Planting passion flower seeds

Grow it yourself: Passion Fruit

The ‘passion’ in passion fruit actually refers to suffering – as in ‘the passion of Christ’. But we would only suffer if we couldn’t get hold of one – delicious eaten fresh with a spoon on a hot summer’s day, or added to a zingy caipirinha instead of lime. Give us a passion fruit at any moment. We multi like!

Marco Barneveld, www.braindrain.nu

When I was a boy, around that age that girls suddenly started to be interesting, there was this urban legend going around that if you fed a girl with passion fruit she would become overwhelmed with desire and start doing things with you that good girls normally don’t do. We all believed it. Why else would it be called passion fruit? Well, I tried it and it didn’t work. Later on in life I figured out that the best form of seduction is genuine attention. But that, of course, is a completely different story.

Later still, I discovered that the passion in passion fruit actually stands for the passion of Christ – where ‘passion’ means suffering rather than pleasure. But you don’t need to worry about suffering when you eat them. Stop taking things so literally. You see, the passion fruit originates from South America and when the Spanish missionaries first saw them, they thought their flowers portrayed ‘Christ’s passion on the cross’ because the flowers have ‘Three Nails, Five Wounds, a Crown of Thorns and the Apostles’. Well, in the eyes of a devout Christian missionary they might. The flowers are certainly very unusual. Anyway, the name stuck.

Calming passiflora

Passion fruit comes from a large family that includes several hundred species. Most of them are native to the tropics of South and Central America, Brazil, Mexico, and the West Indies, but there are also species that are native to Australia. The Spanish explorers loved the fruits that these vines produced, so they took them back to Europe and from there they spread around the world.

And while some things that taste good are pretty bad for you, like marshmallows or triple shots of vodka mixed with Coca Cola, these little babies are excellent for your health as well. Why? Well, passion fruit is high in vitamins A and C, as well as being rich in potassium, calcium, iron and other nutrients. But the plant is also popular for its medicinal value. The leaves of many species of passiflora, the plant that bears the passion fruit, have been used for centuries by the indigenous tribes of Latin America as a sedative or calming tonic. Brazilian tribes used the fruit as a heart tonic and medicine, and in a favourite drink called maracuja grande that is frequently used to treat asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis and other stubborn coughs.

Passion fruit still has an important place in South American traditional medicine. In Peruvian traditional medicine, the juice is used for urinary infections and as a mild diuretic. In Madeira, passion fruit juice is given as a digestive stimulant and to treat gastric cancer. And where we come from, you can by a tincture of passiflora which you use to keep calm before exams. Drinking the whole bottle would make you pretty groggy though. I tried this, of course, just to prove the medicinal benefits.

Grow it yourself

But since you are reading this, your green fingers might well be eager to try growing these for yourself. Well, why don’t you give it a go? Passion fruit vines are evergreen climbers that love to ramble over fences, sheds and outhouses, or up a veranda, pergola or screen.

They are self-clinging, due to their spidery tendrils. They prefer a north-facing position, and though they will grow in westerly or easterly position you may find them sneaking around to the north to find more sun.

They can grow 5 to 7 metres per year, once established, and they will need strong support. A plant will live five to seven years, and although they grow best in tropical climes, they will survive temperatures low as -6 degrees. They will also do well indoors, for all you indoor urban farmers out there.

Decent growth, plenty of fruit

To get decent growth and plenty of fruit, plant the vines in a sunny, frost-free spot and lavish them with TLC. Passion fruit vines develop extensive root systems to fuel all that growth and fruit production, so allow plenty of room for the roots to grow. Also, keep the surrounding area free of weeds and competing plants, including grass.

How to grow passion fruit

  • Plenty of room
  • Keep free of weeds and competing plants
  • Space to climb
  • Sunny and frost-free spot
  • Keep well drained
  • Prune back early spring
  • In spring and summer water once a week

Give the vine space to climb too. An ideal spot to grow a vine is along a wire fence, across a balcony, or over a pergola where they will provide year-round shade. If you want to grow a vine along a sunny wall or fence, install some wire, trellis or mesh for the tendrils to wind themselves around.

