Looking after your Passion Flower

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Passion Flower - Passiflora caerulea

The history of the Passiflora

During the 17th century, Spanish missionaries stationed in South America used the flowers of this tropical climber to illustrates certain facets of the passion of Christ. The petals and sepals number many of the Apostles (minus Peter and Judas, who were absent during the Crucifixion) and the blue filaments, the crown of thorns. Some varieties such as Passiflora incarnata yield edible fruit and have fed native Indians for thousands of years. Although it is still used as a commercial fruiting crop, the Passiflora, or Passion Flower has become a favourite ornamental climber in many gardens around the world. The Passiflora is the national flower of Paraguay.

The hardy caerulea

Here in the UK, due to climate change, Passiflora caerulea can be easily grown in all but the most northerly parts. It carries showy white and blue flowers above glossy palmate five-lobed leaves for much of the summer until the first frosts. It is not strictly evergreen, but will keep most of it’s leaves during a milder winter.

The orange fruit of the Passiflora caerulea is edible, but doesn’t really taste of much and is best left hanging on the vines as an attractive addition point of interest. Bees and other nectar-feeding insects will frenzy on the profuse flowers, so a good addition to a wildlife-friendly garden.

Pruning

Pruning a Passiflora is best done at the start of the growing season during spring. It is not advisable to prune your plant later in the year and avoid cutting thicker, wood stems as the Passiflora will not easily re-shoot from such areas. Remove all dead stems with a sharp secateurs to avoid mould and disease.

Feeding

Passifloras require only a minimal amount of care and will happily seek out nutrients by themselves. However, your plants will do well with the occasional high-potassium feed. They especially like tomato feed.

Other varieties to try

P. Perfume Passion

Exotic passion flowers that pervade the air with the sweet scent of Jasmine. The glamorous, purple blooms are followed by inedible egg-shaped, orange passion fruits that make a fascinating feature in late summer.

This spectacular evergreen and tropical climber is best grown in a frost-free conservatory or greenhouse, where temperatures remain above 5°C (41°F).

For a stunning specimen outdoors, grow Passiflora ‘Perfume Passion’ in large patio containers which can be moved to a frost free position over winter. Height: 4m (13″). Spread: 2m (6″).

P. incarnata

Delightful sweet scented 8cm (3in) flowers of mauve/pink and white.

Free flowering from June to September and can be treated as a hardy, herbaceous plant in sheltered gardens.

P. ‘Pink Passion’

From the very latest advances in breeding comes this spectacular climber. The exquisite, pink blooms are followed by inedible egg-shaped, orange passion fruits that make a fascinating feature in late summer.

This exotic evergreen climber is best grown in a frost-free conservatory or greenhouse, where temperatures remain above 5°C (41°F).

For a stunning specimen outdoors, grow Passiflora ‘Pink Passion’ in large patio containers which can be moved to a frost free position over winter. Height: 4m (13″). Spread: 2m (6″).

P. ‘Azure Passion’

From the very latest advances in breeding comes this spectacular climber.

The exquisite blooms of Passiflora ‘Azure Passion’ are followed by inedible egg-shaped, orange passion fruits that make a fascinating feature in late summer.

Tropical climber is perfectly hardy and grows equally well in a conservatory or against a sunny wall outside. Height: 4m (13″). Spread: 2m (6″).

P. alata (Winged-Stem)

Attractive and sweetly scented 10cm (4in) flowers of purple/white and crimson.

Flowering spring through to autumn in a heated conservatory or greenhouse. Edible fruits, popular in Brazilian markets.

2 thoughts on “Looking after your Passion Flower

  1. I, too am a fan of this plant, and enjoy growing it, it boasts a great look around the garden. The flower itself is eye-catching, especially with a few more accompanied with it!

  2. I’ve been growing Passiflora caerulea now for the past 25 years and I’m still not bored of it! I forgot to add in the post though – once established, the Passion Flower grows incredibly fast and loves to take centre stage…so be warned and prune every spring!

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