by Saffyre Falkenberg
Passionflowers, also known as passiflora, passion flowers, and passion vines, include approximately 500 different species of plant. Most of these plants are vines, though some are shrubs and others are herbs. Certain types of passionflower native to South America produce passion fruit , which is a sweet fruit with juicy flesh and numerous seeds prized for its tropical flavors. South African varieties produce a fruit called granadilla, a popular flavor throughout the region.
Passionflowers, in addition to being cultivated for fruit, have also long been used in traditional medicine. Native American tribes throughout North America used the leaves and roots to treat insomnia, among other conditions. Nowadays, many people use it as a natural remedy for anxiety, as it has been shown to have a calming effect.
However, few studies have researched the health effects of passionflower, and it can cause adverse reactions when combined with other herbs or medicines—so be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning treatment. Additionally, passionflower is not safe for pregnant people to use medicinally, as it can stimulate contractions.
Growing Conditions for Passionflowers
Most types of passionflowers will be perennial in zones six through10. They will likely need winter protection in zone six and will die off for the winter in zones below six, though they will return in the spring months.
As the majority of passionflowers are vines, you will need a trellis or fence for the plant to climb. Because they are native to tropical areas of South America, they prefer full sun to partial shade. In especially harsh, hot environments, the plant will do best with some shade during the hottest parts of the day.
The soil should be well-drained but full of compost or manure. Passionflower plants do not handle drought well, so be sure to keep the soil moist but not wet. They also prefer soil of a neutral pH.
How to Plant Passionflowers
You can plant passionflowers from seeds or from transplants and grow them either indoors or outdoors.
If sprouting from seeds, make sure to clean them thoroughly, and soak them in warm water for one to two days. You should plant the seeds that sink to the bottom, and throw away the ones that float. Press the seeds into moist potting soil, but don’t cover them with the soil—they need the light to grow.
In order to increase your chances of seeds sprouting, put the pot into a plastic bag to retain moisture, and heat the bag from the bottom with a heating pad set to low, or place on top of a refrigerator. Make sure the soil is always moist.
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for the plants to sprout. When seeds do germinate, keep them out of direct sunlight until the plants have leaves. Avoid handling or transplanting until specimens have several sets of leaves.
When transplanting your sprouted seedlings or passionflowers you have purchased, make sure to dig a hole deep enough for their roots. Plant them in a mixture of half native soil and half compost. The young plants need something to climb on as they grow, so make sure they are near a trellis or a fence.
You can also leave your passionflowers in a pot and grow them indoors to avoid them dying out in the cold winter months. They still need a trellis or some type of support, however.
Care of Passionflowers
Passionflowers do not tolerate drought well, so make sure to keep the plants evenly moist, especially during the growing season. In the fall and winter, you can begin light watering. To support your passionflowers, apply fertilizer twice a year. This should be done once in the early spring and once in midsummer. The plant does not need to be pruned, but pruning can help encourage the growth of a fuller plant or keep the growth in check. You do not need to deadhead passionflowers.
If growing passionflowers indoors, make sure the sunlight is bright but indirect. It should not drop below 50 degree Fahrenheit in your home. Plants will go dormant during the winter, but they should come back to life again in the spring.
If you grow your passionflowers in a pot, you can place the container outdoors during the warm months and move it inside during the winter. Make sure to replace the pot with a larger one every spring to ensure that your plants have room to grow.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Passionflowers
The warmer and more tropical the climate, the more pests seem to bother passionflowers. Some common garden pests that might be troublesome to passionflowers include scales , spider mites, mealybugs, and whiteflies. To find solutions to dealing with these garden pests naturally, try some of the methods in to keep pests out of the garden.
The most common diseases to affect passionflowers are of the fungal variety. These fungal infections can cause leaf spotting. To slow the spread of the disease, remove and dispose of the affected leaves.
Passionflower blooms come in a variety of shades depending on the specific type of plant, and blooms are vivid and showy. The individual blooms on passionflower plants only last a day or two before dying and dropping off.
If growing passionflowers for their fruit, you will know when it is ripe when it falls to the ground. Passion fruit is not usually harvested directly from the vine. Additionally, it is difficult to know when to expect a passion fruit harvest because the fruits will ripen at different times of the year, depending on the climate. Your plants can produce passion fruit any time from early fall to winter, depending on where you live.
Keep the area around the passionflowers clear to make it easier to see the fruit when it drops off the vine. Fruit that is slightly wrinkled will be much sweeter than smooth-textured specimens. The fruits should be plump and have a slight give. If you want to harvest directly from the vine, twist the fruits gently to remove them. Unripe passion fruit will not ripen once removed from the vine, but ripe fruit will develop a sweeter taste if left uneaten for a few days.
Passionflower Varieties to Grow in Your Home Garden
There are over 500 different types of passionflowers, but these following varieties are most recommended for the home garden:
- Maypop: This passionflower is native to many parts of the southeastern U.S. It is often used medicinally.
- Passiflora caerulea: This variety of passionflower has deep blue blooms and is most often grown indoors.
- Passiflora edulis: This species of passionflower is most usually grown for the fruit.
- Ruby Glow: This variety has long flowers, deep red leaves, and purple filaments. It is one of the most fragrant types of passionflower.