How to Grow Passion Flowers
Passion flowers are extraordinary and unique plants, also known as passion vines, maypop, apricot vine or passiflora.
The plant gets its name from the passion of Christ, or the time He went through suffering which resulted in the agony of death, in order to offer and provide salvation to the world.
Missionaries from long ago named the flower such because they believed parts of the flower were symbolic of the suffering of the Savior.
The flower itself is primarily the vines, although a small number are herbaceous, while others are shrubs.
Some people wrongly think of the passion flower as a common weed growing along the roadside because it can be found growing wild in many fields and ditches in the Southeastern part of the United States.
In fact it is an amazing flower that belongs in any yard where it can grow, especially the vining passion flowers, which put on an extraordinary display when landscaped correctly.
Passion Flower Photo
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Vining Passion Flowers
We're going to focus on vining passion flowers in this article, since that's mostly what people will grow and work very well in landscaping designs.
With that in mind, vining flowers can present a challenge, especially a hardy one like passion flowers which can become invasive if not attended to.
Since that's relatively easy, it's not something that should keep a gardener from placing some in the yard or garden. You can't just leave them grow for several seasons without checking them and occasionally removing new growth or pruning them.
Most herbaceous plants have very small flowers, but the passion flowers has an enormous, gorgeous flowers that will make any gardener proud.
When to Plant Passion Flowers
The best time to plant passion flower is in the early spring. They will grow fairly quickly and should begin to bloom sometime in July, on through to frost.
Passion flowers are considered hardy from USDA zones 5-9, although there area always exceptions to these zones, and they can be grown in pots in colder regions.
Where to Grow Passion Flowers
Passion flowers can thrive in just about any well-drained soil. So when
thinking of where you want to plant it, it's more of a landscaping and aesthetic decision than it is one of the quality of the soil.
This doesn't mean soil can't be improved where you plant your passion flower, just that it thrives in areas in the wild where nothing is done to amend the soil and they do great.
The one major factor is to grow it in full sun if you can, although it can take partial shade if that's all that's available.
Also keep in mind some varieties will grow from 15' to 30' long, so supports of some type will be needed, or if you like the look, you can let them grow, meandering among other parts of the garden in a controlled manner.
How to Grow Passion Flowers
There are three ways to grow passion flowers: from seed, layering or cuttings.
If you choose the seed route, you will have to be patient as they can take up to a year to germinate.
Cutting from the plant don't take so long, although it will take approximately three months or more for it to begin to root.
Another way to propagate passion flowers is through an offshoot of cuttings called layering.
Here you take the leaves off a part of a stem and place the stem or stems in the ground. You place it about an inch down into the soil, using something with a little weight to hold it in place until it starts to take root. If you water it on a consistent basis, the stems should root in about a month or so.
You can leave them to winter by mulching them and they will be ready to tranplant where you want them in the spring.
Propagating Passion Flowers Through Cuttings
To propagate passion flowers via cuttings, cut a piece about six or seven inches long from a mature plant in the fall and place them in a mix.
If you're new to propagating through cuttings, you may want to use a rotting hormone, although these hardy plant can root well without it; although it can help.
Take your cuttings before the first frost. Depending on where you live, you may want to take your cuttings inside during the winter and transplant them in the spring.
Propagating Passion Flower from Seed
As mentioned earlier, it must be taken into consideration that passion flower seeds won't germinate until about a year after being sowed. If you don't mind waiting, it is a viable alternative to the other methods, especially if you don't have any passion flower plants around to take cuttings from or layer with.
Having said that, if you do have passion flower plants but still prefer to use seeds as the method of propating them, remove the seeds from the plant and dry them in a dark, warm place.
When they're ready, the next step is to soak your passion flower seeds for about 12 hours in warm water before sowing them.
Spring is the best time to sow passion flower seeds, so place them in your chosen mix and be ready for to wait.