Passion fruit dislike having ‘wet feet’ and are prone to root rot in wet soils, so select a well-drained garden bed or slope. Add organic matter, such as composted manures to the soil before planting, as well as a little lime.

Fruit is produced from the current season’s growth so it is important to prune back after the last frost or in early spring. We advise pruning back by about a third. Remove weak growth and dieback. Thin out the vine every few years to increase ventilation. It’s easy to see why passion fruit are so hungry – they produce so many flowers and fruit!

Flowering and fruiting passion fruit

Feed the vines with a fruit tree fertiliser and a little extra potash. Side dressings are also beneficial. When choosing your fertiliser, keep in mind that fertiliser high in nitrogen will produce leaves at the expense of flowers and fruit. Water deeply once a week in the spring and summer and spread the fertiliser and mulch over the entire root system, not just around the base of the stem. Passion fruit thrive on any fertiliser designed to encourage flowering and fruiting. Apply fertiliser in spring and then every four weeks during the summer months. Always water well when applying fertiliser. It can take 12–18 months for a newly planted vine to reach fruiting size. We usually get one large crop during summer and autumn; gardeners in more tropical areas will get continual cropping. The fruits are ripe when the skin is wrinkled: pick the fruit before it drops.

Possible problems

Passion fruit are susceptible to root rot (Phytothera). The sign that this is occurring are large patches of straw-coloured foliage that look almost like they have been burned. Subsequently the whole vine will collapse. You can prevent this by planting on a well-drained site and watering monthly with Anti-rot phosacid. Sometimes aphids can spread a virus which causes mottled leaves. This is incurable so if it occurs, pull the vine out and start again.

Tips & Tricks:

  • If it rains during the flowering period, you might consider pollinating the flowers by hand to boost the yield of fruit.
  • Passion fruit vines live up to seven years, after which time they will need to be replaced.
  • Grow passion fruit on a trellis, fence or support that faces west or northwest for the best growth and productivity.
  • Suckering is common with black passion fruit. Be on the look-out for different shaped leaves which are a sign of suckers from the non-fruiting rootstock. Pull the suckers off as soon as you notice them.

Recipe for passion fruit cocktail

Passion fruit is easy to eat. Just cut them in half, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and enjoy. Or try this one out on one of those wonderful summer nights when the sweet smell of hay hangs in the air and you’re sitting outside on your porch with some friends.

Passion fruit caipirinha

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium passion fruit
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Crushed ice
  • 2 shots of cachaca
  • Sugar, for garnish

Directions:

Scoop out the flesh and seeds of the passion fruit and transfer these to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker along with sugar, and cachaca. Shake this with the ice and pour into a tumbler. Garnish the edges of the glass with sugar before you pour the drink into the glass. Enjoy with passion.

Top Tips for Growing Passionfruit

Take the worry out of growing this popular backyard crop with these tips. Remember passionfruit are subtropical plants so, although they’ll grow in most parts of Australia, in cooler areas they need a warm, sunny, sheltered spot with fertile soil and regular water to thrive. Plant a passionfruit vine between spring to early autumn and provide it with a wall or framework to climb on.

1. Age before beauty

Passionfruit vines don’t flower and fruit straightaway. In the subtropics they may begin fruiting in six to 12 months from planting, but in most parts of temperate Australia it takes 18 months before flowering begins and fruit forms.

2. Feed and water that growth

Keep these hungry vines weed free, well watered (especially when there’s little rain) and fed from spring to autumn. Use pelletised flower and fruit, a citrus food or a chicken poo fertiliser. Water plants well before adding fertiliser then spread it around the base of the stem and along the area where the roots are growing. After feeding in spring, spread organic mulch such as compost or aged cow manure 2 to 3 centimetres deep. Don’t let it build up against the stem and don’t dig it in as this may encourage suckering.

3. Avoid suckers

Many passionfruit are grafted plants. From time to time the understock (the root system your vine is grafted on to) starts to grow. It can out grow the productive vine and become weedy. Always remove suckers from below the graft area and avoid damaging the root system as this can encourage suckering.

