Passionate pursuit: Who says tropical fruit can’t grow in Idaho?

Would you believe it? This is an Idaho-grown passion fruit. It was delicious.

I love fresh passion fruit, but I’ve never found it outside Hawaii. I wanted to see if I could grow some, so 2½ years ago I ordered two vines off Etsy.

For the past couple of years, these two vines — two because you need two individuals to pollinate for fruit — have been growing in a huge pot that is outside in the summer and inside in the winter. Moving it is a big task, and because the vines hadn’t flowered or fruited, despite growing like crazy, this past fall I was thinking I’d have to call the experiment a flop.

But then these flowers showed up, all strange and beautiful. And a complete surprise, even though this is what I had once expected to see. I got a paintbrush to help with pollinating — I’d read this was how to ensure pollination, but it still felt like an awkward invasion of privacy. And then, a second surprise, these fruits started to grow — just two. My pollinating technique probably needs help, and also I’m terrible about consistent indoor watering.

I didn’t know when my passion fruit would ripen, just that they shrivel and fall to the ground when they’re ready. I was sweeping one day when I noticed a small white chunk on the floor — it was passion fruit rind! One had fallen to the floor while I wasn’t paying attention, and my rabbit ate it, with this piece as the only evidence. I made sure the other one ripened on the counter.

Once it was sufficiently shriveled, I scooped out the seedy pulp and added it to Greek yogurt and granola, one of my favorite ways to enjoy it. It was so good.

This single fruit took 2½ years to produce and probably cost around $100 in vines, potting soil, a pot, fertilizer and water. So it was pretty expensive for a few spoonfuls of fruit. But considering that Idaho passion fruit is a rare delicacy, it was worth it. Now I need to build a greenhouse so I can grow more.


Schmidt (she/her) is studying natural resources at the University of Idaho. When she’s not playing with plants, she’s posting pictures of mushrooms, making messes in the kitchen with her family or chasing her food-stealing rabbit around the garden.