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How to Care for a Passion Flower Vine

Stunning purple passion flower with butterfly coming to visit

Genus Passiflora

Alright get ready. You’re about to learn about one of the best possible garden plants on the planet. They produce gorgeous and strange flowers, have an awesome climbing habit, and are far more cold hardy than you may expect considering their tropical appearance.

Let me introduce you to the genus passiflora (passifloraceae). This genus is comprised of over 550 flowering plant species with vary growth habits and growing ranges. Whether they grow as a vine, shrub, or tree, they will turn your property into a butterfly garden.

Spanish missionaries visiting Peru first found these plants and named them due to the sepals resembling a crucifix, and the “passion” is the term used to describe the final period of Jesus’ life.

Read on to learn all about where passion flowers come from, how to keep them happy, how to propagate a couple of your own, and some other uses that you may not have known about!

What do Passion Flower Plants Look Like?

Gorgeous purple passion flower vine with bright green leaves

Growth Habit

With there being around 550 different species within the genus passiflora, there is a great variety of growth habits that these plants can exhibit. They can grow as vines, shrubs, or small trees.

The most common growth habit is as a tendril bearing vining plant. These tendrils act as little suckers that help the plant attach to vertical surfaces. Plants can be either woody or herbaceous.

Passion flower plants are also very fast and rigorous growers. Species can be as little as 6 feet in height (or length), with many averaging out at 30 feet, with some extraordinary species that achieve lengths of over 60 feet!

Leaves

When growing in warmer climates, certain passion flower species grow as evergreens, meaning that they have leaves that will persist and remain green all year long. Whereas others will grow as deciduous species.

Again, the overall leaf shape and color will vary greatly according to species, but many of them will be deeply lobed and a deep green color.

Flowers

Passion vine plants are known for having incredibly unique flowers. They have a very unusual shape and even more unusual sepals and anthers.

Passion flowers are very showy flowers and are comprised of either 5 or 10 petals that are formed in a reflex circle. Their bloom time will vary from species to species, but when they do emerge their blooms will only last for about a day.

This may seem sad, but not all of the flowers bloom at one time, so there is a natural gradient of blooming that will occur throughout the season. Flower color is available in a variety including red, purple, blue, pink, and white.

What are some Passion Flower Species?

Close up of single purple passion flower in the garden

Purple Passionflower (Passiflora Incarnata)

The purple passion flower goes by several other names, including maypop, true passionflower, wild apricot, or wild passion vine. This is a wildflower species that is native to southern United States.

Passiflora incarnata is a very fast growing, climbing vine with trailing stems. It is one of the most cold hardy of the passiflora species and is also a very commonly cultivated garden plant.

P incarnata can be identified by its incredibly intricate flowers that are comprised of 5 purple and white flower petals. These flowers give way to juicy edible fruit filled with many seeds.

Blue Passionflower (Passiflora Caerulea)

The blue passionflower also goes by the names of bluecrown passion flower, or the common passion flower. This is a semi evergreen species that is native to South America.

Passiflora caerulea can be identified by its very fragrant leaves, and intricate flowers of light blue or white. These are very vigorous grows and can easily achieve 30 feet or more in length.

Passion Fruit (Passiflora Edulis)

The passion fruit vine is that passion flower species we all know and love that gives us the gift of passion fruit. This is a vining species that is native to southern Brazil, but grows prosperously all over tropical and subtropical regions.

Passiflora edulis is a perennial vine that is grown commercially all throughout South America and can also easily be grown as a garden specimen.

P edulis can be identified but its perennial vine growth habit, and gorgeous white flowers with green sepals. This passionflower vine will also produce a “pepo” edible fruit which is sweet and seedy.

Where are Passion Flowers Native Plants?

Amazing white blooming passion flowers in the garden

I have found throughout my gardening career, that learning where a plant comes from, really helps you understand how to keep it happy in other parts of the world. Considering how tropical looking passion flower vines are, they are shockingly cold hardy!

Passion flowers are native plants to southern North America, South America and Central America. The grow very prosperously throughout Mexico and the southern United States, and have become naturalized throughout southeast Asia and Oceania.

These are such vigorous growers that they can be found growing wild in almost any habitat. They can even be found growing along roadsides! A passion vine can even become an invasive species in warmer climates.

Passion flower plants can be grown outdoors all year round in USDA growing zones 5 through 9, but should be brought indoors for the cold winter months in all other zones.

What are the Ideal Growing Conditions of Passion Flower Plants?

Alright, now that you know all of the nitty gritty of passion flower plants, it’s time to learn how to care for them! These are not super picky plants, and passion flower care can easily be incorporated into your regular gardening routine.

Amazing climbing passion flower vine on brick wall

Soil Type

Though they are able to tolerate a bunch of different soil types, there are some characteristics that the soil should have in order to keep a passion flower plant super duper happy.

It is best that the soil type is very well draining. It should also be rich in nutrients and with a pH level between 6.1 and 7.5. This may seem complicated, but there is one simple thing you can do to achieve all of these qualities.

