Native to Brazil and Argentina, the passion flower vine is a truly eye-catching addition to any yard. With thick, grasping vines, dark green leaves and brilliant flowers, this plant charms not only humans, but butterflies as well. The passion flower vine comes in many varieties and colors--from light pinks and reds to dramatic purples. Some produce edible fruit.
Host plants are a necessary element in a butterfly garden. Butterflies need proximity to two types of plants, those which provide food in the form of nectar (nectar plants) and those which provide food to their offspring, in the form of leaves (host plants). Female butterflies generally lay eggs on the underside of the leaves of host plants. This is to ensure that eggs are protected from predators. Tiny larvae emerge within two weeks and commence eating the leaves. Caterpillars are small to begin with, but grow quickly. They too, will soon become a chrysalis and the process will begin again.
Butterflies do best on plants that get at least five to six hours of sun daily. They thrive in a sunny, warm area and avoid windy areas which may dislocate them from plant leaves. Flat stones in the sun will attract butterflies who want to take a break in a warm spot. Butterflies require water. Providing a water source is a nice gesture and a way of keeping your winged friends near. It is a good idea for butterflies to have access to nectar plants, as well.
Once caterpillars hatch from their eggs the host plant becomes their source of food. For this reason, pesticide use should not be used if the plant is to be a host plant.
Passion Vine Growth Requirements
The passion vine requires moderate water, well-drained soil and full to partial sun. This vine needs a support to grow on. A suitable fertilizer is necessary. Vines should be pruned in the fall or spring to remove deadwood.
Common Host Butterflies
The passion vine is a host plant to the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, Julia butterfly and the Zebra Longwing butterfly. The Gulf Fritillary butterfly is orange and black with large white markings on its wings. The caterpillars are orange and black. The male Julia butterfly is a pumpkin orange color, while the female tends more towards the brown spectrum. The caterpillars are mostly black with large, pointy protrusions that poke out from its body. The Zebra Longwing butterfly lives up to its name. These caterpillars are white with dramatic black spikes, while butterflies are black with white stripes.