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Passiflora Is An Exotic Liana 'Not For Everyone

, Admin

The passion flower passiflora always evokes vivid emotions. To some florists its strange inflorescences seem the most beautiful of all exotic pets, to others the mere sight of its intricate "order" flowers causes irritation. Passiflora needs quite a bit of space, and attention, too. The uneasy nature of this long-known "exotics" scares many people away, although in practice the passiflora usually still pleasantly surprises. It is a plant for fans of unusual indoor lianas, who can not take their eyes off its amazing blooms.

Passiflora is an exotic liana 'not for everyone
Passiflora blue (Passiflora caerulea)

Passiflora and its appearance "not for everyone"

Famous in our country, and throughout the world, as passionflowers or flowers of passion, passiflora have become famous as one of the most original lianas. We grow passiflora mainly as a caddy garden plant, which is brought indoors for the winter. And in countries with milder climates it more often appears in lists of the best garden lianas rather than indoor crops.

But the beauty of passiflora flowers attracts many so much that the charming liana decides to move into interiors as well. In many catalogs and florists it is even advertised as the best exotic for home conditions, though the passiflora is very far from this status in terms of capriciousness.

Even the species name of the passiflora vividly demonstrates its special status. True, it did not get it at all because of its appearance and not at all because of its passions. The name was given to it by the first missionaries, who considered the flowers of the plant a beautiful symbol of the suffering of Christ.

Passiflora causes a lot of emotions and contradictory reactions. But those who love the liana call it incomparable. Popular nicknames for passiflora include both the name of grenadilla and cavalry star.

In nature, passiflora is fairly widely represented everywhere except in Europe and Africa. The greatest diversity can boast these lianas in South America.

Passiflora botanical description

Passiflora are powerful evergreen woody climbing lianas, whose shoots, depending on species and pruning can be limited to a modest 50 cm or stretch up to 3 m. In the nature the plants are much bigger, up to 50 m high, but in the room culture they still demonstrate their massiveness and power, although much more modest in size.

Passiflora is characterized by thin and uniform foliage even in the lower part of shoots. The three- or nine-lobed, heart-shaped leaves sit on thin petioles and create a sense of airy elegance even when formed into a compound trellis.

The beauty of the leaves is further emphasized by the glossy sheen of the surface and the rich, dark, grayish shade of green traditional for passiflora. The plant partially sheds its leaves during the winter, but it recovers perfectly in the spring.

The large flowers of the passiflora are not accidentally considered legendary. Vivid not so much in color as in shape, they truly deserve the title of flowers of passion. The pointed petals, which make the flowers look like stars, look very impressive, but their true beauty can only be seen up close.

The contrasting staminodes, which form in the corolla a flat, fused perianth circle, give the plant a filigree beauty. The enormous disco-shaped perianth with narrow lanceolate lobes, like a saucer, enhances the beauty of the long pedicel, five star-shaped stamens, three sideways diverging stigmas and a crown of long, modified staminodes.

The contrasting coloration of the perianth and crown emphasizes the complex details of the structure and makes the flowers of Passiflora similar to orders and those very cavalry stars, making Passiflora one of the most easily recognized plants. The symmetry, abundance of details, and perfection of the structure of the passiflora flowers cannot be confused with any other indoor plant.

After flowering, the original oval-shaped fruits of passiflora are set, resembling pomegranates by their internal structure, which was the source of another nickname - grenadilla. The fruit is edible and in Latin America it is used for desserts and drinks and is considered a valuable fruit. In appearance, they resemble feijoa and passion fruit.

The flowering period of passiflora traditionally coincides with the time of being outdoors - from June to September. Each flower opens for only one day, but they bloom relentlessly.

The color palette of the passiflora is interesting, but not that varied. White, blue, red and purple are all color options. The colors are not presented in their pure form, but in unusual cold shades and mottled variations.

Views of room passiflora

The most common species of passiflora, which mainly and grow in room culture, is passiflora blue (Passiflora caerulea) - a typical for the genus liana, which differs from its fellows more robust shoots and powerful growth. Up to 2m long, it looks elegant and well-supported, thanks to its heart-shaped leaves with long petioles, divided into 3 or 9 lobes. White, blue, and purple flowers shine like stars against the dark, glossy leaves.

Three other greenhouse and indoor passiflora species also deserve attention:

  • Passiflora lemon (Passiflora citrina) is a flexible, somewhat messy looking liana with compound leaves and small, yellow flowers.
  • Passiflora vitifolia (Passiflora vitifolia) is a plant easily recognized by its large vine-like leaves.
  • Passiflora amethystina (Passiflora amethystina, formerly known as Passiflora purple (Passiflora violacea) is a very elegant variety with bright three-lobed leaves and pink-purple with fuchsia hue delicate flowers.

