Passiflora incarnate - from seeds to harvest "passion fruit"
Among the exotic fruits on the shelves of supermarkets there are also those that can be grown in our climate. Moreover, without much hassle, getting a crop of delicious fruits. Of course, it is important to understand here that the technological cycle of cultivation will be somewhat different from the usual, and not all varieties will do. Today I’ll tell you about my experience in growing “passion fruit” - from seeds to harvest. No, this is not exactly the passion fruit that we have, but this is her close relative. To be extremely precise, we will focus on growing passiflora incarnate (Passiflora incarnata) or, as it is also called, meat-red passionflower, meat-red passionflower, apricot liana, or maracoca.
Preparing seeds for germination
The first thing to start with is, of course, to get the seeds. Fortunately, now this is not a problem - on social networks there are even special groups, peculiar forums where connoisseurs and amateurs exchange experience and planting material.
The ripened seeds of Maracoca (let's call the culture like that, for short) are black, covered with a corrugated pattern of "washer" about 5 mm in diameter. They can be stored at room temperature and they do not need any stratification for germination. It is worth starting the germination process in February, then, most likely, you will have time to get the first crop of these tasty and fragrant fruits.
As I said, seeds do not need stratification, but it is worthwhile to carry out scarification (violate the integrity of the outer shell). To do this, fine sandpaper, or a file, or a nail file will do. Each seed needs to be slightly rubbed on a rough surface, so we damage the thin outer shell and allow moisture to get to the seed itself faster. Strongly, to holes, do not rub, just a little.
Such scarified seeds should be soaked in water for 2-3 days. Traditionally, I take filtered water from a well, and not from a water supply system, and change it a couple of times a day.
Moisturized seeds can already begin to germinate. And here is the attention! Maracoca seeds germinate at a temperature not lower than +30 degrees. This is really important. I spent a lot of time in vain and ruined part of the seeds, trying to germinate them at standard for our crops + 24 ... + 25 ° С. If you want to try the fruits of Maracoca already this season, then wasting time is unacceptable.
What to germinate? You can take a plastic container with a lid, fill it with peat or a coconut substrate, sphagnum moss, or even paper towels, but this substance must always be wet.
Where to get +30 degrees in February? Some hang the container on the back wall of the working refrigerator of the old model (it is warm), some place it at the right height above the battery, some use warm floors and cover from above. In general, a thermometer will help you determine the right place.
After a few days, the seeds that were already bogged down were carefully planted in containers in a standard purchased soil mixture for seedlings. Gradually seedlings develop. It is worthwhile in this period (end of winter — first half of spring) to have additional illumination. Already by May, you will grow quite large seedlings, from half a meter to a meter. When the threat of return frosts passes, after preliminary hardening, of course, they can be planted in open ground.
Planting and caring for passiflora incarnate in the open ground
The landing site, given our not very long summer, should be chosen as sunny as possible and, preferably, protected from the north. That is, the southern wall of the house or the barn is ideal. He filled the landing pit with a mixture of garden soil and compost. Watering is regular.
Keep in mind that maracoc is a vine and it needs space. To do this, put a trellis 1.7 m high and pulled on a regular plastic net for cucumbers. Clinging to the antennae, the liana gradually rises, and if you have not lost time in the spring, then in June it begins to bloom.
Passiflora flowers are something unbelievable, and Maracoca is no exception. You can probably describe them using botanical terms, but it’s better to see them once.
But it’s not for the sake of beautiful flowers that we grow them (although there are some), but for the sake of the fruits. And here one important feature is manifested. To obtain a crop, it is necessary that the flower is pollinated by pollen from the flower of another plant. Therefore, you need to have several vines nearby to get a guaranteed crop.
Artificial pollination of maracoca flowers
Moreover, the first flowers appear differently, and the flower lives only one day. It turns out that today it bloomed on one vine, tomorrow - on another, the day after tomorrow - on the third, but there is no ovary, and time is running out ... It doesn’t matter, this plant can be helped - we will do artificial pollination.
At the moment when the flower blooms, relatively speaking, on the vine No. 1, gently with tweezers or just fingers we tear off the anthers with yellow pollen and put them in a jar with a lid, and put the jar in the refrigerator. Such pollen can retain its properties for a couple of weeks.
When creeper No. 2 blooms, relatively speaking, we take out the boot from the fridge and smear the pistil of the flower. Yellow particles of pollen are clearly visible on the pistil. All! After a couple of days, you will notice that the fruit has started. I hope it is clear that you need to have several such pollen jars from different vines? And in order not to confuse, they and the creepers should be numbered.
Such a hassle for maracoca is needed only with the first flowers, then mass flowering begins, bees and other insects enter the pollination process. It is important to know that for ripening the fruit must pass 60 days from the moment of pollination. So consider: in my region (south) it is advisable to finish pollination by about the beginning of August.
An interesting feature of maracoca - its fruits very quickly, in a few days, gain their full size, but they ripen and gain weight for a long time, as I said, 60 days. The size of the fruits was about 7 cm in length and 5-6 cm in diameter, weight up to 60 grams. The result is not outstanding, but still.
How to determine if the fetus is ripe or not? A fully ripened fruit itself falls to the ground and gives off an incomparable aroma. So, do not be mistaken.
Fortunately for us, living outside the tropics, the fruits of Maracoca can be quite successfully ripened. If a cold snap is expected (by the way, the ovary can withstand a decrease to -5 degrees), the fruits from the vines can be removed and put in a cardboard box, put a few apples or bananas there. After 10–20 days, the smell of tropical fruits will notify you that ripening has occurred. Yes, the taste will be more acidic than naturally ripened, but in the second half of autumn we can enjoy this too.
Wintering Passiflora Incarnate
Now about the winter. There are several options for different regions. Say, in the south, a liana is cut off, leaving about 1 meter above the ground, turned into a ring and covered with agrofibre and earth. So she safely winters and in the spring begins its growth. In the more northern regions, the liana is also cut, but completely dug out of the ground, placed in a suitable container (container, 10 l bucket) and put into the basement.
At a low but positive temperature (+ 5 ... + 8 ° С), the incarnate passiflora spends winter, gathers strength, and in spring (after the earth warms up and the threat of frost passes) it lands in open ground. To obtain a larger and earlier harvest, a container with a plant can already be brought into the house in March.
In order not to go through the entire long process of seed germination, you can try to propagate the passiflora meat-red, pieces of rhizome or summer cuttings.
Well, a little about the fruits themselves. This is such a large green berry, when ripe - a little yellowish. Inside, under a thin skin, there are many aryluses - seeds surrounded by a jelly-sweet and sour and very fragrant pulp. In the case of maracoca, it is rather difficult to separate the pulp from the seeds. Therefore, if you do not collect seeds for growing, you can eat with them, or you can beat in a blender, turning everything into a homogeneous mass. This is an excellent filler for yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese. From the pulp, you can cook jelly and jam.
By the way, it was Passiflora meat-red that was grown and grown as a medicinal plant. All its parts have calming properties, and, according to the manufacturer, it is one of the components of the famous Novo-Passit drug.
Dear readers! It is believed that the incarnate passionflower is inferior to its relatives in the quantity and quality of this most delicious jelly-like pulp. But thanks to its unpretentiousness, it is quite possible to begin your acquaintance with exotic plants from it, and then try other species - edible passionflower, granadilla, etc.