The Jesuit missionaries that rode along with the Conquistadors into South America in the 16th Century used the intricate design of the passion fruit flower petals to explain the story of the Crucifixion; 10 petals and sepals represented the apostles, a crown of thorns was seen in the filaments, and the five anthers represented the five wounds. The three stigmas were the nails that pierced the hands and feet of Jesus and the vine’s tendrils were equated with the whips? The Passion of Christ!
The Passion fruit flower is truly a work of art, quite exquisite and they are popping out now, in summer, to evolve into fruit ready for autumn feasting.
Passion fruit vines love a north facing position in the garden, a rich composty soil, plenty of room (well at least 2 metres) to spread about and wire or strong trellising to wrap their wiggling tendrils onto.
Back in the day, (when ever that was?) you traditionally planted your Passion fruit on a piece of liver purchased from the butcher, or your dead cat, dog or possum, apologies to the squeamish.This provided the Passion fruit with a big hit of nitrogen, they are extremely hungry, and have a ferocious appetite success with a Passion fruit relies on a good feeding routine. These days, you can happily load them up with a good organic complete fertiliser.
Passion fruit comes in several different styles, the tradition Nellie Kelly Black, great for the southern states of Australia. The Panama Red produces, large, sweet luscious fruit, really abundant in crops and spreads over a much larger area. A yellow version, Panama Gold, is also a beauty, with large delicious fruit, and a vigorous and highly productive vine.
Always choose a grafted Passion fruit, this will ensure a disease resistant plant that is hardy and strong growing. Always true to type, you are assured of a quality professionally grown plant that will thrive for you for a lifetime.
Prune your Passion fruit in spring, shear off about 30cms of growth. Then feed the plant. Feed again in summer, apply a tonic in late summer and then a gentle feed or tonic in mid to late autumn.
If you pick you Passion fruit before 12 Noon they stay smooth skinned if you pick them in the afternoon they wrinkle, either way, they taste fantastic, sparkling and sweet in flavour, and a handsome and rewarding plant to grow.