4. Pruning

Passionfruit vines don’t need pruning to encourage fruiting, but they may need it to remove overgrown growth or keep the vine under control. The best time to prune is in spring as new growth resumes. Avoid removing main stems, just cut back unwanted twining stems.

5. Flowers but no fruit

If the vine is established and well cared for it should begin flowering in spring and continue into autumn. All being well these flowers are quickly followed by green fruit, which gradually ripens to black or purple in the case of ‘Nellie Kelly’ or golden brown or red in the case of other varieties such as ‘Panama Gold’. If there are flowers but no fruit, try hand pollinating the blooms using a small dry paintbrush or a cotton bud to transfer pollen from stamens to the stigma. Repeat this regularly until you see fruit forming. You can also try planting flowering annuals or herbs around the area to entice pollinators into your garden.

Rain, overcast conditions, cold and wind can all delay fruit formation. Over fertilising with a high nitrogen fertiliser can cause flowers to drop and prevent fruit from forming.

6. No flowers

If you’ve planted the vine in the correct position and you’re still not getting flowers once established it’s likely not getting the nutrients it needs. Try feeding in September after pruning and again in autumn with a liquid plant food such as Amgrow Organix Harvest or Yates Thrive Concentrate Flower and Fruit.

7. Cross-pollination

Some passionfruit varieties require another vine to provide cross-pollination and produce fruit however the commonly grown ‘Nellie Kelly’ and ‘Panama Gold Select’ are self-fertile.

8. Pests

Passionfruit vine hopper, also known as fluffy bum due to the appearance of its young, can attack vines and may lead to fruit or flower drop. These can be squashed or hosed off. Juvenile fluffy bums can be treated with a garden spray such as a pyrethrum-based insecticide (apply according to label instructions). Vines may also be attacked by scale. Use a horticultural spray oil to deal with scale.

9. Is it ripe?

Fruit colour at ripening can be variable and some ripe fruit may not be highly coloured. If green fruit drops to the ground it is always worth tasting it to see if it is ripe. Fruit that’s fallen but has no pulp has not being properly fertilised. Ripe fruit left on the ground may get sun burnt so regularly collect fruit. Also keep the ground around your passionfruit clear of weeds or long grass so it’s easier to find fallen fruit.

Check out our passionfruit factsheet here.

Passion Flower Propagation – How To Root Passion Vine Cuttings And Grow Passion Flower Seeds

Passion flower (Passiflora spp.) is a striking tropical-like vine that is easy to grow. This popular houseplant or garden vine is also easy to propagate. Passion flower propagation can be achieved through seeds or stem cuttings in spring, or by layering in late summer.

Propagating Passion Flower Seeds

Passion flower seeds are best germinated while fresh, or straight from the fruit. They do not store well and will usually go dormant for up to a year. To break dormancy and improve germination for seeds that have been stored a while, you can simply take a piece of fine sandpaper and lightly rub one or both sides of the seeds. Then soak the seeds in lukewarm water for about 24 hours. Throw out any seeds that are floating, as they are no good.

Press the remaining seeds about ¼ inch (0.5 cm.) into moist potting mix or peat compost—whatever you use should drain well. Cover with ventilated plastic

to maintain humidity and remove once germination begins within two to four weeks. (Note: Older seeds can take anywhere from four to eight weeks or even longer to germinate.)

Keep seedlings out of direct sunlight until they develop their second set of leaves. Don’t expect instant blooms with seed-grown plants. Some passion flower species can take up to ten years to bloom.

How to Root Passion Flower Cuttings

Stem cuttings are normally taken during the softwood stage, when they can break off easily when bent. Use a sharp pair of pruners and clip off about 4- to 6-inch (10-15 cm.) cuttings just below the node. Strip off the bottom-most leaves and tendrils and then dip the ends in rooting hormone. Stick the cuttings about half an inch (1 cm.) into well-draining potting mix or an equal mix of sand and peat. Lightly water and then cover with a clear, ventilated plastic bag. Include stick supports if necessary.

