Written by Wally Richards.


In the last 15 plus years I have found that Passion fruit vines are difficult to grow outside, but they can do fairly well in my glasshouse in Palmerston North.

About 40 odd years ago I used to have passion fruit vines growing very well outdoors, when the spring/summer weather was more settled and much sunnier than it is these days.

This once again relates to more clouds in our skies than there used to be?

Recently I read an article from an engineer that explained why there are more clouds than in the past.

I quote: 'Water Vapor in the air is what rain comes from, so enormous cooling towers that put enormous amounts of Water Vapor into the air, would logically affect where and how much rain would fall.

In fact, based on a 1971 study at Zion Nuclear Power Plant which investigated the impact of proposed cooling towers (which showed that they did – in fact – affect the amount of rain and snow that would fall down wind)

Cooling Towers were rejected at that facility. In spite of this reality, the next few decades saw an explosion of Cooling Tower installations at Power Plants all over the world, to the point that now – one would be hard-pressed to find a power plant without them.

Since each tower can evaporate thousands or even tens of thousands of gallons of Water Vapor per minute, and since there are 62,500 power Plants worldwide, it cannot be disputed that they are adding trillions of gallons of Water Vapor to the air… and that in such large numbers, they would necessarily have an affect rainfall.' End.

As of the end of August 2016, there were about 7,658 power plants in the United States alone)

Hence the rain dumps that are destroying the land and floods killing people and destroying property.

We have the sun evaporating water normally and creating clouds which shade the sun and if too cloudy for too long our plants dont get the direct sunlight they need. But if 62,500 power plants are capable of evaporating thousands or tens of thousands of gallons of water per minute EACH.

I think that is a lot of clouds and likely far more than what the sun could ever produce normally.

It is also likely the reason why there is becoming a shortage of water, there is too much upstairs till it dumps causing floods and devastation.

Back to my passion for passion fruit:

Its is annoying as I can easily get a passion fruit vine well established in the glasshouse, growing in a container, then when the weather is settled in the summer, plant it out in a sunny sheltered spot.

The vine does well and even a few fruit are produced that season. Then the following year it struggles and does little. A year or two of this and the plant is lost. (A number of gardeners have also had the same problems)

I think that to be successful, growing a vine in a glasshouse and hand pollinate the fruit which is what I am currently looking at doing.

If you have a great passion fruit vine growing outside you are very fortunate.

Recently a gardener, obviously more fortunate than me, rang to ask when the best time to prune a passion fruit vine is. The answer to that is in the spring or early summer when the vine is actively growing for the season.

To do so at other times can cause the vine to die back and be lost.

Lots of passion fruit vines are sold in garden centres every year and I wonder how many of these do well and produce good crops?

For success you need a sunny, warm situation with free draining soil. Heavy soils and wet feet are the end to passion fruit vine endeavors.

You can overcome the wet feet problem by growing in a container partly buried in the ground. Shelter from wind and chills is most important to obtain good growth.

An established plant can take some light frosting in winter but it is best to protect them from frosts with a spray of Vaporgard.

Animal manure rich compost should be applied to the root area in the spring and again later in summer.

They are heavy feeders. Chook manure is excellent. Also apply blood and bone along with Fruit and Flower Power. If you find that your vine is producing flowers, but no fruit is setting, then it means that the lack of bees or bumble bees is the cause.

You need then to pollinate by hand.

The centre of the flower is where the pollen needs to go and out from that, often curled back inwards, are the male stamens with the pollen. With a brush or cotton bud move the pollen to set the fruit.

To train your passion fruit vine select about 6 shoots from the crown, stake and tie, guiding the stems evenly to the left and right along horizontally attached wires set about 40 to 60 cm apart.

These will form the main branch structure. (Espaliered) Continue by training two or three shoots arising from each main leader to form secondary leaders, tying them to the main structure.

The laterals that arise from all these leaders will bear the flowers and fruit.

Allowed to let go and do their own thing becomes a jungle of vines which can harbor insect pests.

Passion vines bear fruit on the current season’s growth in the late summer/autumn and plants will crop 15 to 18 months after planting. You need to prune every spring/summer when the plants are growing vigorously. Earlier may cause die back problems.

Avoid vines becoming a tangled mess as it will invite disease and pests.

Shorten laterals to 20cm from the main stems and remove all dead, diseased and weak growth. Because one year old leaders produce the greatest number of fruiting laterals, remove some of the leaders each year so they can be replaced with vigorous young shoots.

The passion vine leaf hopper is likely to be your worst pest and at the first sign of either the green adults or the fluffy bum young ones, spray the plant all over with a combination of Super Neem Tree Oil and Super Pyrethrum.

This is done late in the day when the sun is off the vine and the pests have settled for the night. Repeat spray about 7 to 10 days till no further sign of the pest is noticed.

Whitefly may also be a problem and the same treatment will take care of them. Ensure that the underside of the lower leaves are sprayed as that is where the whitefly nymphs are.

It is important when trying to control a pest on preferred plants that you check all other plants and weeds in the area for the same pest and spray them also.

If you don't do so, then the pests will just keep on invading your plants, all season.

If the pests are near a neighboring fence, on the other side, then you need to get the ok from next door to treat there as well...

Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606).


Email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz

Phone 0800 466464
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at  www.sharpei.co.nz
Mail Order products at www.0800466464.co.nz

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