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No luck with passionfruit

RosieW
Established Contributor

No luck with passionfruit

I would really love to get a passionfruit going, but haven't had much success. I know they're heavy feeders so i prepared the soil thoroughly. First one I planted about 7 years ago, died (I don't think it got enough sun). But the root stock is STILL popping up all over the place! I tried again late last year - this time in its own garden bed in a sunny spot (to keep my dog out mainly) - again lots of compost, sheep manure. It died too. The horticulturalist at Bunnings said it sounded like too much or too little water.  I'd love to hear if others have had this happen to them too and any stories about what they do for happy healthy passionfruit.

Community Manager Jason
Community Manager

Re: No luck with passionfruit

Let me tag a couple of our resident horticulturalists for you @RosieW

 

Hopefully @Adam_W@CathM@Branchy249 and other Workshop community members can have some helpful advice for you.

 

Jason

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Adam_W
Established Contributor

Re: No luck with passionfruit

Hey @RosieW, sorry to hear your story but... it's surprisingly common.
Frustrating thing is that you see seemingly neglected passionfruit performing amazingly well yet one you look after turns its toes up.
Okay, a few thoughts that might help...
First-off where are you? Just rough region.
Technically passionfruit are warm climate plants so think tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate.
On saying that they can survive & thrive in micro-climate pockets but… if summer isn’t long enough or hot enough they won’t produce fruit. Period.
Yes, you are correct they are hungry, horticulturists will call them ‘gross feeders’ gotta’ love that expression, I had a mate like that once… anyhews…
Well-composted manure & quality compost as well as controlled release fertiliser are a must.
They will tolerate full-sun through to semi-shade with the rough rule of thumb being the hotter the climate the more shade they will in-fact require.
Now, here’s the biggie, the main cause of passionfruit failure – soil and water.
They need really free draining soil. Their ideal soil is a fertile sandy-loam.
Too dry & they will suffer and probably survive, too wet & they will die. Quickly.
A waterlogged plant can die almost overnight.
A problem can arise when you have added extra composts and manures too close to the root ball. Even if the soil is perfect the additives hold too much moisture.
And if you’ve added too much of them? Likewise. Soil goes gluggy.
They will not tolerate clay soil or soil that even only occasionally gets waterlogged.
If you have such a situation then plant them in a decent sized mound above the clay.
They are also surface rooting with fine roots so you need to keep them well mulched, personally I favour lucerne or pea-straw for these sort of things.
Phew… okay, that’s about it.
Hope something in there makes sense!
Good luck!

simondavis
New Contributor

Re: No luck with passionfruit

If you dug the sheep manure in with the root stock, you may have over-fertilised and effectively "poisoned" the plant. A friend recently added Dynamic Lifter in with the plant, a Chinese Star Jasmine - very tough plant in my experience - and it almost died. We lifted it, dug out the planting hole and replaced with clean soil and it sprung back to life. Most horticultural experts (which I am not) seem to suggest you apply the fertiliser over the top of the soil after planting. Even slow acting organic fertilisers apparently. Good luck !
RosieW
Established Contributor

Re: No luck with passionfruit

@Adam_W@simondavis Thanks for your advice. Sounds like I overfertilised at the root AND waterlogged the poor plant - as it did literally die overnight. I am clearly a passion fruit murderer!  I’m in melb so would like to try that full-sun spot one more time next summer. If it carks it again i’ll give up!

Adam_W
Established Contributor

Re: No luck with passionfruit

@simondavis  you’ve brought up a couple of interesting points that when viewed with @RosieW's issue are really worth unpacking so here we go…

The biggest problem with planting is that to generalise about how to do it correctly, beyond a couple of basics, is asking for disaster.

Why?

Simple... Too many variables.

These include – type of soil, type of plant, type of climate, time of year.

Here’s the closest you could come to a safe generalisation about planting & then I’ll dissect a few of the points to demonstrate the hazards of generalising.

