Purple Passion Flower (Passiflora Incarnata) Care and Benefits
There are hundreds of different species in the passionflower family, all of them absolutely gorgeous.
Aside from their beauty, they have a whole host of medicinal benefits that make them a double-whammy in your garden.
Read on to learn exactly how to grow, care for, and use the purple passion flower.
Passiflora Incarnata Overview
|Common Name(s)||Purple passion vine, purple passion flower, passionflower, holy trinity flower, apricot vine, may pops|
|Scientific Name||Passiflora incarnata|
|Origin||The southern united states|
|Height||Up to 25 feet long|
|Humidity||Moderate to high|
|Soil||Peat moss-based potting mix|
|Fertilizer||Feed every two weeks in the spring with a fertilizer diluted by half, and once a month in the winter|
|Propagation||Take 3-4 inch stems, cut just below where the leaf is attached to it, place in moist soil and keep sealed for the first couple of weeks|
|Pests||Root knot nematode, fungus that causes fusarium wilt, cucumber mosaic, bacterial spots|
The purple passion flower is a fast growing vine that can reach up to 20 feet or more. Both the fruits and flowers are edible on some varieties and many food items are made from the plant.
The unique flowers are about three inches wide and they have several petals accented with a purple fringe. The wonderful fragrance this plant gives off resembles that of carnations. The fruits, called may pops, are generally about two inches in size and are ripe when the fruit turns yellow. The fruits taste like a guava. To be fully ripe for eating, the fruits should fall off naturally.
The Passionflower has large leaves that can reach 5 or 6 inches long and they have serrated edges. They generally have from three to five lobes that alternate along the stem. Flowers bloom where the leaf stem is attached to the vine. Passiflora incarnata really needs something to climb on, and look great at fences or running up a trellis.
Types of Purple Passion Flower
There are numerous species of the passionflower, most of which are tender tropical vines. Passiflora incarnata is different in that it is a deciduous plant and will survive through winter freezes!
Purple Passion Vine Care
This plant grows from the roots and can quickly take over a whole area. Make sure that you plant this one in an area that won't be affected by the plant spreading, or where you'll still be able to mow the lawn.
Butterflies love this gorgeous flower, but keep in mind, so do bees! Although, the plant is generally pest free, you may find that the caterpillars love to eat them!
Passionflowers love full sunlight, but it don't do very well on really hot days and needs a little shade. The plant should be planted where it will only get direct sun about half of the day.
Purple passion flower does best when it is given a lot of water and then allowed to just slightly dry out before watering again.
If you over winter the plant, gradually stop watering and trim the plant when the foliage dies. In the spring when new growth starts to appear, the normal watering schedule should be resumed.
A good quality garden or potting soil will work fine for this gorgeous vine. Just make sure that the roots have plenty of drainage. These vines have shallow roots and a thick layer of organic mulch can really help the plant flourish.
Although passionflowers prefer to be in sandy, well draining, fertile soil, they will grow in heavier soils that contain clay. Here's a simple soil recipe for passionflowers:
- 2 parts loam
- 2 parts peat
- 1 part perlite or sand
A well balanced fertilizer can be used every four months. It should supply the plant with phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium.
Because passiflora incarnata is a vining plant and a fast grower, you may want to prune it from time to time. Here are a few good reasons to prune:
- You want to bring an older vine back to life
- You want to promote better growth next year
- You want to train a young passionflower vine
The best time to prune your purple passion flower is in late winter. The plant won't be growing much, so any pruning won't affect the growth of the plant or shock the plant at all.
First, prune any obviously dead plant material. Then, remove all stems except ones that have plenty of buds. As a general rule, do not remove more than 33% of the plant's total size, otherwise you risk killing your plant.
There are three main ways to propagate the passionflower: by layering, from seed, and from cuttings.
To propagate passionflower from cuttings, take 6" cuttings from your plants. It's important to take them from mature plants, often in the fall.
