Passiflora incarnata in bloom with visiting bee
image by Picolo Namek: Commons.wikimedia.org
A stunning tropical flowering and fruiting evergreen vine, passiflora incarnata is a family of plants grown as perennials in warm and temperate climes and as annuals in cooler climes. Considering its aggressive growth rate and spectacularly complex blooms, passiflora incarnata is a very low-maintenance plant. It does require structural support to perform optimally, as well as sun and water, but it needs very little to no fertilizing.
Provide a planting location with a full-sun to partial afternoon-shade exposure. Passiflora incarnata is tolerant of nearly any soil condition except for heavy, wet clay. If you must locate your passiflora in clay, amend the soil heavily with peat, sharp sand and large amounts of compost before planting.
Water the soil at the base of your passiflora so that it is evenly and consistently moist to the touch but not sopping wet. In warm and dry climates, during the vine's most active growth period, daily watering may be required. Never allow the soil to dry out around the roots entirely.
Provide structural support for the vine in the form of a sturdy fence, arbor, trellis, pergola, wires on stucco or brick facades, or even an old tree or shed. The climbing tendrils of the incarnata will do all the hard work of lifting and securing the vines to the structure if you provide an occasional boost. Help the plant make contact with the support by using biodegradable garden ties secured loosely or by winding the vines around a structure at a key point.
Fertilize the soil around passiflora incarnata with a good quality compost. As the plant has adapted to grow in even poor soil conditions, chemical fertilizers are not warranted and may only serve to produce vegetative growth as opposed to boosting bloom and fruit production. Laying down a few pounds of compost each year under a blanket of mulch will build the richness of the soil and provide the nutrition the plant will need to perform.
Mulch around the base of the plant with an organic material such as shredded bark or cocoa hulls to hold moisture in the soil and keep down weed development. Lay down a 2-inch deep blanket of mulch each year to replace what has degraded into and fed the soil.