De­li­cious pas­sion­fruit easy to grow

A lit­tle care in cold cli­mates will pro­duce good crop

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

Pas­sion­fruit are warm­cli­mate plants but with some care they will grow well in cooler ar­eas too. Grow them against a sunny brick wall or in­doors in a con­ser­va­tory if the tem­per­a­tures con­stantly dip be­low mi­nus 2°C in your area. In cooler coun­tries they are of­ten grown in­doors. Now that the soil has warmed up, it’s the ideal time to plant pas­sion­fruit. Choose a warm, sunny spot that’s well shel­tered from winds. Plant against a wall or fence for sup­port, or erect a trel­lis or climb­ing frame. Plant in free-drain­ing soil that’s had plenty of com­post and some slowre­lease fer­tiliser dug in. If plant­ing in con­tain­ers, use a good qual­ity pot­ting mix that al­ready has slow-re­lease fer­tiliser in­cor­po­rated. Pas­sion­fruit plants are self-fer­tile so you only need one vine. Though vines planted this year may not fruit for the next year or so. Pas­sion­fruit have a shal­low and ex­ten­sive root sys­tem, so they need con­stant mois­ture. Wa­ter reg­u­larly while plants are be­com­ing es­tab­lished and es­pe­cially dur­ing dry pe­ri­ods. They must be wa­tered well dur­ing flow­er­ing and fruit­ing, or the fruit may shrivel and drop. Use a mulch around the base of the plant to help re­tain mois­ture but keep it away from the stem or rot may set in. Pas­sion­fruit are vig­or­ous plants, so feed reg­u­larly from spring through au­tumn with a cit­rus fer­tiliser. A liq­uid fer­tiliser may also be ben­e­fi­cial, es­pe­cially when grow­ing in con­tain­ers but use one that’s es­pe­cially made for flow­ers and fruit. If you want to train your plant, do so in its ini­tial years by se­lect­ing vig­or­ous shoots to es­tab­lish a frame­work. Th­ese can be trained up a trel­lis or fence, then hor­i­zon­tally along wires like an es­palier. Fruit­ing stems grow off th­ese hor­i­zon­tal lat­er­als. As fruit is formed on the cur­rent sea­son’s wood, an an­nual prune is ben­e­fi­cial. Prun­ing is done each year around late Septem­ber or early Oc­to­ber, when the plants be­gin to grow vig­or­ously. Cut the fruit­ing stems back to two buds, or about 10-15 cm. Re­move any dy­ing stems too as pas­sion­vine hop­pers of­ten lay their eggs here. You can eas­ily spot the eggs – they’re only 1mm long but they’re in­serted in plant stems in long rows. Fruit takes be­tween two and three months to ripen. In warm ar­eas the fruit will ap­pear in late spring through to late sum­mer and pos­si­bly through au­tumn. Cooler ar­eas will see fruit in late sum­mer. Ripe fruit falls to the ground but you can pick it ear­lier – when you see it change colour and shrivel slightly. Pas­sion­fruit con­tin­ues to ripen off the vine, so don’t worry about pick­ing them too early. Sit them in room tem­per­a­ture to ripen to a nice sweet flavour.

Stun­ning: Pas­sion­fruit can grow in cooler cli­mates with a bit of care.

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