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Passiflora — Passion Flower

Mostly tender climbing plants with attractive flowers. They are found wild in South America, North America and Australia, and belong to the family Passifloraceae. These plants have slender stems, usually 20-30 ft. in length, which are covered with small, dark green, vinelike leaves. They climb by means of the tendrils which are formed in the axils of the leaves. The flowers, produced singly in the axils of the leaves, are 3-5 in. in diameter, and crimson, red, purple, blue or white.

From the peculiar arrangement of the various parts of the blooms, this plant has been given the name of Passion Flower. The flower consists of an outer ring consisting of ten petals, which were thought to represent the ten apostles, who witnessed the crucifixion or passion of Christ. Within these there is a ring of filaments, suggesting the crown o£ thorns, while the five stamens represent the wounds, and the three stigmas the nails. The name Passiflora is derived from passio, passion, and flora, a flower.

Treatment in Greenhouses. The all these plants is similar except for the temperature required. The tropical kinds need a minimum winter temperature of 55 degrees and the subtropical kinds one of 45 degrees.

The best potting compost consists of two parts of fibrous loam and equal parts of peat and leaf mold with a liberal amount of sand added. The plants are grown in large pots or tubs, or planted in a prepared bed or border in the greenhouse.

Repotting of plants that are in small pots is done in February or March. They are taken out of their pots and the crocks and loose soil are removed from the roots. The new pots, two sizes larger, are filled to one quarter their depth with crocks, which are covered with rough siftings from the compost or rough leaves. Sufficient compost is then added, so that when the plant is set in position the uppermost roots are an inch below the rim of the pot. The remainder of the compost is filled in and made firm.

After potting, the plants are set in a shady part of the greenhouse. The atmosphere is kept moist by damping the floor and benches as well as spraying the foliage two or three times a day. They are watered sparingly until well rooted, but during summer the soil must be kept moist by watering freely; throughout the winter very little water is required.

Planting and Potting. Well-rooted plants in 5-7-in. pots are set in their permanent positions in large pots or tubs, or are planted in a bed of soil in the greenhouse. Pots or tubs, 18-24 in. in diameter, are necessary, and these are prepared in the manner described above.

The best results are obtained by planting in a bed of soil in February or March. For a single plant, half a cubic yard of soil should be removed; a layer of broken bricks, 9 in. in depth, is placed in the bottom of the hole, and covered with pieces of fibrous turf, to prevent the compost from washing into the drainage and blocking it up. The remainder of the space is then filled with the prepared compost. The roots are spread out to their fullest extent and the compost made firm around them; otherwise the growth will be soft and sappy.

Plants in pots or tubs can be kept growing vigorously for many years by top-dressing them each spring with fresh compost. If they are in a bed of soil this attention is only necessary occasionally.

Pruning is done as soon as the plants have finished flowering. It consists of thinning out weak shoots and regulating the growths so that they fill the allotted space, without overcrowding. The main branches are secured to wires or a trellis fixed to the greenhouse wall or roof, and the short lateral shoots are allowed to hang down freely in order to display their attractive blossoms.

Cultivation Outdoors. Passion Flowers can be grown outdoors in the deep South, and one, P. incarnata, at least as far north as Virginia. They require a sunny position and well-drained loamy soil. Very heavy soil should be excavated and replaced with loam or good garden soil; light, sandy soil is made suitable by incorporating a liberal dressing of well-decayed manure or compost. Planting is done in spring. Pruning is the same as for the indoor kinds. The soil must be kept moist in dry weather and liquid fertilizer applied occasionally to plants which are not making satisfactory growth.

Propagating Passion Flowers. Propagation is by cuttings, seeds and layering. Seeds are sown in spring or summer in well-drained pots filled with sandy soil sifted through a 1/2-in. sieve. Before the seeds are sown, the pots of soil should be watered, then set aside to drain; the seeds are scattered thinly on the soil surface and are covered with 14 in. of fine soil. A pane of glass is laid over the seed pot, which is kept in a temperature of 60-70 degrees if the seeds are of tropical kinds, 50-60 degrees if the kinds are Passion Flowers that require cool greenhouse culture. When the seedlings show above the soil, the pane of glass is removed from the seed pot.

When the seedlings are big enough, they are potted separately in 3-in. pots, and later into larger pots. A sandy, peaty soil is recommended for this first potting.

When to Take Cuttings. Cuttings are taken in early summer. Shoots about 3 in. in length are taken; the lower leaves are then removed from these and the basal cut is made just below a node (joint). The cuttings are inserted under a bell jar or in a propagating case in a greenhouse and are shaded from direct sunshine. As soon as they have produced roots 1-2 in. long, they are planted individually in 2.5-in. or 3-in. pots in a sandy, peaty soil mixture.

Layering can be done at any time during the summer. A shoot which can conveniently be bent down to touch the soil is prepared by making an inch-long cut in a lengthwise direction through a node (joint) and extending nearly to the center of the stem. The cut should be made in a place where the stem is quite firm— which will usually be 1 ft. or more from the tip of the shoot. The cut part of the stem is pegged down on to sandy soil and is covered with the same kind of soil. The soil is kept moist until roots 1-2 in. long have formed. The rooted shoot is then severed from the parent plant and is potted in sandy, peaty soil in a pot just big enough to hold the roots without crowding.

The Chief Kinds. For the tropical greenhouse: P. alata, pink and purple; P. edulis, the Purple Granadilla, purple and white, edible fruits; P. quadrangularis, the Giant Granadilla, red, violet and white, grown extensively in certain tropical countries for its fruits; P. racemosa, purple, white and red; P. coccinea, scarlet and purple, fruit edible; P. laurifolia, Yellow Granadilla, white, red and violet, fruit edible; P. tetraden, scarlet; P. vitifolia, orange-scarlet to blood red. P. alato-caerulea is a handsome hybrid with white, pink, purple and blue flowers. P. coriacea, P. maculifolia, and P. trifasciata are interesting kinds grown for the beauty of their variegated foliage.

For the cool greenhouse: p. atropurpurea, purple, violet and white; P. caerulea, white and purple; P. caerulea grandiflora, with larger flowers; P. incarnata, native from Virginia to Florida and Texas, white and purple.

P. caerulea has several varieties, of which Constance Elliott, white, is one of the best.

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