Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My passion

One of my great passions in life, is growing plants. Especially through propagation! There's nothing quite like being able to duplicate a plant, many times over, and plant them around the yard. It's kind of magical.

But even more magical, are the plants which show up, of their own accord. It's propagation by nature - and I can appreciate how other animals go about their business (literally) and move seed around for me. Especially after a well-known parent plant, dies.

July 2012 - parent passionfruit vine 
note the silver foliage, of the wormwood (front - centre)

Take the passionfruit vine, in the background of the above picture. It was a splendid producer, with minimal care by us, but it needed more room, than we had beside the chicken coop. So we removed it one year, in preparation to install some new hugelkultur beds in the vegetable area, below.

See part 1 and part 2, of those particular hugelkultur installations.

I attempted to take a few of the remaining fruits, and scatter their seeds around the garden - in hopes more plants would emerge. All but one, didn't make it!

April 2016 - new vine

It was the least likely specimen, I thought would survive, as it came up in an arid area with minimal moisture. I knew it wouldn't survive long, so I relocated it under this acacia tree. I hear these trees are great for allowing passionfruit vines to invade, as they're a nitrogen fixing tree. The passionfruit benefits, as the tree goes into decline - lapping up all that nitrogen near its roots.

I'm happy to say, this vine survived the killer summer temps we had, due to the shade of the hardy native tree. Mulching with coffee grounds and twigs, helped in part, too. I expect this one will be putting out fruit by next growing season. Complete with it's pre-grown, natural trellis.

Much to my surprise however, I found another vine had popped-up in a secret location.

Surprise vine #1

The passionfruits which fell to the ground, on the old vine, were often hauled around the garden, by the brush turkeys or native rats. What seed wasn't dispersed as they were ransacked, were pooped out later. This passionfruit vine, was the result of nature's special propagation tactics - using other animals for seed dispersal.

This is one of the benefits of having brush turkey's in your yard! They pick at your food plants (annoying when they dig them up entirely) and move seed around in their digestive tract. Eventually leaving little nuggets of seeds, waiting for the next rains to germinate them.

Surprise vine #2 - that wormwood again!

Another passionfruit vine emerged from underneath the wormwood bush, near the other one. Which I only noticed, when it's leaves emerged at the top.

So nature managed to illicit several animals, to take the abundance of fruit drop and turn them into several new plants. Two plants, to my one, actually! So I'm happy for the help, and accept the good with the bad as far as living with brush turkey's is concerned. Boy, they can be destructive. But they do play an important part in nature too.

Which is why as much as they annoy me (digging up my seedlings) we find a way to live with them. We're all in this propagation business, together.


  1. I love it when there are surprises in the garden. It has taken the four years of us working on this ex rental and sandy suburban property for this to be starting to happen. Our surprise passionfruit have been moved to a trellis on the fence line. This years main surprise was an amazing amount of bak choy and tomatoes popping up.
    I have finally managed to get a good strike rate with some cuttings. Lemon balm, rosemary, coffee and cintronella. These will go into the garden as scent and shape camouflage plants. I love having a diverse and dense garden. I also don't have a lot of money to spend so my garden is taking time to build. It will eventually get to be the vision I have in my head.

    1. Propagating, can definitely save money! Glad to see you having success in your patch as well. All that surprise food you didn't even plant. Always such a delight.

  2. Gardening is one of my passions too, Chris. I love it! At the moment, we have a "volunteer" pumpkin vine running amok along the back fence, lots of tiny little basil plants coming up from where the seeds fell from a parent plant and little lettuces that must've come from self-seeding of lettuce in the wicking barrels close by. Free food!!! Meg:)

    1. You're fortunate to have a pumpkin vine. All the ones I plant, don't seem to survive. It's the volunteers which run rampant though! I'm happy to see a couple have sprouted in our compost area, and I won't be interfering with them. Enjoy your free food.

  3. Can't imagine life without gardening. At present we have lots of little plants popping up in my separate "self seeding vege patch", so it gets more and more random each season. I love your passion fruit vines, and wonder if they are like ours that germinate and bear no fruit. I love them for their climbing habit so I let them be, but unless we plant grafted vines we get flowers but no fruit. What is your secret?

    1. Self-seeding gardens are wonderful Sally. They do surprise, every year with something new. :)

      Wow, that's really interesting with the passionfruit vines. We planted the parent plant on an ox liver - as the old folklore goes. It contains iron to give the plant a good start. A bit of boron or iron chelate powder can help, if it needs help later. The reason we got such an abundance of fruit though, is because we'd regularly pruned it.

      The chicken coop was constantly being invaded by the vine, so we'd hack it back a lot. Many times a year. The fruit only forms on new shoots, not old. So a good prune might help with fruiting. Although there is another phenomena which occurs with grafted passionfruit. If that is what your current vine originated from - rather than seed.

      If the grafted section dies, the rootstock re-shoots and it forms flowers without forming fruit. It's difficult to tell, if it's done this, if the main trunk is covered in foliage. Once the rootstock takes over, it just looks like the original trunk. For more info, read here.

      I hope you can uncover your little mystery! Apart from regular pruning to save the chicken coop, our vines were terribly neglected. No special feeds, nothing! Because if you overfeed the vine with too much nitrogen, it will put out foliage, at the expense of fruit.

  4. You're lucky....I've never had any success with growing passionfruit from seed, but luckily, cuttings strike readily. Thanks for the tip that fruit only forms on new growth...I didn't know that.

  5. We pruned out of necessity, to keep the coop from being invaded by passionfruit vine - but it had the side effect of producing abundant fruit. I only learned that recently too. :)

  6. Hi Chris, I live in the Toowoomba area too and wondered what variety of Passionfruit you used for our climate?

    1. Hi Helen - I planted two varieties; black Nellie Kelly, and the Red Panama. I believe my black variety died, and the root stock took off. Because I never did see a black passsionfruit. It was the Red Panama that did exceptionally well.


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