Compost! Incorporating some compost to the soil mix at the beginning of the growing season will achieve the perfect acidity level, it will improve drainage, and will also increase the nutrient content of the soil.

It is also a good idea to add a thick layer of mulch to the top soil around your plant if you happen to live in a colder region. This will help protect those roots in the early spring and late fall.

Water Level

Passion flower plants love to be moist. They are used to living in places that receive a lot of annual precipitation and also experience a lot of humidity.

It is best to maintain soil moisture, and it is very important to deeply water your plant right after you plant it. These plants are not drought tolerant by any means and will quickly wilt if they are exposed to drought.

It is best to water your passion flower vine 1 to 2 times per week during its growing season, and you can taper off a bit once fall and winter come around.

Amazing close up shot of gorgeous passion flower with yellow anthers

Sun Exposure

Achieving the right level of sun exposure for a passion flower plant can be a little bit tricky. They do like to experience direct sun exposure, but won’t like it in hotter regions.

The best rule of thumb is to plant your specimen in a place that receives direct sunlight in the morning, but goes into partial shade in the hotter part of the afternoon. This is especially important if you’re in a hot climate.

Temperature

Despite the fact that they look like tropical plants, passion flowers are remarkably cold tolerant! There are some species that can tolerate frost, but should be brought indoors if you experience a snowy winter.

These plants will do best in temperatures ranging between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and can handle the tail end of early spring and late fall.

Fertilizer

Passion flower plants are known as being pretty heavy feeders, and they will absolutely appreciate being given some fertilizer throughout their growing season.

Start in the early spring, and provide your plants with a general purpose fertilizer that is equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Fertilize the plant before the new growth comes in, and continue every 4-6 weeks until fall comes around.

Pruning

Pruning is an essential part of keeping your passion flower plant happy. They can get to be a little bit unruly at times, and pruning is the only way to keep them in check.

It important that pruning is done in the late winter or early spring. Prune before the new growth of the year is due, as they flower on their new spring growth.

How do you Propagate a Passion Flower Vine?

Beautiful growing white passion flower plant in a sunny garden

Now that you’re well equipped with all the necessary information on how to keep a passion flower vine happy, it is time for you to learn how to grow one of your very own! Propagation isn’t too tricky, and it can be done either through stem cuttings or by sowing seed.

Cuttings

1. Take your softwood cuttings in the late summer or early fall.

2. Use very sharp shears to cut a stem 4-6 inches below the leaf node. Strip the cutting of all of the lower leaves. Dip the cutting in root hormone.

3. Fill a small pot with some potting mix and push your cuttings 1 inch into the soil. Water thoroughly.

4. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag and make a couple of slits in it so allow the plant to breathe.

4. Place in a shaded spot and make sure to keep the potting mix moist at this stage.

5. After 3-4 weeks, gently tug at the cutting to see if it has taken root. Once it has, it can be transplanted into its permanent location.

Beautiful growing passion flower plant with purple flowers

Seed

1. Either purchase passion flower seed from a nursery or collect your own. Do this by letting the fruit of an already established plant ripen completely, and open the pods.

2. Remove the seeds, clean and dry them and store them in a dry place. When you are ready to start your germination process, nick the seeds outer shell and let them soak in warm water for 2 days. If any of the seeds float, that means they are not viable and should be thrown away.

3. Place the soaked seeds on the surface of most potting mix. Pat them gently but don’t cover them entirely as they require light for germination.

4. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag and seal it to retain moisture. Keep in a partial shade area that is warm. If you can apply extra heat from the body, it will speed up the germination process.

5. Keep the soil moist and the seeds should sprout in 10-20 days. Once they do appear, keep the seedlings out of direct sunlight until there are leaves.

6. Once there is full leaf growth, it is ready to be transplanted to its forever home!

How is Passion Flower Used?

Table with crushed passion flower foliage and flowers and cup of herbal tea

Ornamental Plant

Gardeners tend to love passion flowers for several reasons. Firstly, they are obviously incredibly gorgeous and provide a unique look to any green space, but they are also very easily trained.

Their neat little tendrils allow them to climb nearly any vertical surface, and they are often trained to grow up arbors, trellises, stone walls, and whatever else you can think of.

Wildlife Ecology

Another wonderful part of growing a passion flower plant is how good they are for the local wildlife ecology! Their foliage is an important source of nutrients for various lepidopteran species.

Pollinators are incredible attracted to passion flowers as well, which is important for the whole planet. Pollinating species like bumblebees, wasps, bats, hummingbirds, and butterflies are soon to visit your property.

Medicinal Plant

Something that not everyone is aware of about the passion flower plant, is that it has a valuable medicinal benefit to it as well!

According to both J Ethnopharmacol (which is the Journal of Ethnopharmacology) and Phytother Res (which is the peer reviewed journal of Phytotherapy research) their medicinal plant research has shown that passion flower extract can really help with issues like insomnia and anxiety.

However, for the sake of providing credit where credit is due, various Native American communities have incorporated using passion flower extract, fruit, and foliage into their health regimes for many centuries.

Focus on gorgeous white and purple passion flower blooming in the garden

FAQs

Are passion flowers deer resistant?

