Passiflora Incarnata - From Seeds To 'Passion Fruit' Harvest

From among the exotic fruits on the supermarket shelves there are those that can be grown in our climate. And without much trouble to get a harvest of delicious fruits. Of course, here it is important to understand that the technological cycle of cultivation will be somewhat different from the usual, and not all varieties are suitable. Today I will tell you about my experience of growing "passion fruit" - from seed to harvest. No, it's not exactly the passion fruit we serve, but it's a close relative. To be very precise, we will talk about growing Passiflora incarnata (Passiflora incarnata) or as it is also called, passiflora meat-red, passion flower meat-red, apricot liana, or maracoca.

Passiflora incarnata - from seeds to 'passion fruit' harvest
Passiflora incarnata-from seed to harvest of "passionflower"

Preparing seeds for germination

The first, The first thing to start with, of course, is to get seeds. Nowadays this is not a problem - there are even special groups in social networks, a kind of forum where connoisseurs and amateurs exchange their experiences and planting material.

Matured seeds of maracoca (let's call the culture that, for brevity) are black, covered with a grooved pattern "pucks" about 5 mm in diameter. They can be stored at room temperature and require no stratification for germination. You can start the germination process in February, so that you will probably get your first harvest of these delicious and aromatic fruits.

As I said, the seeds don't need to be stratified, but you should scarify them (to break the integrity of the outer shell). A fine sandpaper, either a nail file or a nail file will do the trick. Each seed should be lightly rubbed on a rough surface, so we damage the thin outer shell and allow the moisture to get to the seed itself faster. It is not necessary to rub the seeds too hard, just a little.

Such scarified seeds should be soaked in water for 2-3 days.

Passiflora incarnata - from seeds to 'passion fruit' harvest
Matured maracoca seeds are black, covered with a grooved pattern "pucks" about 5 mm in diameter. © Igor Bilevich

Seed germination

Seeds that have been soaked in moisture can already begin to germinate. And here attention! Sprout the maracoca seeds at a temperature no lower than +30 degrees. This is really important. I have wasted a lot of time and killed some seeds, trying to germinate them at the standard for our crops +24 ... +25 ° C. If you want to try maracoca fruits already this season, there's no time to waste.

What to germinate in? You can take a plastic container with a lid, fill it with peat or coconut substrate, sphagnum moss or even paper napkins, but be sure this substance must be constantly moist.

Where to get +30 degrees in February? Some hang the container on the back wall of an old model running refrigerator (it is warm), some place it at the right height over the radiator, some use the warm floors and cover the top. In general, a thermometer will help you to determine the right place.

A few days later, already nucleated seeds neatly planted in containers in a standard purchased soil mixture for seedlings. Gradually the seedlings develop. Not superfluous during this period (end of winter-the first half of spring) will be additional lighting. Already by May you will have grown quite large, from half a meter to a meter seedlings. When the threat of return frosts passes, after a preliminary hardening, of course, they can be planted in the open ground.

Read also our article Pavlovnia - growing from seeds.

Planning and care of Passiflora incarnata in the open field

The place for planting, given our not very long summer, you should choose as sunny and, preferably, protected from the north side. That is, the south wall of the house or barn is ideal. The planting hole filled with a mixture of garden soil and compost. Watering regularly.

Be aware that the maracock is a liana and it needs space. For this purpose, I put a trellis 1,7 m high and stretched an ordinary plastic netting for cucumbers. Clinging by tendrils, the liana gradually rises up, and if you did not lose time in the spring, it already begins to bloom in June.

Flowers in passiflora are something incredible, and the maracock is no exception. You can probably describe them using botanical terms, but it is better to see them once.

But it is not for the sake of beautiful flowers we grow them (although there are some), but for the sake of fruit. And here is where one important peculiarity comes into play. The flower must be pollinated by pollen from the flower of another plant in order to produce a crop. So it is necessary to have several lianas next to each other to obtain a guaranteed harvest.

Passiflora incarnata - from seeds to 'passion fruit' harvest
Flowers in passiflora are something incredible, and the maracock is no exception. © Igor Bilevich

Artificial pollination of maracoca flowers

Furthermore, the first flowers appear at random, and the flower lives only one day. So today it blossoms on one vine, tomorrow on another, the day after tomorrow on the third, but there are no ovaries, and the time goes on ... No problem, we can help the plant with this - let's engage in artificial pollination.

