How To Hand Pollinate Passion Fruit
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When fruits grow, they need some help from something else to produce their most beautiful form and function. This is called pollination!
Many plants rely on insects for this essential process. For example, bees and other flying insects move in and out of flower buds to facilitate fruit growth and set seed.
But what happens when there are no flowers or no flying insects? That’s where hand pollination comes into play. You can choose between doing it with your hands (the less attractive option) or using a syringe to directly inject pollen onto the stamen (male part of the flower).
While both methods work, only the first one is appropriate for passionate fruit growers like us. That’s because not using correct hygiene could potentially transmit disease. So let’s take a closer look at how to do it properly!
How to hand pollinate passion fruit
The term ‘hand pollination’ usually refers to transferring pollen by rubbing two sources together. In our case, that means touching the stigma (receptacle that receives the sperm) of a passionfruit ovary surface with either your index finger or a special tool called an aspirator.
You will also need a source of indirect light so you can see what you are doing. Because passionfruit grows quickly, polls should be done within 24 hours of a full bloom stage.
Look inside the fruit
While most people use their hands to manipulate fruits, only doing it with ripe fruits, there are more ways to hand pollinate passion fruit! If you look inside the fruit, you will see that there is an inner layer or skin called spongy tissue. This can be used as a way to handle the plant in stages of pollen collection and growth.
This process works best when the passion flower has already produced some seeds because then the extra nutrients from the pollen source are needed for seed germination. When flowers have set lots of seeds, they become heavier so they drop faster.
Check it for damage
Even though passion fruits are not edible, there is still an important step in how to hand pollinate passion fruit that needs to be done! Before you can plant them, you have to make sure they are healthy and that they do not look damaged or rotten.
If you notice any kind of damage such as cracks, wet patches, or if the skin looks wrinkled, then these should be checked out immediately.
You don’t want anything with seeds that could potentially spread disease! Luckily, most grocery stores will let you know whether a specific variety has free seeds so you don’t need to worry about that.
Prepare the fruit
After you have picked your passion fruits, you will need to prepare them. This can be done either at home or in a professional setting.
You will want to remove the skin of the passion fruit. When removing the skin, make sure not to break the pulp, as this would affect the flavor.
Next, if the passion fruit is self-colored, like green ones, you do not have to do anything to these fruits. If it has white or bright yellow pulp, then that color should remain.
However, if the pulp for the passion fruit is darker than the rest of the flesh, then you will want to wash the pulp more thoroughly. The sulfur content in the peel can turn the dark pulp grayish-blue.
Removing the peel too quickly may cause the inner parts to become mushy which could potentially hurt the taste.
Pollinate the fruit
While most people know how to do this with apples, kiwis or oranges, not many are familiar with how to hand pollinate passion fruits! Luckily, we have an easy step-by-step guide for you here!
Step one is to wash your hands thoroughly before touching the passion flower or its pollen source. This removes any germs that could potentially prevent fertilization or infection of the plant.
Next, choose a location that has enough sunlight to help promote growth and sprouting of the seedlings. You want to make sure it’s also free from heavy traffic, as they can be trampled on.
Once everything is ready, take a good look at the passion flowers to see if there are any frosts. If there are, break those apart using clean scissors or a knife. Only use dry hands to do so, otherwise the moisture may cause the seeds to stick in longer than needed.
Now, pick off a small amount of pollen by rubbing your index finger across the top of the stigma (the part that receives water and nutrients). Make sure to only pull out a very light layer, just enough to spread around the stigma.
If possible, cover the rest of the stigma with your other index finger to protect it from getting too much pollen. Once done, apply the gathered pollen onto the bottom side of the white pistil area.
Store passion fruit
While most people buy fresh passion fruits at grocery stores, there are some great ways to preserve the flavor and function of passion fruit. If you do not like eating it right away, then drying or freezing is your best option.
Most recipes call for dried or frozen berries that can be mixed into yogurt or other foods as an ingredient. When adding dry or frozen berries in baking, remember to use the correct amount of berry puree needed to achieve the perfect balance of texture and taste.
Too much berry puree may result in over-drying the food while too little will leave you with sweet watery berries which does not fit the rest of the recipe. There are several brands of dehydrated passion fruit powder that can be used in any recipe!
These would be better to add directly to cooked dishes instead of being mixed into another ingredient first.
Tell your friends about your passion fruit
When fruits are not available or you do not feel like eating them, you can always hand pollinate a new variety of passion fruit! This has never been done before so there is no formal guidance on how to do it, but we have some tips from experienced passionate growers here!
The first thing you will need to do is find someone with fresh passion fruit that is almost ripe. These should be slightly soft and fuzzy when pressed gently along the skin. (Note: if they are very hard then they may have overripened which could cause spoilage.)
Next, take a piece of cotton wool and soak it in a solution containing sugar and chlorine-based bleach. Mix both ingredients together and add enough to make the liquid thick — around one cup per half gallon of water.
Now, using the wet cotton as a brush, apply the mixture onto the stigma (the part of the flower that receives pollen) of the passion fruit. Work slowly and carefully to avoid getting any excess on the plant’s leaves.
Leave the solution to dry for at least an hour and then try to touch the stigma again to see whether it has received its own pollen.
Try new recipes with passion fruit
While most people use either squeezing the juice of the passion fruits or slicing them in half for consumption, there are other ways to eat your passion fruit! If you like spicy foods, why not try adding some pepper onto the passion fruit before eating it?
Mixing the seeds of the passion fruit with yogurt is another way to enjoy this citrus fruit. Addging some granulated sugar can also help make the texture more spreadable.
There are many different types of hand pollination you can do with passion fruit! Some people suggest doing it while eating the fruits, but that may not work for everyone.
Having dry hands can sometimes make manipulating the fruit difficult. If this is the case, then practicing yoga before trying to handle the fruit is a great way to go about it.
Yoga has been shown to increase blood flow which helps your body feel more relaxed and comfortable. This helps when working on things like pinching or rubbing the pulp of the passion fruit between your fingers.
Your hands will also be wet less which makes it easier to manipulate the fruit.