On our road to self-sufficiency we acquired a few tropical fruit plants at the 2007 rare plant sale in Palmetto (see Manatee Rare Fruit Council for the news concerning their annual sale). Among them was a passion fruit vine – a fruit I had come to adore after a visit to Hawaii many years ago, but which is not easily obtained here in Florida. Of our fruiting trees and plants in the garden, the Passiflora edulis is my favorite. It took all of 2008 to root, so we did not see any fruit, and only a few paltry flowers last year. However, this year, the vine has truly taken off. It has climbed the full height of the fence (6’) and started trailing linearly along it. Our neighbor is also excited about the prospects of getting fruit from his side.
It truly is the most exotic of the plants we have planted in our landscape; the flower itself is a marvel of natural beauty: delicate, colorful, multi-textured – a delicious treat of eye-candy. We currently have three fruit ripening and expect to have many more this year.
Growing up, it was a treat to have POG, in season. My mother would get it at the local grocer in cartons – never in large quantities and never on sale, it was always a treat. I grew up thinking it came from a pog tree – silly me. It was not until 1988 that I had my first taste of freshly prepared passion fruit juice while staying at the H. Monango Hotel in Captain Cook. That I would wait 20 years to experience that again is sort-of sad, really.
The almost hard-frosts of this winter had us worried that the passion fruit vine would suffer badly; however, it was hardly affected by the cold weather at all – unlike our tomatoes which took a beating. The recent drought did not affect its growth, either. We had installed a micro-irrigation head at the foot of the vine, delivering 1 gal/day to the plant when we first put it in the ground. However, our Cairn terrier had taken a liking to the black plastic uprights of the micro-sprinklers, and before long, the plant was on its own. Our area of Florida has not received its usual share of rain. Despite this neglect it has rooted and thrived. We hope it will continue to grow along the fence as a trellised vine, getting itself well established by the time the new live oak starts to mature and leave the vine in partial shade.
Since the passion fruit vine is doing so well, I am wondering if I can grow purple mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) here, and if there are dwarf varieties. I can buy the fruit at the local Publix when its in season, but they ship it in from SE Asia, and that makes for a pricey piece of fruit.