Passionfruit – hand pollination

To ensure that your passionfruit vine produces lots of delicious, juicy fruit, you may have to hand-pollinate the flowers. Passionfruit vines rely on bees for pollination because their flowers have a large gap between the 5 oval, pollen-bearing male parts (anthers) and the 3 V shaped, female parts (stigmas). There are generally less bees around recently, and they don’t like to venture out in wet or windy weather.
The oval anthers release their pollen early in the morning, but the best time to pollinate is mid morning when the stigmas at the top of each flower bend downwards and secrete a sticky fluid that helps the pollen to adhere to them. The photo below shows the ideal position of the stigmas for pollination.

Only when the female parts of each flower receive passionfruit pollen can the flower form a fruit.
If there aren’t many bees around your passionfruit vine, or if you have a young vine with few flowers, you can pollinate the flowers by hand. The best way to do it is with a soft watercolour paintbrush, and this short video demonstrates the practice beautifully: Hand-pollination of passionfruit
Another way to hand-pollinate is to remove an anther and brush it onto the stigmas. However, each flower needs at least a hundred ovules to develop into seeds for healthy fruit. Otherwise, the fruit will be hollow, or lightweight and not juicy, so the paintbrush ensures a good dusting of pollen where it is needed. Dust the pollen gently over the underside of all 3 stigmas of a different flower on the vine, then repeat with the next flower.**
Passionfruit take 2 – 3 months to develop and ripen – the very popular ‘Nellie Kelly’ slightly longer. Passionfruit, like good wine and cheese, taste best when they are mature. Fruit should have a deep colour and feel heavy. They are juiciest when they are slightly wrinkled.
** Some hybrids and cultivars need a second variety for good cropping. Check with your nursery before purchasing a vine.

15 thoughts on “Passionfruit – hand pollination

  1. I live in Melbourne, Australia and have a Ned Kelly plant which produces hundreds of flowers. I self pollinate where possible. The best results come from gently breaking open flowers that are about to do so naturally, and digging out the pollen with a soft thin paintbrush. The main issue I have is with ants that steal all the pollen. You have to beat them to it. I use the pollen from one flower to pollinate other flowers. Brush all three female parts. It works well for me.

    Thanks for that tip, Stuart.

  2. I have an edulis and a coccinea. Are these two compatible for cross pollination?

    Hi Marsha, I cannot find any specific information on which species Passiflora coccinea needs for good pollination. You could try tying some coloured cord loosely around the stem of a few coccinea flowers and hand-pollinate these flowers with pollen from the common passionfruit, then watch what happens to the tagged flowers.

  3. I live in Melbourne where it is still cold and wet with few insects around. I have a passionfruit with many flowers which I try to hand pollinate with a little brush at different times of the day, however, none of the stamen have yellow pollen on them. What can I do to improve this? Many thanks.

    Thea, if you look at Victor Lewis’ comment below, he has noticed that pollination release appears to be affected by warmth. It could be too cool where you are for the plant to release pollen. You may have to wait until the weather warms. – Lyn

  4. In your response of 6th February 19 you talk of pollinating within 4 to 6 hours of flower opening. Others have suggested 2 to 3 hours. I have been and am monitoring Nellie Kelly grafted purple and hand pollinating. Results: early to mid morning no pollen. Around 12 to 1 pm anthems beginning to roll open and some pollen. Mid to late afternoon anthems flat and plenty pollen. Confirmed by actual fruit production. Plants in Sydney. What do you think? Thanks
    Most interesting. It sounds as though the anthers respond to warmth rather than when the flower opens. This makes sense, as bees tend to stay indoors on cold mornings. Thank you for your research and sharing it with us. – Lyn

  5. hi, how many times do you have to do hand pollination for a passion fruit to fruit?

    If it’s the common purple passionfruit, you should only need to do it once, if you do it at the right time, which is in the morning within 4–6 hours of the flower opening. The answer to your question (and many others about passionfruit) can be found on this excellent website: Aussie passionfruit
    Pollination and Fruit Development
    Many factors contribute to the development of plump and luscious passionfruit. Here are some top tips for transforming passionfruit flowers into tasty fruit from Aussie Passionfruit grower Nick Hornery:

    • Fertilise your plant with seasol or granular fertilizer approximately every 6-8 weeks
    • Hand-pollinate your passionfruit to encourage the fruiting process. This can be done using a paintbrush by collecting pollen from the stamen of one flower and spreading it to the pistil of another flower on the vine
    • Plant fragrant flowers such as lavender near your vine to attract more bees to help pollination
    • Plant your vine in a sunny spot, and run the vine from north to south to ensure optimal sunlight
    • If you’re planting a purple variety, do so in spring so it has time to grow stronger before the winter chill sets in”

  6. Thank you for your reply Lyn, yes you are right I mean clipping off the anther and rubbing it onto the 3 stigmas, and will stick to the paintbrush as you suggested. I’m not sure if I can use the flower’s own pollen to pollinate or if I should be using that of another flower on the same vine or perhaps from a different plant. Very interesting article thank you kindly Angie 🙂
    Angie, I’d use pollen fruit different flowers or different plants.