One of the main pitfalls of growing passion flower plants is that they are not entirely resistant to nibbling from larger pests like deer, squirrels, and rabbits. This is especially problematic for those species that grow delicious edible fruit and foliage.

What are the damaging agents to passion flower plants?

The greatest threat to a healthy passionflower vine is a soil borne disease called fusarium wilt. This is a bacteria that cannot be cured, and the infect plant needs to be removed before it is able to spread. The best way to prevent this disease is by ensuring the plant is in very well draining soil that does not become soggy.

Can a passion flower plant be grown indoors?

Passion flower plants can easily be grown indoors in containers or pots as long as they are provided an area in the home that receives the adequate amount of sunlight. Just remember that if it’s grown indoors it won’t be able to become pollinated and thus it won’t produce fruit.

Are passion flowers annuals or perennials?

The passion flower is a perennial vine that will continue to bloom year after year as long as its ideal growing conditions are maintained.

When do passion flowers bloom?

Passion flowers are very showy flowers and are comprised of either 5 or 10 petals that are formed in a reflex circle. Their bloom time will vary from species to species, but when they do emerge their blooms will only last for about a day.

This may seem sad, but not all of the flowers bloom at one time, so there is a natural gradient of blooming that will occur throughout the season. Flower color is available in a variety including red, purple, blue, pink, and white.

Do passion flower plants prefer full sun?

Achieving the right level of sun exposure for a passion flower plant can be a little bit tricky. They do like to experience direct sun exposure, but won’t like it in hotter regions.

The best rule of thumb is to plant your specimen in a place that receives direct sunlight in the morning, but goes into partial shade in the hotter part of the afternoon. This is especially important if you’re in a hot climate.

How tall do passion flower vines get?

With there being around 550 different species within the genus passiflora, there is a great variety of growth habits that these plants can exhibit. They can grow as vines, shrubs, or small trees.

The most common growth habit is as a tendril bearing vining plant. These tendrils act as little suckers that help the plant attach to vertical surfaces. Plants can be either woody or herbaceous.

Passion flower plants are also very fast and rigorous growers. Species can be as little as 6 feet in height (or length), with many averaging out at 30 feet, with some extraordinary species that achieve lengths of over 60 feet!

Do passion flowers need fertilizer?

Passion flower plants are known as being pretty heavy feeders, and they will absolutely appreciate being given some fertilizer throughout their growing season.

Start in the early spring, and provide your plants with a general purpose fertilizer that is equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Fertilize the plant before the new growth comes in, and continue every 4-6 weeks until fall comes around.

How often should a passion flower plant be watered?

Passion flower plants love to be moist. They are used to living in places that receive a lot of annual precipitation and also experience a lot of humidity.

It is best to maintain soil moisture, and it is very important to deeply water your plant right after you plant it. These plants are not drought tolerant by any means and will quickly wilt if they are exposed to drought.

It is best to water your passion flower vine 1 to 2 times per week during its growing season, and you can taper off a bit once fall and winter come around.

What USDA zone can a passion flower live in?

Passion flowers are native plants to southern North America, South America and Central America. The grow very prosperously throughout Mexico and the southern United States, and have become naturalized throughout southeast Asia and Oceania.

These are such vigorous growers that they can be found growing wild in almost any habitat. They can even be found growing along roadsides! A passion vine can even become an invasive species in warmer climates.

Passion flower plants can be grown outdoors all year round in USDA growing zones 5 through 9, but should be brought indoors for the cold winter months in all other zones.

Does passionflower extract help with insomnia and anxiety?

According to both J Ethnopharmacol (which is the Journal of Ethnopharmacology) and Phytother Res (which is the peer reviewed journal of Phytotherapy research) their medicinal plant research has shown that passion flower extract can really help with issues like insomnia and anxiety.

However, for the sake of providing credit where credit is due, various Native American communities have incorporated using passion flower extract, fruit, and foliage into their health regimes for many centuries.

Can you grow a passion flower from seed?

Though it is a little bit more time consuming, one can grow a passion flower plant from seed. The seeds will need to be collected, dried, stratified, soaked, and take a few weeks in order to germinate.

What is the ideal soil type for a passion flower plant?

Though they are able to tolerate a bunch of different soil types, there are some characteristics that the soil should have in order to keep a passion flower plant super duper happy.

It is best that the soil type is very well draining. It should also be rich in nutrients and with a pH level between 6.1 and 7.5. This may seem complicated, but there is one simple thing you can do to achieve all of these qualities.

Compost! Incorporating some compost to the soil mix at the beginning of the growing season will achieve the perfect acidity level, it will improve drainage, and will also increase the nutrient content of the soil.

It is also a good idea to add a thick layer of mulch to the top soil around your plant if you happen to live in a colder region. This will help protect those roots in the early spring and late fall.

Does a passion flower vine need to be pruned?

Pruning is an essential part of keeping your passion flower plant happy. They can get to be a little bit unruly at times, and pruning is the only way to keep them in check.

It important that pruning is done in the late winter or early spring. Prune before the new growth of the year is due, as they flower on their new spring growth.