Passiflora racemosa: Passion Flower

This species is native to Brazil, growing in places where temperatures are lower in winter, but not as low as in the preceding species. Furthermore, it is not as tall as this species, and thus very suitable for the modern centrally-heated home. The flowers, about 10 to 12 cm (4 to 43/« in) across, are beautifully coloured. The principal requirement in cultivation is porous, well-drained compost such as John Innes potting compost No. 1, and in winter practically no water.

This is not the only species suitable for use as a house plant. If there is enough space in the room, a good choice is P. alata with flowers about 10 cm (4 in) across, the perianth segments coloured red and the long corona filaments striped horizontally a darker colour. The similar P. quadrangularis has flowers about 12 cm (43/4 in) across, but the sepals are white and the white and purple corona filaments are arranged in five rows. Both species are widely grown in the tropics for their fruit, the seeds of which are enclosed in a gelatinous pulp that tastes some-what like gooseberry.

Where space is limited the very small, annual P. gracilis is recommended. The leaves are 3-lobed, dark green, the flowers small, 2.5 cm (1 in) across and coloured white and green, the fruits are deep red when ripe and very decorative.

Passion flowers also include amongst their number some that have decorative foliage, for example P. maculifolia and P. trifasciata with predominantly rose-red foliage. Both species are particularly good for growing in a case for epiphytes for they do not tolerate a dry atmosphere.

Passion flowers should be put in a sunny spot. Large-flowered species require abundant heat but all species have a rest period in winter at which time the heat should be lowered and water limited. Feed should be provided only about once a month. Propagation is relatively easy — either by means of seeds, which germinate in succession but reliably even after a long dormant period, or by means of cuttings with two pairs of leaves inserted in a warm propagator in a compost that is preferably sandy rather than peaty. The popular P. racemosa (syn. P. princeps), however, takes a long time to form roots, sometimes even several months.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Passiflora racemosa: Passion Flower

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