For those stopping by to read about a tragic romance – my apologies. Here, I am placing my bets on some very fruitful passion next year!
Recently, I made a solemn promise to myself and everyone I know who cares (and some who don’t) about my garden, that I would not be buying any more plants this year. Technically speaking, I have kept my promise: the plants I bought today are not going to be delivered until next spring.
I have been fascinated with passionflowers for some time now – they are the epitome of exotic, tropical flora. I suspect the “passion” in the name had something to do with it too! I imagined these flowers to be capable of igniting passion, until research revealed the more somber origin of the name. Nevertheless, I had to have some passionflowers in the garden, preferably with fragrant flowers and delicious fruit.
Earlier this year, I started a few seeds of passionflower (exact species forgotten or never specified). I did all that the online forums recommended: soaking them for days in fermenting orange juice. The rationale behind this approach is that in nature, the acidic pulp surrounding the seeds helps to soften the outer seed coat and facilitate germination. People noted that seeds from fresh passionfruit germinate readily since some of the pulp clings to the seeds. I have never seen passionfruit being sold in the produce sections of the groceries I frequent, so I had to rely on mail order seeds. Anyway, none of the seeds germinated and my domestic popularity ratings took a serious beating thanks to the bowl of rotting and frothing orange juice.
With the active gardening months now done and all the bulbs in the ground, I was feeling a sense of vacuum. I found the online store Grassy Knoll Exotics, based in Oregon, that specializes in Passiflora. They even have ‘Mission Dolores’, a rare and prized hybrid of Passiflora parritae and Passiflora antioquiensis, which not only has gorgeous flowers (see picture above) but also tasty fruit. This went in my cart, along with Passiflora edulis ‘Frederick’ which also produces good fruit without needing another plant to pollinate it. I hope to be able to provide a taste review on these by this time next year.
And with that, I really have to reign in my plant passion for the year!
Have you grown passionflowers? What has been your experience? What conditions do they thrive under?