Passiflora is a beautiful plant commonly known as the passion flower or passion vine. Passiflora contains around 576 species with native ranges throughout the southern United States and Mexico as well as Central and South America.
The Passiflora flower has an intricate structure – despite the delicacy of the flower there is nothing delicate about the plant. You might think it is their beauty that leads to the name, but in fact it is a reference to Christ on the cross – with the filaments resembling a crown of thorns, the three stigmas the nails, and the five anthers his wounds. In non-Christian cultures, the flowers have other meanings: a likeness to clocks in Israel and Japan and a symbol of Krishna in India.
Give Passifloras a wire or trellis support. They are self-clinging tendril climbers but can benefit from some training if you like a neat plant. It is a rampant climber which will outgrow its welcome if it is not cut back hard each spring. The stems of Passiflora bear deeply-lobed leaves, tendrils and short-lived flowers all summer long.
There are several Passifloras, including the Granadilla (P. quadrangularis) which bears large yellow fruit, but only P. caerulea is grown as a house plant. ‘Giant Granadilla’ has edible fruit, and it has incredible fragrant flowers with red petals and white-and-violet banded filaments that curl at the ends. The common P. caerulea will produce fruit, but while not poisonous, they are not tasty.
Secrets of success
Temperature: Average warmth. Keep at 40° – 50°F in winter.
Light: Choose sunniest spot available.
Water: Keep compost moist at all times; may need daily watering in summer. Reduce watering in winter.
Air humidity: Mist leaves occasionally.
Soil: Passifloras like a well-drained, not particularly fertile soil.
Repotting: Repot in spring every year.
Propagation: Take stem cutting in summer. Sow seeds in spring.