 

Step 1) – Dig a planting hole to at least twice the pot width and slightly deeper than the pot.

Step 2) – Carefully remove the plant from the pot, position in hole & check depth. The top of the potting mix on the plant should be sitting at the same height as the surrounding soil. Adjust hole depth if required.

Step 3) – Improve the soil that will go back into the hole by adding compost or manure and fertiliser.

Step 4) – Backfill the hole with the improved mix. Create a watering wall ‘dam’ around the perimeter of the hole. Spread fertiliser on surface. Water well.

Step 5) – Stake plant if required.

Step 6) – Apply mulch around area, water well & you’re done.

 

To tease that out…

 

Step 1) – This is fine if you have a good free draining soil.

If you have clay then it will kill most plants. Never dig into a clay-pan. You must plant above it and this may mean creating a planting mound and adding clay breaker to the soil to help break-up the clay beneath your planting.
Digging into a clay pan and then dropping a plant in is like putting the plant into a saucer of water. With watering & rain it will drown.

Step 2) – Tick, tick, tick.

Step 3) – This is the most risky area of generalisation… Any compost or manure added must be very well broken down or composted. ‘Well rotted’ in old gardeners lingo.

Fresh manures and composts that aren’t reduced to fine 'crumbs' should never be used. There is too much risk of them scorching or continuing to breakdown in the soil and introducing all manner of fungal disorders or turning soil anaerobic, that is, free from oxygen and smelly.

Likewise any fertiliser – it must be suitable for use at planting time & suitable for the plant variety.

My personal favourite is Scotts Osmocote Plus Organics. I have never had a bad outcome with any of it.

Then you have the issue of plant variety. Different plants need different amounts of organic matter. Add lots of compost when you’re planting a grevillea or banksia or kangaroo paw & you’ll be lucky if they last a week.
Don’t add lots when you’re planting a Murraya or a lilly-pilly and they’ll not perform well.
Then there’s the soil… if it’s sandy you’ll need double the compost & manure. If it’s a silty-loam then a 1/2 of the ‘regular’ amount.
And the climate – too much organic matter added to a soil in a high rainfall climate can result in the soil around your plants holding too much moisture and going anaerobic.

And finally time of year – personally I use less compost etc. if I’m planting in Autumn/Winter as the risk of it staying too moist for too long, not breaking down & causing fungal problems is higher.

Step 4) – Tick, tick, tick.

Step 5) – Staking must use at least 2 stakes and be done so as to avoid the root ball. When tying the tree/shrub it should still be allowed a little movement in all directions to allow ‘reaction wood’ to develop. This wood is the equivalent of tree muscles that help it resist falling over or snapping in prevailing winds.

Step 6) – Make sure mulch is at least 40 to 50mm thick and clear of the trunk by at least 50mm. Any fertiliser spread should be suitable for both the plant and for use when planting.

 

Now… I haven’t said any of this to try & overcomplicate things, just to help folks realise that just a little research before planting & using the right products will generally give you a truly awesome outcome!
Know your soil, know your plant, know your climate & happy gardening

Adam_W
Established Contributor

Re: No luck with passionfruit

Never give up @RosieW
Now is actually a very good planting time as soil is still warm enough for roots to get established then come spring the plant will really take off.
Maybe have a read through my other loooong post too for some more tips.
Cheers

Community Manager Jason
Community Manager

Re: No luck with passionfruit

Fantastic advice @Adam_W. Many thanks for sharing your expertise. 

 

Jason

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RosieW
Established Contributor

Re: No luck with passionfruit

All right @Adam_W you've inspired me to give it another go. I just love the flowers and am trying to encourage more insects in the garden. If it fruits that's a bonus. Recommend any variety over another for sunny/rainy/windy/crazy Melbourne?

Adam_W
Established Contributor

Re: No luck with passionfruit

Awesome @RosieW
I'm going to ask a good friend of mine, who is Melbourne-based & an incredible food-gardener, for her advice on the best variety so stay tuned!

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