Passiflora Passion flower – Soil needs.

A balanced diet

Just like us Passiflora or passion flower plants need a balanced diet. The essentials for ourselves are carbohydrates, proteins, oils & fats, vitamins, minerals, water & air. In contrast plants only need minerals, water & air. Plant needs are simpler as the leaves can absorb light energy from the sun using carbon dioxide & water to produce sugars from which all their other organic molecules can then be synthesized. All their other needs are met by uptake of minerals & water by the roots from the soil. Different Passionflowers have varying soil mix needs. Read more

Soil constituents

Soil is an infinitely variable mix of broken down & weathered rock & mineral fragments mixed with air & water. It also contains nematodes, fungi, mites, algae, lichen, bacteria, dead organic animal & plant material & earthworms. Water contamination can lead to an accumulation of toxic metals in the soil.

Soil bacteria

Roger Highfield, Science Editor Daily Telegraph reports on 31/8/05

”The world has become a significantly more crowded place. Scientists report today that soil teems with around 100 times more species than they had previously thought.

The work at the Los Alamos national laboratory in New Mexico means that a thimbleful of soil typically contains at least one million bacterial species, rather than just 10,000.

The implications were described as “staggering” by Dr Bill Sloan, of the University of Glasgow, and Prof Tom Curtis, of the University of Newcastle, in the journal Science. They argued that new mathematical methods were needed to understand the vast diversity of life on Earth.

The scientists estimate that in a garden with a ton of soil there are about 10,000 trillion single-celled organisms called prokaryotes.

That compares with a mere 100 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

“This makes exploring the biodiversity of soil more like astronomy, or Star Trek,” Dr Sloan said.

The higher estimate has come from a new method of calculating species diversity from soil DNA developed at Los Alamos. One finding is that toxic metals such as lead kill more of the less abundant species than previously thought. The team compared normal and polluted soils and its results indicate that toxic metals cause a diversity loss of roughly 99 per cent.”

Earthworms

These humble invertebrates, which are found worldwide, are the most important of the soils many inhabitants. They eat both decaying plant & animal organic matter. Some also eat the soil itself & some eat nematodes. Their casts (which are even sold at $0.90 a pound as organic compost) concentrate nutrients & they also aerate the soil, decrease acidity & improve soil structure. Deep digging of your garden soil is for the most part a waste of time, unless it is prior to putting your plants in to improve drainage and add compost. Bearing in mind the fairly shallow & relatively small root systems of Passiflora, anything more than a light fork can do a lot of damage or even kill your plants as it will cause shock & allows easy access for fungus infections. Leave it to the experts! To quote Charles Darwin,

”It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organised creatures.” 

Fertilizer

The soil may provide adequate quantities of the required elements or may be deficient in one or more. Fertilizers are used to compensate for deficiencies. Read more