You can root them in a variety of growing mediums, but perlite, sand, or vermiculite work well. While you can use a rooting hormone to speed up the process, it's not absolutely necessary.
Layering is a great way to propagate passionflower, especially if you don't have to keep track of all of your cuttings until they're rooted and ready to transplant.
To layer, just take the leaves off of a stem section and then bury the stem under the soil. Place a stone or pin on top to keep the stem underneath the soil. If you water the stem section well, it should root in 2-3 weeks.
Take an over-ripe seed pod from an existing plant and separate the seeds from the pod. Clean thoroughly and allow the seeds to dry. All the fleshy coating on the outside of the seeds must be removed. As a sidenote, you can eat the aril, which is the gelatinous covering around the seed. It's quite tasty.
Let the seeds dry in a dark, warm place. When spring comes, soak them for a few days and then plant them in relatively sandy soil.
Be forewarned: passionflower seeds can take almost a year to germinate.
Speeding Up Passionflower Germination
The seeds contain a chemical that naturally slows their germination. Cool, moist soil, slowly removes this chemical. But, you can pretreat them and induce faster germination. It's best to just forget about them after you plant them and be pleasantly surprised when they do show up a year down the road.
Success has been met when the seeds were soaked for 24 hours in 5% ethanol cider, changed every 12 hours. Faster germination has also been accomplished by an overnight soaking in gibberellic acid.
Harvesting and Using
Unlike most of the ornamental plants I cover on Epic Gardening, you can actually harvest and use purple passion flowers!
Harvesting Your Passionflower
Harvesting is best done in fall. To harvest, simply strip off the leaves of the plant. You must then dry them using one of the following methods:
- Use a food dehydrator
- Use a drying screen
- Place them outside in a paper bag
Once the leaves have dried, place them in a cool, dark area in a container that is airtight.
Aside from the raw beauty of the passionflower, they confer a whole host of medicinal benefits if you use them properly.
For many years it was used in over-the-counter sleep drugs, but became less popular in the late 1970s / early 1980s. US pharmaceutical companies were less interested than their European counterparts in studying the plant.
As a sleep aid, it can work well on its own, but is best used in conjunction with a few other herbs that are well-known to promote restful sleep:
- Valerian root
According to WebMD, the generally-accepted benefits of passionflower include:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Menopausal symptoms
- Pain relief
- ...and much more
As you can see, passionflower is possibly effective for a wide variety of conditions, although there isn't as much research into its properties as there needs to be to be fully confident in some of its effects.
That said, it's safe for use for almost everyone if taken orally in small doses. It's not recommended to take for longer periods of time due to some potentially toxic substances that are safe in small amounts, but not large concentrations.
Goal: Outline the different problems that can occur when growing this plant and how to combat them. Can be broken into three subsections: growing problems, pests, and diseases. revent and/or combat them.
Open with a few sentences on how prone this plant is to pests, diseases, and problems. Then, go into the specifics:
Overall, passionflower is resistant to most diseases and pests, but there are a few that can give it some trouble.
Aphids are the most troublesome pest for passionflower vines.
Aside from the common diseases that affect most plants, your passiflora incarnata may suffer from root knot nematode. This causes the roots to thicken to the point of killing the plant entirely.
To avoid root knot nematode, it's best to avoid the purple-fruited subspecies and opt for the yellow-fruited subspecies...these ones are more acidic and resistant to this affliction.
Goal: To answer common problems and questions about planting, caring for, harvesting, or storing this plant.
Q. There are so many varieties of passionflower, which should I choose?
A. Some good varieties to choose are P. mooreana, P. karwinskii, and P. 'Guglielmo Betto'.
Q. What is the history of the passionflower?
A. The name "passionflower" comes from the passion of the Christ. Missionaries named it as such because the three stamens of the flower represent the wounds of Christ, and the 12 petals represent the 12 apostles. The corona of the plant also is symbolic of the crown of thorns.