Pruning the passionfruit

Passionfruit vines are pretty much an Australian backyard tradition. The vines grow well in our climate (there are different varieties for the different climates of the country: black passionfruit for the Southern states, Banana and Red or Panama passionfruit for the tropics). They suffer few pest problems, and require little attention. When plants are healthy, they are prolific. The flowers are beautiful. The plant is attractive. And, the fruit is delicious. I don’t know many people that don’t enjoy fresh passionfruit spooned over a pavlova or some ice cream in the Summer.

I said they require little attention, but they do require some. Firstly, they are not long-lived plants. A passionfruit vine will live and produce well for about seven years. Thereafter, the productivity will reduce and it is best to replace the vine. They are also hungry plants, requiring a good quality feed regularly. My mother swears by banana peels under the passionfruit vine to give it a good shot of potassium. I don’t know whether this works, but I do it (my mother is an excellent gardener, so I usually follow her advice). However, I don’t do what her mother did, and bury a lamb’s liver under it. For one thing, ew. For another, we have a dog over the road and I am pretty sure that Hairy Maclairy would sniff out a liver buried under the passionfruit.

Passionfruit also require a haircut now and then. Ours was looking very straggly and sad, and last season’s crop was far less productive than previous years’.

You can see all the dead wood underneath, and the growth that is there is yellowing and just not happy. I have actually left it a bit late to prune the poor thing, but I have decided to sacrifice a crop this year to build a healthier plant and a good crop next year.

I started quite carefully, trying just to remove the dead wood underneath and keep as much of the foliage on top as I could.

Sorry about the buzz cut

I failed.

I name many of my plants (yeah well what’s your weird trait?). This plant is named Odette. I love her very much and I am sorry I failed her in this regard. But even with a radical buzz cut, I have to say she looks better than she did before.

I rewarded her with a big feed of pelletised chicken manure and half a bag of sheep manure. If I expected her to produce fruit and flowers this year, I might also have added some potash, but all I expect from her this year is to put on lots of new foliage. The chicken and sheep manure will help her to do that. She is now having a big drink to help the feed soak in.

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