There are over 400 species of tropical passion flowers (Passiflora spp.) with sizes ranging from ½ inch to 6 inches across. They are found naturally from South America through Mexico. Early missionaries to these regions used the distinctly colored patterns of the flower parts to teach about the passion of Christ; hence the name.
Passion Flower gained its name from the unique structure of its flowers and their symbolic importance. According to the plant’s original catalogers, each of the flower’s structures is religious in nature: the corolla reflects Christ’s crown of thorns, the five stamens are the five wounds in his hands, feet, and side, and the three stigmata are for the nails that were used to nail Christ to the cross.
Whatever their religious significance, there is no question that passion flowers are beautiful and strange, especially the most commonly grown houseplant, the P. caerulea. But make no mistake: growing a successful passion flower is a bit like grabbing a tiger’s tail. They are robust, rampant vines under ideal conditions that may need frequent pruning to stay well behaved.
Tips for Passion Flower Care
Their vibrant colors and heady fragrance make the passion flower plant a welcome addition to any garden. Unfortunately, because of its origins, most species of passion flower plants can’t overwinter in many gardens in the United States, although there are a few that will survive up to USDA plant hardiness zone 5.
Most varieties will grow in Zones 7-10. Because they are vines, the best place for growing passion flowers is along a trellis or fence. The tops will be killed off during winter, but if you mulch deeply, your passion flower plant will return with new shoots in the spring. Since growing passion flowers can reach 20 feet in a single season, this dieback will help keep the vine under control. According to Deltona arborists for gardening services, tropical passion flowers need full sun and well-drained soil. Two applications of a well-balanced fertilizer per year, once in early spring and one in mid-summer are all the passion flower care you’ll need.
- Light: Bright light, especially during the summer growing season. The full sun is preferable in the summer, with as much light as you can give during the winter.
- Water: Keep the plants moist at all times during the growing season, and you might have to water larger plants twice a day in the heat. During winter, reduce watering but don’t let them dry out.
- Temperature: Warm in summer (household temperatures are fine) and colder in winter months (down to 50˚F at night). They are generally hardy, and even if they die back to the soil, they will likely recover next spring.
- Soil: A rich, fast-draining mix is ideal.
- Fertilizer: Fertilize adequately during the growing season, with controlled-release fertilizer and liquid fertilizer.
Passion flower is easy to propagate with leaf-tip cuttings. Take cuttings in the spring. Strip off a few leaves to expose nodes and bury the cutting in moist seedling starting soil.
Repot young plants every spring into a larger pot. Older plants can be stretched out every few years between repotting. To control their size, it’s best to cut your passionflower down in the fall, leaving only a few vines between 15″ and 20″ long in the pot. Be aware, however, that plants trimmed in this way will still need to be repotted or at least refreshed.
There are several varieties of passion flower. In subtropical and tropical regions, these are used as butterfly and landscape plants, and collectors pride themselves on large collections. Indoors, however, by far the most commonly grown passion flower is the blue and purple Passiflora caerulea, which has a number of named hybrids. The P. incarnata also features blue flowers, with a more frilly appearance. Red passion flowers include the P. manicata. In general, the blue passion flowers are a bit more well-behaved in comparison to the red flowering species, which can be monstrously aggressive growers.
Passion flower vines have deeply lobed leaves with flowers that hang or peek out from the leaves.
How to Grow Passionflowers Indoors
Here are some easy steps on how to grow passion flower indoors. Read on…
If you live in an area where winters are too harsh for tender passion flower care, don’t despair. Growing passion flowers indoors is as easy as finding a big pot and a window with bright light. Plant your vine in a rich commercial indoor potting soil and keep it uniformly moist, not wet. Move your plant outdoors after all danger of frost is past and let your vine run wild. Come fall, cut back the growth to a reasonable height and bring it back indoors. Knowing how to grow passion vine is all it takes to bring a little of the tropics to your patio or porch.