruit pollen is rather thick and sticky, wind doesn’t always do the trick. Instead, carpenter bees and honey bees are the primary pollinators for passion fruit. This means you need bees in your yard! For ideas on how to attract more bees to your garden, check out our list of the Top 23 Plants to Attract Pollinators!
Without adequate bee activity, you may find the need to hand-pollinate the flowers… and so here we are.
HOW TO HAND POLLINATE PASSION FRUIT FLOWERS
Here is your quick passion flower anatomy lesson: the anthers produce pollen. The stigmas want some of that pollen. If this transaction occurs, the passion fruit will develop and grow for you to enjoy! If you look closely at the image below, you can actually see the pre-pubescent passionfruit nestled in the middle of the flower – the ovary, like a tiny green egg.
To hand-pollinate passion fruit flowers, the goal is to collect and transfer pollen from the anther to the stigma.
To do so, you have a couple of options:
Option One: If you’re feeling extra fancy and not up for mutilating plant parts, use a dainty paint brush to collect the pollen from the anther and spread it on the stigmas. There are suggestions out there to do the same using a Q-tip, though I find the cottony texture sticks and holds on to more of the pollen than it actually deposits onto the stigma
Option two requires no tools. Simply pluck off one of the anthers – or as I like to call them – “pollen pads”. Then rub it on all of the stigma bits to deposit pollen. Depending on how much pollen the anther pad has to offer, you should be able to “do” all three stigma bulbs on that flower – and likely have leftovers to spread to other passion flowers as well!
Repeat as needed. During peak flowering season, new flowers will be opening and closing every day!
Notes on Blooms:
- When a flower first opens, sometimes the pollen isn’t very loose and ready on the anther. If you find that to be true, try again later if possible. Some flowers only stay open for one full day, but many of ours bloom for several days. I have found that the pollen is usually most thick and free for transferring when the bloom has been open a while, and is on the decline but not yet closed.
- A passion flower that hasn’t yet bloomed will be either a tightly closed green bud, or a slightly open bud – with fresh white or purple frills sticking out.
- A “spent” or already-bloomed flower will close back up, but will look more faded, old, and even slightly brown in areas. Some spent flowers will naturally fall off the vine, but the ones that will produce fruit stay attached.
- If the pollination was successful, a small passionfruit will begin to develop inside the closed bloom, eventually peeking its way out as it becomes larger and larger!
And that is how you hand-pollinate passion fruit flowers!
What do you think? Does your vine need some help? Are you ready to go diddle your blooms? Well, now you know how!
While the process of hand-pollinating is simple and straightforward, I will admit that it can be tedious. The better long-term solution is to attract and foster a healthy bee population in your yard! Years ago, I hand-pollinated some of our passion flowers as an experiment, but with the gobs of bees buzzing around our garden, I have not found it necessary. Either way, I hope you are blessed with a bountiful harvest of homegrown passion fruit soon!