Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Heaven Scent Passion Flowers

This is a large genus of dozens of species carrying some of the most beautiful flowers of the world. (These were named after Christ’s Passion as priests tried to associate the curiously formed floral parts with particular items from the crucifixion, erroneously as it transpired that the flowers were not as drawn and there was no divine message hidden within.) Now many people cultivate these for their flowers which are magnificent though of course they are equally famous for their fruits. If you have never tried a passion fruit the supermarket ones, P. edulis, are delicious, much like a tangy orange though the numerous seeds are a drawback. Less commonly seen are the banana shaped and giant passion fruits, and many others are edible though not all are as palatable, only a few rarer ones are inedible. The only hardy member is P. caerula which you may well know as the blue flowered climber followed by orange fruits. (These have an edible pulp scantily

covering the seeds but it is not very palatable.) P. incarnata from North America is also nearly hardy but most of the others are tender though not requiring great heat. Just like citrus they need to be frost free or warm through winter, indeed as with citrus they can go outdoors for the summer. Passion fruits can be easily grown in large tubs which makes moving them easy and they can be trained round a central cane or three up to say six feet though they can climb far higher. Not bothered by many pests or diseases the main cause of loss is root rot if cold during winter. Not fussy as to compost they thrive in any reasonable mixture and although they are demanding of regular watering they are not particularly difficult. Indeed most of them can be grown from seed to flower in their second year. The supermarket variety can even flower and fruit the first year though it is better to make them wait till the second in order to get a stronger plant and

heavier crop. Although theoretically they can be self fertile, in practice it helps to have several as they are much more fruitful if cross pollinated with another plant, even from the same species. Be warned though- some can be quite vigorous; P. herbertiana turned out an Australian thug which threatened to take over my greenhouse until I machete’d it.

CB65 Passion flowers are easy to grow and flower

H29 Passion flowers can flower and fruit their first year

H31 Passion fruits are best when well ripened and starting to shrivel

T50 This good looking Australian thug is P. herbertiana