Stunning Passiflora 'incarnata' in bloom.
image by Oliver P. Quillia
Passiflora incarnata is one of the most visually arresting varietals of the passion flower family. It is a speedy growing, flowering and fruiting vine that uses tendrils to climb and spread. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9 and thrives in full sun to partial shade exposure. Passiflora incarnata flowers from July through September with fruiting following bloom and ripening in the late summer and fall.
Select a location for your passiflora with a full sun to partial daily shade exposure. Plant in soil that is nutrient rich and well drained. Protect from exposure to heavy winds, which can be drying and affect fruit production.
Provide sturdy architectural support for your passiflora that will facilitate its fast climbing growth. A fence in good condition with sturdy posts will work. Arbors, loggias and heavy duty trellising with also be both functional and attractive. A good spreading plant structure that allows sunlight to reach the plant will enhance bloom and fruit production.
Maintain an evenly moist but not wet soil two inches into to the soil. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry before watering again. Mulch with an organic material such as shredded bark to cut down of passive water loss, weeds and to extend intervals between watering.
Feed passiflora only lightly with a twice yearly application of slow-release fertilizer at the roots. For organic fertilizing, till in a few pounds of compost or well aged manure, or both, around the base of the plant a few times a year and water in well. Always apply fertilizer to wet soil and water in after feeding.
Harvest the ripe rounded ovoid fruit, called maypops, in the fall. Pluck them loose or use secateurs to cut them free.The maypops can be cut in half and eaten as fresh fruit or the flesh scooped out and frozen as pulp or made into preserves. Prune the vine to control shape and size as needed.