Passiflora mollissima produces beautiful pink flowers and edible 10cm (4in) long yellow fruits, like a short banana, which gives the vine its common name. The fruits taste delicious and are considered to be the finest of passionfruit juices; they are used to flavour ice creams, drinks, and cocktails.
Native to the Andes, the vines usually produce by the second year and can yield up to 300 fruits a vine when in full production.
The Banana Passion Flower is of the vine leaf type and dislikes high temperatures, unlike most of its cousins. It grows well in UK summers but don’t get too excited though, fruiting is rare in moderate climates. The plant can make 6m (20ft) given ample root room, a warm sunny wall and water but it needs a good flower feed with reduced nitrogen content, or it will just make leafy growth.
If their pot is too large or they have an unrestricted root run then the whole plant will simply get bigger but it will refuse to flower and produce fruits. By limiting the pot size you are limiting the ability to grow and this is seen as a threat, so the natural mechanism is to produce seeds for the next generation. A suitably sized pot for an adult plant would generally be 30cm (12in) in diameter.
Sowing: Sow in late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn.
Prior to Sowing, Soak the seeds for 24 hours. Soaking is beneficial in two ways; it can soften a hard seed coat and also leach out any chemical inhibitors in the seed which may prevent germination. 24 hours in water which starts off hand hot is usually sufficient. If soaking for longer the water should be changed daily. Seeds of some species swell up when they are soaked. As each seed swells it should be removed and sown before it has time to dry out. and the remainder pricked gently with a pin and returned to soak. Sow seeds in a peaty compost, 'just cover' with 6mm (¼in) of soil as the seeds need light to germinate.
Germination of Passiflora can occur in weeks or take several months.
If your home is on the low side of 20°C (68°F), your seeds will benefit from bottom heat with an electric soil warming cable kit, or a heating mat. It will stimulate early growth, and help seeds to germinate and cut the germination time by half. Cover the top of the pot with clear plastic so the humidity will remain high.
When you see some tiny plants starting to sprout, open the top of the pot, a little each day, so that the new seedlings don't go into shock from the humidity being lowered too quickly. Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Pot on as required. These plants have very fragile white roots and should be handled with care when potting up.
Grow on under glass in loam-based potting compost in full light with shade from hot sun. You may need to water your plants on a daily basis during the hottest summer months. During the winter the roots should be kept moist, but as growth will be much slower you will probably only need to water once a week, depending on growing temperature. Fertilize at least once every two weeks in the growing season.
If planting outdoors, gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10-15 days before planting out, space 30cm (12”) apart. Passion flowers like full sun and will scramble over trees and shrubs to get it.
Pot grown plants:
If the pot is too large or they have an unrestricted root run then the whole plant will simply get bigger but it will refuse to flower and produce fruits.
By limiting the pot size you are limiting the ability to grow and this is seen as a threat, so the natural mechanism is to produce seeds for the next generation. A suitably sized pot for an adult plant would generally be of 30cm (12”) in diameter.
Pruning is a must to keep the vine healthy. Prune off less vigorous growth and occasionally prune back vigorous growth to promote flowering. When established, and without care, the passion fruit can easily overtake other garden plants, shading them from sun. Prune in late winter or spring, by shortening side shoots to within three to four buds of the permanent framework of branches. This induces more compact growth and promotes the formation of flower buds in the shortened shoots.
Fences or trellis work or scrambling up trees and shrubs. Patio/Container Plants, Sub-tropical or Wall-side Borders. Container, Indoor / Greenhouse Plant
The Passion flower symbolises spirituality. 16th Century missionaries in South America named it the passion flower because they believed it symbolized the death of Christ - the sepals and petals represented the disciples; the double row stood for the crown of thorns, and the stamens stood for the wounds.
The National Collection:
The National Collection of Passiflora is kept at - Lampley Road, Kingston Seymour, Clevedon, North Somerset, BS21 6XS, United Kingdom
Tel : (0044) 01934 833350. Visitors are welcome but please call before visiting to confirm the opening times.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Genus Passiflora Species mollissina Common Name Passionflower, Passionfruit, Granadilla Other Common Names Passion vine Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Early Summer through to Autumn Foliage Evergreen Height 6m (20ft) in 5 to 10 years Spread 2m (6ft) Position Full sun preferred. West or South facing. Sheltered. Soil Well drained, fertile soil Notes Vine / Climber. Fruit