As mentioned, it takes up to a year for the seeds to germinate, but they can emerge quicker. Either way, it will take some time before they germinate; longer than usual for most plants.
How to Hand Pollinate Your Passion Flower
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Planting Passion Flowers
When planting passion flower it's best to dig a deep hole and fill with organic material such as sand or other material. I would say at least five or six inches deep, or even a little more.
Because passion flowers thrive even in poor soils, you don't have to do too much here. You just want to be sure it drains well.
Other than that, that's all there is to successfully planting this hardy vine.
Caring for Passion Flowers
While you need to have good drainage for the passion flower, it still likes to be kept moist. Just don't let the soil get soggy, and keep an eye on it during the hotter months for best results.
Passion flowers also prefer more potassium as far as fertilizing goes, with a smaller, but healthy dose of nitrogen. It doesn't need as much phosporus, so a fertilizer with 10-5-20, or something close to that works well.
You only need to fertilize once in the spring and again about two months later.
For colder regions like zone 5, mulch your plant to protect it during the cooler winter months.
If your passion flower does get some frost damage, other than being unsightly, it won't hurt the plant as it'll come back when the spring season arrives. You'll just have to do some trimming to get it looking better.
Growing Passion Flower in Containers
We've already covered propagating passion flowers, including in a container, so we'll look now at how to maintain them in a container and some things you can practice or do with the plant when potted.
First of all, contrary to outside, it's best to have indirect light for a passion flower grown in a pot, rather than full sun, when grown indoors in a container.
Just like outside though, the plant needs to be kept moist but not soggy. Don't let it dry out too much or it'll cause problems for the potted plant.
Another practice some partake in is to plant the entire pot into the ground when spring comes in colder areas. When winter approaches the gardeners will then cut back the vines, remove it from the ground, and take it into the house until spring.
Fruit of the Passion Flower
The passion flower comes with a secondary benefit: a wonderful oval fruit.
Most passion flower fruit is fairly small. A good way to compare it would be to think of it as being slighlty smaller in size than a kiwi fruit.
People eat these from the vine when they ripen, or use them to make things like jelly. It does contain a lot of seeds.
Some varieties produce a larger fruit with a more round look.
Passion Flower Fruit
Passion Flower as a Medicine
In Europe, especially Germany, the passion flower is used for medicinal purposes. It is mostly used at this time for relaxation and as an aid to sleeping.
Back in the 1970s it used to be a regular ingredient used in over the counter drugs to help people sleep. Apparently the lack of research resulted in it being considered more negative in the United States. It's hard to tell because of the government, big pharma battle against the use of herbs as remedies, many times because it would eat into the profits of pharmaceutical companies.
You wonder why there aren't more studies in the U.S. concerning the use of the passion flower in medicine since it's decades since it was so popular.
Some people will take the leaves of the passion flower and make a tea out of them to help them to sleep.
Like anything, you do have to be careful as it can have side effects or may interact unfavorably with other medications if you're taking them.
Harvesting Passion Flower
For those wanting to harvest the leaves of the passion flower, you simply take them off of the plant and dry them out.
Any type of method will work, although using a dehydrator is by far the quickest if you're in a hurry.
Other ways are to place the leaves on a screen and allow them to dry. Another is to lay them out in a single layer in a paper bag and hang it outside. Anything that allows airflow or absorbtion will work to dry the leaves.
When the leaves dry out you can put them in a cool, dark area in an airtight container.
There are so many things to like about the passion flower, and benefits as well.
In the end though, it's those large, beautiful flowers cascading along the vines of the flower that are the most attractive element of the plant.
You can train them along a trellis, fence, or any support system. Some gardeners even let them flow along, around and on top of some of their hedges and shrubs to add some color to them. It's almost like having Christmas lights in the day.
It is almost endless the number of ways you can use this versatile vining plant as a landscaping tool to spice up your yard and garden, and anyone growing it will soon be thankful they added it to their garden and landscaping repetroire.