Monsoon season means that new vines of passion fruit creep up all across and around the Nilgiris. While the supple fruit can cost in the hundreds if bought from a store, its abundance in the south means that every household there enjoys its goodness in the form of juices, squashes, salad garnish and more.
“Last season, I harvested about 1,000 pieces off my plant,” shares Meenakshi Arun, who has an expansive 19-year-old garden in her home in Bengaluru.
Upon hearing this, I wonder why more and more people aren’t growing granadilla, as passion fruit is also known, at home. But something Meenakshi adds to the conversations sheds light on a possible answer; “Many people grow the plant but complain that it never fruits. They don’t realise that while growing passion fruit, one must select the correct variety.”
The flowering variety, commonly known as krishna kamal in India, does not bear fruit. The fruiting plant is called Passiflora Edulis and comes in the purple-maroon, pale yellow and oblong green versions to choose from.
Talking with The Better India, Meenakshi Arun shares the step-by-step process of how one can grow granadilla at home to enjoy its pulpy benefits:
- Time Planning: According to her, the months of August to October are ideal for planting. Come spring, you begin to spot flowers, and fruiting happens from April till early September. “Patience is key. Fruiting takes a while, but when it does happen, the wait becomes worth it,” she shares elatedly.
- Space Planning: She suggests using open ground for growing the plant, but a large container or pot can also be used. “Be sure to choose an area facing the sun, so that the plant receives at least six to eight hours of direct light,” she says.If you are a terrace gardener with a small space, Meenakshi’s pro tip for you is that it can be planted in a corner and the tendrils can be allowed to creep up the railing as decoration.
- Seed Preparation: “All you need is a piece of the fruit from the market. Scoop the pulp out of it. Next, be sure to wash it well so that only the seeds are left behind,” she says.
- Planting: Place the seeds in a pot or container about three to four inches deep. Cover it with soil and moisten it with water.
- Site Preparation: Before transplanting, loosen the soil of the ground or container that you have chosen as the site. “I create a one-by-one size pit in the ground and fill half of it with leaf compost and half of it with cow manure and a handful of neem powder,” Meenakshi reveals.For a container, she suggests using the standard potting mix of soil, compost, coco peat and manure in a ratio of 1:1:1:1.
- Transplanting: “Within 10 days, the plant shall germinate easily,” she says. Once it starts getting what are called ‘true leaves’, separate a few healthy seedlings and transplant them on your site.
Meenakshi shares that the best part about growing passion fruit is that it’s low maintenance. Once transplanted, it requires next to no care apart from regular watering.
For nutrition, she usually follows a simple fertiliser routine. This includes replenishing a handful of compost once a month and adding liquid fertiliser when the flowering starts.
Pro Tip: When the vine is growing in full swing, pinch a few tendrils off so it gets more branches. The more the branches, the more the fruit. In the container, however, keep shaping the plant to remain within the space available.
Edited by Divya Sethu
Feature Image Source: Pixabay