Place the cuttings in a shady location, keeping them warm and moist. You should notice new growth within a month, at which time you can gently tug on the cuttings to test their root establishment. Once significant rooting has occurred, they can be transplanted to their permanent locations.

How to Propagate Passion Flowers by Layering

You can also propagate passion flowers by layering. This technique is usually performed in late summer by stripping the leaves from a small section of the stem and then bending it over, partially burying it in the soil. Anchoring it in place with a small stone may be necessary.

Water well and, within a month or so, it should begin rooting. However, for better results, you should keep the piece in place throughout fall and winter, removing it from the mother plant in spring.

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The passionfruit vine can be propagated from cuttings but is best grown from seed. It should be planted in full sun (at least six hours a day) in a spot with no trees or competitive roots.

Provide a strong structure for the vine to climb on and prepare light, fine, deep, well-dug soil with organic matter. Add straw to retain warmth and scatter a metre of chook manure pellets around the hole. Water well and repeat this again a few months later.

Passionfruit vines are heavy feeders and need plenty of water and well-drained soil. Add mulch around the root system, to reduce evaporation and protect it from the hot sun.

Leave the vine to climb in its first year, then pinch out the top bud to encourage lots of side shoots.

The passionfruit vine grows up to 10 metres a year.

You can expect fruit about 18 months after planting.

Passionfruit have a high water requirement when fruits are approaching maturity – if the soil is dry, fruits may shrivel and fall prematurely, so water frequently for short periods during dry times. Pick the fruit when the skins start to wrinkle.

After the second year, prune lateral branches once a year in late winter.

Note that a fertiliser high in nitrogen promotes plenty of leaf growth at the expense of fruit and flowers. Therefore, well rotted cow manure and compost are better choices.

Also note that the growth should be from the graft section of the vine, rather than the rootstock, as this won’t produce fruit.

TIP Put used teabags at the base of established vines, leaving them to seep into the soil as fertiliser.


Passion Flower Seeds – Passiflora Caerulea Flower Seed

Flower Specifications

Season: Perennial

USDA Zones: 8 – 10

Height: 96 – 180 inches (vining)

Bloom Season: Summer and fall

Bloom Color: White with blue

Environment: Full sun

Soil Type: Moist, well-drained, pH 6.1 – 7.5

Planting Directions

Temperature: 75F

Average Germ Time: 28 – 90 days

Light Required: No

Depth: 1/4 inch

Sowing Rate: 1 seed per plant

Moisture: Keep seed moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 18 inches

Care & Maintenance: Passion Flower

Passion Flower (Passiflora Caerulea) – What an exotic, lovely plant for your garden! Grown from Passion Flower seeds, this vining perennial can grow to 180 inches or more, and it produces large, 4 inch pale blue blossoms. Passion Flower fruit are egg-shaped, orange and edible but not very noteworthy. Passion Flower Vine is native to Southern Brazil and Argentina, and is popular all the way to the southern United States. This variety can be grown further north with moderate success and is hardy down to 10 degrees F. If it dies back due to a severe freeze it has been known to grow back from its deep roots. Many gardeners will bring their blue Passion Flower Vine indoors each winter. Passion Flower is an evergreen in tropical or semi-tropical regions, but as the winters become cooler it will drop its leaves. You do need to prune new growth occasionally to promote flowering.

Gardeners grow Passion Flower from seed, but the flower seed can be slow to germinate. It actually has a chemical in the seed to keep germination slow. It is recommended to soak the flower seed 24 hours before planting, and sow the Passion Flower seeds 1/4 inch deep in good compost or potting soil. In place of soaking in water, you can soak them in pulpy passion fruit juice. The acid helps break down the seed shell and helps in germination. Keep soil damp, but not too wet. It is best to start Passion Flower seeds in containers. Once Passion Flower seedlings have 4 – 5 leaves, they can be hardened off and transplanted into the garden. Passion Flower plants need to be well watered through out the summer months, watering infrequently but deeply to encourage deep root growth. During the winter months keep the soil on the dry side so it will go semi-dormant. Must be planted in well-draining soil mix, equal parts gravel and soil.

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