Anybody else working on maypop (Passiflora incarnata)?

I love the taste of passionfruit.

Alas, I live in Canada (zone 5b) and dont have one of those neato passive solar greenhouses (yet…)

However, a few years ago i found out that I’m juuuust north of maypop’s native range. Then EFN launched the Hardy Maypop Improvement project and I’ve been dreaming of a passionfruit arbor growing in my little Canadian garden ever since.

This year I finally have enough garden space that I can realistically meaningfully contribute to some plant breeding AND I’m 99% sure I finally managed to overwinter a single maypop plant (including an aboveground stem segment! without protection! …it was a mild winter).

So now I’m scrambling to get my hands on more seeds/plants so I can produce fruit and seeds for further selection. Im wondering whether anyone else here is working on this and has made progress that could give me a jump start.

I’d like to first establish a breeding population reliably hardy to zone 5, then hopefully start selecting for flavour/juiciness etc.

I have ordered another packet of hardy maypop seeds from EFN. However, the germination on those packets is quite erratic and slow, and even with a (MUCH) earlier start the last 2 years, I think my biggest challenge was getting delicate baby plants established enough to survive their first winter. I’d probably need A LOT more than one seed packet to bet on getting even one overwintering maypop from an April start.

I can/will also order maypop seedlings from Richter’s so I can at least enjoy some maypops and get my one overwintered plant to produce seed (they are mostly self sterile), but the Richters plants arent selected from the hardiest strains AFAIK so thats a step backwards.

Any suggestions?

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If i were faced with this problem i’d capitulate and grow a selection of different hardy varieties in the highest thin pots the first year, strictly watering from the bottom and then overwinter them inside. Just for the sake of seed increases.
If you’d have unlimited cash, you were say Elon Musk. Would you buy up all passion fruit seeds to throw at this experiment? I think you’d drive the price up for other growers further s0uth, who then get less of a chance to do their screenings for the hardiest.
I believe it’s a bit of a responsability to get ones own seeds in masses while crossing maximally.
As well i’m interested what the growers say at EFN if you’d write to them and lay out the dilemma you’re facing. It could well be they’ve got surplusses (despite me preaching responsable buying) they want you to screen or know other northern growers to connect with.
We need community, that starts with cmmunicating thoughts and intentions.


That is a pretty interesting point, Hugo. I obviously don’t think buying some seed to increase quantity and genetic diversity is problematic, but I agree that you’re right. There is a responsibility, and it will probably ultimately be more likely to be effective anyway, to build up your own seed and draw from the community where possible.

I have not personally ever tasted maypops/passion fruit, but I am fascinated by them and did order some seed a while ago to hopefully get some of our own started here. (We’re in a much warmer climate than you are.)

This would definitely be a concern for some crops but I dont think im at risk of hogging all the maypop, except perhaps in the very limited context of the handful of other people like me trying to get their hands on the hardiest seed.

My understanding is that in less marginal climates, maypop is considered a weed, self seeding prolifically as well as spreading massive distances through rhizomatious roots. It is not grown commercially for fruit(despite producing edible passionfruit! In temperate climates!) because it doesnt travel or show well - ripe fruit drop to the ground and are brown and wrinkly and pop easily. Also because across most of its range, it is viewed as an annoying weed. Its only current commercial value is as a decorative annual plant around the edge of its hardiness range.

Alas, I am not Elon Musk and money is a factor. I can buy a seed packet and/or a potted maypop plant or two, which should be enough to pollinate the hardy specimen I have. My concern is my F2 would then be highly inbred, and have only one parent with proven hardiness.

Also perhaps worth clarifying, although they do muse about zone extention (and sell seeds from the northernmost edge of the native range) the EFN improvement project is focused on improving flavour and appearance of maypop fruit for future cultivation, and is restricted to growers in zones 6+.

Any other mad scientists trying to breed maypop in zone 5 or colder like me are also just tinkering on their own at this point (and I’d love to meet you <3)

People hate it with a passion hère. If grown against a south facing wall it can be problematic. I’ve eaten my. Neighbors but it didn’t have the taste. Looked great.They never fruited at their bouse until i brought another one into the garden.
I live in zone 6, i’d love to plant cold hardy ones.

I think you’re missing the point i’m trying to make. I’m only encouraging you to grow diverse, as many cold hardy traînéd differing plants that you do overwinter to get them through the first year.
Then plant them out, let them cross freely and mass seed theF1 provides you outside and sélect from those for an F2. Sometimes there’s horizontal inheribility going on.
But if you want to buy a lot of seeds, do it. Not my problem.

There was somebody else on hère or Permies doing similar.

Oh, I dont want to buy a bunch of seed. I wouldnt even have a place to plant more than a couple dozen plants.

I bought one packet last week after confirming I got one plant to survive a winter out of the packet I bought 3 years ago. Ideally I would like to start producing some fruit and seed this year for both culinary and breeding experiments, but with only one plant with proven hardiness I have a gene base problem, I think?

I’m also concerned that seeds started now won’t necessarily even make it to flower to pollinate my one hardy plant in time to set mature fruit/seed. That is a problem I could solve by just buying a nursery started maypop plant… but that would be an even more limited and dubiously hardy gene base?

If someone else has already made progress on maypop hardiness and has seeds from overwintered maypops in zone 5, or even an unsheltered 6a or lower, that would be a tremendous boost.

I have a real mixed track record trying to keep marginally hardy plants alive fully indoors over winter, but have considered just burying maypop roots in rubbermaid totes full of dirt and storing them in my enclosed front porch over winter, which is a reasonable approximation of a zone 8 or so. Thats definitely on the list of options for fall

Maypop seeds like many northern adapted plants require cold moist stratification for best germination. I put mine in a damp paper towel in a ziplock bag in the fridge for 90 days. You could also sow in flats in the fall and leave them outdoors for the winter.

I am also trying to grow maypops this year up in NE-US (5b). I haven’t ever grown them, but it was a consolation prize instead of growing passion fruit. I got my seed from EFN. I stratified them inside for a bit, then moved them to being directly seeded when we had a melt off a few weeks ago.

If any of them actually sprout and survive this year, I’ll happily share seed if they fruit.

Two plants with differing genetics should get you off to a decent start. They spread a lot unless they are in containers. And even then they might root at a node resting on the ground.

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