Inducing blooming and rooting cuttings

adrianag(AL z7)February 18, 2005

Please help this passiflora novice.

I have a 2.5 year old passiflora in my greenhouse with vines 10-15 feet long which has given me ONE flower in it's life. Is this normal or is there something I can do to induce flowering? I think this plant was supposed to be p. alata - I had a lot of tags fade due to longooooong germination, etc. But from the blue flower and the very tart fruit, my guess is that it actually is an edulis.

Second question - how difficult is it to root cuttings? IS there a trick to it?

Third question - I have a lot of passiflora seeds which are at least 3 years old. Germination was very low and slow back then, should I ditch this seed?

Thanks in advance.

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Adriana G --

There are a couple of things that might be going on with your p. alata:

1. Light -- if it's not getting full sun all day, it's not going to flower well.

2. Watering -- if it IS getting a lot of light, it will need a lot of water, especially in warmer months, to keep moist. If it's been in the same pot for a couple of years, it may be time to repot.

3. Passies don't need a lot of fertilizer, so if you're getting a lot of growth, but no flowers, cut back on the fertilizer, even if you're using a bloom-booster.

4. Finally, passies bloom on new shoots, so you should consider cutting back (not all the way, always leave a foot or so of leaves!) and training the vine horizontally, maybe around a trellis or cane, since it is whispered by the wise ones that horizontal training promotes more budding on new stems.

I've never tried to root cuttings, so others can give more detail, but I've heard it's best to start in spring, when the plants are waking up and putting out new shoots, and to keep cuttings warm, and moist but not sopping.

Again, don't know much about seeds, but I'd guess they're bird food by now.

Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 12:06PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Thanks Jim,
Light and water are not a problem. Maybe nutrients could be cut back; it's catching the runoff from my hydroponic basil beds which have a low-medium level of nutrients... I also have some passis of the same age in pots and THEY are not fertilized as reularly and THEY aren't flowering either. Two of them are probably p. ligularis, judging from the leaves, two are mollissimas and and the other two are tri-lobed mysteries.

Harrumph! Maybe they just don't like Alabama. I think I'll give them a drastic haircut and try to root the tips of the vines while I'm at it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 4:50PM
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This link may help. A bit technical but explains what is happening. Cutting back on some will make the problem worse.
Ligularis can be very tricky to flower. See
Mollissima can be tricky too if it gets too hot.

Too much nitrogen will stop flowering. Try high potassium feed (K+) If at all possible put your plants out in natural light once no frost risk.


Here is a link that might be useful: Passiflora genes and flowering

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 3:29AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Thanks for the excellent article Passionflow. This whole issue is made trickier by the lack of a good ID on my plant. Not knowing if it is a short day or long day plant or even what temperatures it will survive makes the manipulation riskier. Without a good ID we also don't know what the normal flowering season should be.

My plan:

1. I will go back through my seed stash to see if I can narrow down the varieties.

2. I will stop all fertilizing except for some potassium and stop being so nice on the watering.

3. I will use caution and not drastically cut back the plants. But I WILL take a fair number of cuttings to see if this might trigger a response. This will also give me "backup plants" in case of a drastic failure.

4. Since I have more than one specimen of each plant and some are smaller than my main monster plant I will put some outside - our temperatures range from 4°C at night to 15°C in the daytime. This may be cool enough to trigger a vernalization response without a huge risk.

5. I can also put some in a filtered light environment on an "underdeck" outdoors in case they could benefit from a part-shade situation. This would mimimc the growing out from under the tree canopy scenario.

6. Regarding the molissima, our hot humid climates are a far cry from the high altitudes and environmental conditions it likes in Colombia so I know I'm swiming upstream with this one and will settle for foliage.

A couple more questiosn:
Am I correct in assuming that once passifloras achieve maturity and do start flowering that any plants started from cuttings will also reflect this maturity?

In citrus, I have read that sometimes a flowering response can be triggered by scoring the bark of the tree all the way around the trunk. The tree thinks it is dying and this triggers a massive flowering response...risky but interesting if I have a sacrificial plant.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 4:57AM
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Hi Adriana,
When it comes to things like flowering your mature passionflower, you need to start by thinking about what it does in the wild... A wild Passiflora will spend a few years climbing up one (or a few) trees until it reaches the top. At that point the new growth will sense the fact that there is more light available. The growth that proceeds that will have elongated internodes (node- where leaf meets stem, internode- bit of stem between nodes)and the plant will then start making flowers from the nodes of that part of the plant. So, simply growing your Passiflora from partial shade into full sun could kick it into flowering.
On the subject of cuttings, if you want good cuttings you must take them from good healthy stems that have short internodes- this is important, cuttings taken from a stem getting ready to flower will generally root, but won't grow for a season, making it very difficult to guage watering and thereby increasing the chance that they will simply rot in their pots.
Good luck with your babies, If you are ever in the UK, come visit and see our magnificent collections in the glasshouses here at Kew Gardens.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 9:57AM
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