  7. Hi, We live on the Gold Coast and have 3 types of passionfruit plants all growing next to each other in full sun; Pandora Red, Pink Cheek and Sweetheart .
    I pollinate them with a paint brush yet I don’t seem to be getting a lot of fruits. I am wondering if I should be clipping off the anther and rubbing it against the stamen instead. Should I be using the pollen from a different plant for each flower. Would really appreciate your thoughts. – Angie

    Angie, I think you are confusing the stamen with the stigma (female part), which is attached to the ovary. The stamen is a combination of the anther and filament (its support), and the anther is the part of the stamen that contains the pollen. I would continue using the paintbrush as there is an interesting article that states the amount of pollen deposited on the stigma determines the amount of seeds/juice and the size of the fruit. See: Passionfruit pollination.
    However, while passionfruit are technically self-fertile, many of them are self-incompatible, and transferring pollen from a different variety can increase the number and quality of the fruits produced. Without hand-pollination, passionfruit rely on larger insects, mostly bees, for pollination. It is wise to also grow plants that attract bees to your garden. – Lyn

  8. Hi, I have a Passiflora caerulea growing and want to also grow Passiflora ligularis for it’s fruit. Can I pollinate the ligularis with the caerulea pollen and get fruit? Thanks!
    I’m not sure you could, Ron. Although they belong to the same genus, they are entirely different plants. Sweet granadilla (P. ligularis) has heart shaped leaves, feathery flowers and pulp is similar to the common P. edulis. The Blue Passion Flower (P. cerulea) has palmate leaves, a typical passion flower and bright orange pulp. I understand that P. cerulea requires another P.caerulea growing close by for successful pollination, and the Royal Horticultural Society advises that eating under-ripe fruits (yellow) of P. caerulea can cause stomach upsets.
    As P. ligularis is supposed to have the best flavour and P. cerulea is said to have an insipid flavour would successful pollination of these two produce good fruit?
    The best time to hand pollinate is mid morning as passionfruit pollen tends to be sterile early and late in the day. – Lyn

  9. I’m pollinating Purple Passion Fruit, Granadilla. How long is collected pollen stored at room temperature viable? Is there and optimum time after opening to pollinate?

    Sorry, Jesse, I have no idea how long stored passionfruit pollen remains viable. I suggest you contact the Botanical Gardens in your state. – Lyn

  10. Hi, we are going to plant the Sunshine Special here Perth and I was wondering which bee attracting plants would be best to plant nearby to hopefully have the bees doing the pollination. I was thinking about lavenders but not sure about other plants that are hardy enough for our climate and not negatively impacting the passionfruit plant. Thanks Monika

    Hi Monika, there are many flowers in the vegetable patch that attract bees. For our bees, we grow French lavender (our summers are to hot for the English variety), which flowers from late autumn, right through winter to early spring. In spring they like rosemary, and borage in spring and autumn. In the warmer months, they like nasturtiums and really love sweet basil. You may get a few more suggestions from this site.

  11. I presume it is an Hawaiian variety but will check. Any tips as to how to identify ?
    It was given to me as a potted seedling 2 years ago and has performed brilliantly for 6 months on a north-facing wall. We live in coastal, south Queensland. Malcolm

    Hi Malcolm. This page might help you with identification. – Lyn

  12. Hi, I have a very good yellow fruited plant grown from seed – not grafted.
    I presently hand pollinate (and some blue-banded bees) and have loads of fruit.
    I am thinking of putting in a grafted “Nellie Kelly” variety nearby.
    Question is:- can I cross-pollinate between the two varieties ? Malcolm

    Hi Malcolm, depends whether the yellow one is a banana passionfruit or Hawaiian other type. Nellie Kelly also has a yellow variety, which one do you mean? You haven’t said which climate you live in so it is not possible to guess.

  13. Hi there. I’ve a year and a half year old vine that is growing so much. It has had dozens of flowers the last few months and many more coming. I’ve tried several times to pollinate the flowers, but still not a single fruit set. I have never fertilised it. It never looks water stressed, but maybe it needs more water? It is growing so much that I need to prune it a bit, but I am hesitant to loose the opportunity for fruit. Do I need another vine to cross pollinate? Did I make it angry? Has it got a mind of its own and wants to give me no fruit and instead invade my house and tear down the fence?
    Hi Emily, in which area do you live? Do you know whether you have a common black passionfruit, a banana variety or one of the Panama varieties? It is very difficult to help solve your problem without knowing what climate, soil types and plant variety you are dealing with. – Lyn 🙂

  14. Do I have to hand pollinate all the flowers on the passionfruit vine or just a few?

    Only pollinated flowers will produce a fruit, Maureen. If you see bees around your passionfruit vine (most commonly mid morning when it is not windy), they will probably do the job for you. – Lyn

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