Most of the passiflora on sale are hybrid varieties of Passiflora blue. They differ only in the color of the flowers and the size of the leaves, most often remaining nameless. One can find quite a few original plants with exotic, mottled, contrasting color variations that turn the flowers into works of art.

Passiflora is an exotic liana 'not for everyone
Passiflora lemon (Passiflora citrina). © Quentin
Passiflora is an exotic liana 'not for everyone
Passiflora vinifolia (Passiflora vitifolia). © Julien Falissard
Passiflora is an exotic liana 'not for everyone
Passiflora amethystina. © Scamperdale

Conditions for growing room passiflora

In rooms, finding a really comfortable place for passiflora is not easy. This plant belongs to the extremely light-loving and in living rooms can settle only on windowsills. And the requirements for a cool overwintering do not simplify the selection of a place for it. Before starting a room passiflora, it is worth evaluating the conditions that can be given to it.

Passiflora are easily formed, although not the most flexible lianas. They cannot be grown in bush form, with overhanging spreading shoots, in pots on tall stands. But you can use it for walls or trellises, form it on poles. Passiflora is especially good on arches and round supports, but it also looks good on other kinds of bases and frames.

Lighting and placement

For passiflora you should choose really bright places. It is not afraid of direct sun. In summer the midday rays can be too scalding even for its leathery leaves, but normally in southern locations the plant feels well. Even the slightest shading leads to stretching of the plant, shrunken leaves, lengthening of internodes and corresponding worsening of flowering. Good light all year round, even in overwintering, irrespective of whether passiflora is cultivated as a houseplant and a garden plant or only as a houseplant. On southern balconies (but not on southern windows), it will need a scattering screen only in summer. Because of its sensitivity to purely natural light, it is impossible to grow this liana in the interior and not on a windowsill. Passiflora is suitable for winter gardens.

Temperature regime and ventilation

From spring to fall, passiflora requires a warm, comfortable place with temperatures higher than +21 ° C. If the temperature drops, and if the light fluctuates too, the plant may stop blooming. It is a demanding plant for a stable environment and does well in living rooms or on warm days.

If passiflora combines a garden and room culture, its dependence on the weather is more pronounced. On cloudy days the liana does not open its flowers and shows its "discontent" by all its appearance.

The key to the beautiful flowering of the passiflora and the main condition for success in growing this liana is, of course, a cool overwintering. Unlike some competitors, passiflora will not be content with a slight drop in air temperature: it needs a really contrastingly cold winter with a temperature drop of at least 10 degrees. A temperature of 6 to 8 degrees centigrade is considered optimal for Passiflora, the maximum winter values are better limited to 12 degrees.

Fresh air access, quality, regular airing of rooms are important for this liana no less than optimal temperature values. Passiflora cannot withstand stagnant air, even in winter, when kept in the cold.

Passiflora does well in the fresh air. It can be moved to the garden or at least to a balcony for the summer. However, it needs to be protected from draughts in the rooms, especially during the cool wintering period.

Home care of passiflora

Passiflora is not a plant for beginners. It requires careful and abundant watering, proper correction of care for the dormancy period, frequent feeding and annual pruning. The liana needs to be constantly monitored, which does not make it easy to grow. On the quality and thoroughness of care depends directly on both endurance and resistance to pests and diseases.

Pouring and humidity

Passiflora is one of the most moisture-loving indoor lianas. But the requirement for plentiful, frequent watering does not mean that one can be careless about the degree to which the substrate dries out. Dampness is detrimental to passiflora to the same extent as for any indoor plant. Average frequency of watering in the period of active growth - once every 2 days. But during the resting period only very light moisture in the soil is maintained, do not water abundantly, with a frequency of 1 time in 8-10 days. Watering is gradually reduced, transferring the passiflora to an almost dry regime after taking it out into the cold. During the winter passiflora is watered only to support the viability of the plant - with a minimum amount of water and very rarely. But resume watering only when the plant is moved to warmth, trying to spend frequent watering, but with a small amount of water, maintaining a light moisture substrate until the rapid growth.

High air humidity for passiflora is preferable, and when growing only in rooms - obligatory. Even in winter the plant should be sprayed more often, especially when the central heaters are running. Evening spraying allows you to maintain the beauty of the leaves. Passiflora does not need moistening devices.

For passiflora use only warm water for spraying and water of the same temperature as the air in the room or warmer by a few degrees - for watering. Water should not be hard.

