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There are many plants suitable for covering stretches of bare fence in the back garden aid it is not difficult to find something which will provide the necessary cover and add some beauty and interest.
But there are few to equal the common black passion fruit (Passillora edulis) for a diversity of qualities. With its attractive foliage, flowers of fascinating design and useful fruit it is deservedly popular. If there's a patch of fence which needs a little concealment a passion fruit plant will be worth considering now.
Planted at this time of the year it will get away to a good start because it is essentially a sun lover. A warm, sunny situation, well-drained and well-enriched soil with plenty of summer moisture are the basic needs. It is true that the passion fruit often causes growers disappointment and there are plenty of people who feel that the vine is not worth growing because of their lack of success with it.
But most failures are due to some clearly defined reasons, apart from not giving the plant the conditions it needs.
Among the chief reasons are failure to obtain plants from reliable sources or raising seedlings from poor parent plants. Inherent weaknesses in seedlings usually result in plants lacking vigor and producing little or no fruit, or producing empty fruit.
Excessive care, however, can also be a contributory factor in the light setting of crops. Plants which are fed heavily, particularly with nitrogenous material, will grow over-vigorously, making
a lot of extra growth at the expense of fruit.
Overfeeding can kill grafted vines by causing them to grow too vigorously for the stock on which they are grafted, an experience which sometimes causes people to unfairly reject the grafted vine.
Grafted vines have proved particularly popular for their vigor and productivity, but seedling vines also produce well.Whatever sort is grown, it should be remembered that the life-span is comparitively short and it is wise to plan for a replacement every seven years.
Old strawy poultry manure is one of the best feeds for growing passion fruit. but care must be taken to ensure that it is old and well-aired.
If used while fresh and strong, it could quickly kill the vine. Other old forms of animal manure can be combined with straw. grass clippings, &c. to provide both a feed and a mulch. Where complete fertilisers are used they can be applied at the rate of a handful to the square metre around the plant, but the addition of a little extra potash will be beneficial.
Regular watering during summer months is essential.
Because of the large expanse of foliage and fairly small root system, passion fruit can wilt quickly during hot weather. As the vine grows it will need some support and this is generally best supplied by attaching a trellis or wire netting to the fence or stringing wires horizontally.