The moment when a flower blooms, say, on the liana number 1, carefully with tweezers or just fingers tear off the anthers with yellow pollen and put them in a jar with a lid, and the jar put in the refrigerator. Such pollen can retain its properties for a couple of weeks.

When the liana number 2 blooms, let's say, take the anther out of the fridge and smear the pistil of the flower. You can clearly see the yellow pollen particles on the pistil. That's it! In a couple of days you will notice that the fruit has set. I hope it is clear that such jars with pollen need to have several from different lianas? And in order not to confuse them, they and the vines should be numbered.

Such a hassle for maracock is needed only with the first flowers, then begins mass flowering, bees and other insects enter into the process of pollination. It's important to know that it takes 60 days from pollination to ripen the fruit. So calculate: in my region (south) it is desirable to finish pollination until about the beginning of August.

Passiflora incarnata - from seeds to 'passion fruit' harvest
Fruit ripening in Passiflora incarnata (Passiflora incarnata) requires 60 days from the moment of pollination. © Igor Bilevich

Fruit ripening

An interesting feature of maracock - its fruits very quickly, in a few days, gain their full size, but ripen and gain weight long, as I said, 60 days. The size of the fruit I had was about 7 cm long and 5-6 cm in diameter, weighing up to 60 grams. The result is not outstanding, but still.

How can you tell if the fruit is ripe or not? Fully ripe fruit itself falls to the ground and emits an incomparable aroma. So, you can't go wrong.

Luckily for us who don't live in the tropics, the maracoca fruit can quite successfully be ripened. If you expect a cold snap (by the way, the ovary can withstand a decrease to -5 degrees), the fruit from the vines can be removed and put in a cardboard box, and put there a few apples or bananas. After 10-20 days, the smell of tropical fruits will notify you that the ripening has occurred. Yes, the taste will be more sour than naturally ripe, but in the second half of the fall and this can be happy.

Passiflora incarnata - from seeds to 'passion fruit' harvest
Fruit size of my maracoca was about 7 cm in length and 5-6 cm in diameter, weight up to 60 grams. © Igor Bilevich

Wintering Passiflora incarnata

Now about wintering. There are several options, for different regions. Say, in the south the liana is cut, leaving about 1 meter above the ground, wrap it in a ring and cover with agrofoil and soil. So it safely overwinters and begins its growth in the spring. In more northern regions the liana is also cut, but completely dug out of the ground, placed in a suitable container (container, bucket of 10 liters) and brought into the basement.

In low but positive temperature (+5 ... +8 ° C) Passiflora incarnata spends the winter, gaining strength, and spring (after the soil warms up and the threat of frost) planted in the open field. To obtain a larger and earlier harvest, the container with the plant can already be brought into the house in March.

To avoid going through the whole long process of germinating seeds, you can try to propagate Passiflora meat-red, pieces of rhizome or summer cuttings.

Passiflora incarnata - from seeds to 'passion fruit' harvest
If you are not collecting seeds to grow, the fruit of Passiflora incarnata can eat along with them. © Igor Bilevich

Use of the fruit

Well, and a little about the fruit itself. It is such a large berry of green color, at ripening - a little yellowish. Inside, under the thin skin, there are many arylus - seeds surrounded by a jelly-like, sweet-sour and very fragrant flesh. In the case of maracock, it is quite difficult to separate the pulp from the seeds. So if you don't harvest the seeds to grow, you can eat them together, or you can whip them in a blender, turning everything into a smooth mass. This is a great filler for yogurts, ice cream, cottage cheese. From the pulp can be cooked jelly and jam.

By the way, it is Pasiflora meat-red, grown and cultivated as a medicinal plant. All of its parts have calming properties, and, if you believe the manufacturer, it is one of the components of the famous drug "Novo-Passit".

Read also our article How I grow magnolias from seeds.

Dear readers! It is believed that Passiflora incarnata inferior to its relatives in quantity and quality of this most delicious jelly-like pulp. But due to its unpretentiousness, it is quite possible to start your acquaintance with exotic plants with it, and then already try other species - Passiflora edible, grenadilla, etc.

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