Please also read this. Autumn care of grapes

Passiflora is an exotic liana 'not for everyone
Passiflora is one of the most humid lianas. Feeding is very important for an actively growing and big plant, especially during flowering. It is better to feed passion flower by the same scheme as for garden potted or tubby plants - once a week with twice less fertilizer. When growing without period in the fresh air during active growth foliar feeding with frequency of 1 time in 5-6 weeks is included. When combining different types of fertilizers, the frequency of procedures is increased to once every 10 days. Long-acting fertilizers should not be used on this liana.

Passiflora pruning and shaping

From the second year after sowing or rooting cuttings passiflora need mandatory shaping. Traditionally on this liana, pruning is done after the end of the dormancy period, in early spring. This is one of the measures to encourage active growth in late February or early March and an important key to stimulating flowering.

As the liana blooms on young branches, the plant is pruned from the flowering shoots. Pruning on Passiflora is always done fairly briefly on the flowering shoots. Leave about two-thirds of their length, cutting off ¾ of all bare beneath and too long shoots. Pinch off the tops of young branches and be sure to remove dry, damaged, unproductive branches. After pruning, it is advisable to treat the cuts.

Gartering passiflora is also an obligatory measure. It is not only the fact that the plants need to be directed upwards for flowering, but also the flexible, curly shoots, which cannot be formed into a bushy form. Passiflora is grown on large, strong supports, formed into shapes, directed on trellises. Tie the shoots with soft twine, without strong constriction.

Transplanting, containers and substrate

Transplanting for this liana is carried out only when the root system has nowhere else to develop and the roots appear in the drainage holes. The less often it will be carried out, the better, because passiflora is not too fond of changing containers. Traditionally, the plant is transplanted before bringing it back into the warmth, in late February or early March. In years when transplanting is not carried out, replace 2-3 top centimeters of soil with fresh substrate.

The stability of containers is very important for passiflora. Large plants require the right choice of heavy, reliable, not prone to overturning cachepots. The liana is grown in large, spacious containers with a height greater than the width, but without increasing their diameter too much compared to previous containers: excessive space for root growth leads to poor vegetation and flowering.

Passiflores require unusual, dense, heavy earth mixes. Adult passiflores are often transplanted into simpler earth mixes and garden potted substrates containing clay, in which the plants exhibit more active growth and flowering in the garden. But even in room culture, light soil is not the best choice.

For passiflora you can use ready-made soil mixes for potted plants, begonias, citrus, or make up a soil mixture yourself based on sod soil. A slightly alkaline earth mixture is necessary for this liana.

When transplanting passiflora, a high layer of drainage must be laid on the bottom of the container. As the plant remains in the same container for a long time, adding charcoal to the soil avoids the risk of spreading rot and mildew.

When transplanting passiflora, care should be taken to check the condition of the roots around the perimeter of the undisturbed earth clump. The plant is transplanted trying to keep as much of the root ball intact as possible.

Passiflora is an exotic liana 'not for everyone
Passiflora houseplants, and garden ones, are propagated mainly vegetatively. © Graeme B.

Diseases, pests, and problems in cultivation

The susceptibility to pests and diseases in passiflora depends directly on growing and care conditions. If the plant suffers from temperature fluctuations, draughts, does not get the necessary respite during wintering, it is almost always infected with spider mite or felt mite. If the care of the plant meets the requirements, this liana is one of the most resistant.

Passiflora multiplication

Domestic, and garden passiflora propagate, mainly vegetatively. The simplest and most convenient way is a simple cuttings. For rooting, cut shoots with two or three leaf buds. Cut cuttings can be made both in spring and during the summer, but most often, twigs left after early spring pruning are used.

Green and half-timbered twigs are suitable for rooting. From strong shoots, cut small short cuttings with one bud and a leaf, about 6 cm long, or large long cuttings with three leaves. The lower cut should be 4-5 cm under the bud.

Rooting is carried out according to the standard technology - under a hood, in a light substrate or sand, immersing the lower cut at a 1-2 cm at a slight angle and maintaining the air temperature within 21-26 degrees. On average, the rooting of passiflora shoots lasts about 1 month. You can disseminate cuttings after a couple of new leaves appear on them.

You can also get passiflores in other ways. It is difficult to grow plants from seeds. They require scarification and a two-day soaking. They are pressed into the substrate at 0.5 cm without covering with soil. They will not germinate without very good diffused light, an air temperature of about 25 degrees and close to 100% humidity. Sometimes cultivar passiflores are propagated by grafting.