Passiflora cerulia, or passionflower, is a woody vine grown for its exotic, lightly scented flowers. A fast growing, tropical climber, its complex flowers, bright orange fruit and evergreen foliage make it a favorite in tropical gardens. It can be grown successfully north of its range and it can brighten indoor locations if given sufficient direct sunlight.
An evergreen, tropical vine, Passionflower (Passiflora Cerulea) bears exotic, white and blue flowers that can measure up to 4 inches across. The twining vine can grow up to 30 feet long and has shiny, palmate leaves that have between 3 and 9 lobes.
Bright orange passionflower fruits are egg-shaped and edible.
Hardiness and Range
A native of Argentina and Brazil, passionflower is evergreen in zones 9 through 11. In cooler regions, it will drop its leaves during winter. The recommended zones for passionflower are 8 through 11, but it can be grown successfully as far north as zone 6 with protection.
Passionflower prefers sandy, well-drained soil in full sun. Water vines deeply but not too frequently. This will encourage deep root growth and protect the plant's roots against freezes and droughts.
Fertilize passionflower lightly. Too much compost or fertilizer will promote green growth but limit flowering.
Passionflower vines are grown for their exotic flowers but their evergreen foliage provides effective screening in the tropical landscape. The intricate flowers are lightly scented and appear during spring, summer and fall.
Passionflower can be grown as a houseplant but it requires a roomy pot. Although it will not grow as fast or as large as it does outdoors, passionflower houseplants will need some kind of support structure to climb upon. Alternatively, it can be allowed to trail out of a hanging basket.
Pests and Problems
An exclusive host of several species of butterfly larvae, passionflower can suffer significant damage from these early-stage butterflies. Floridata.com recommends a philosophical approach to butterfly larvae management: pick off enough larvae to protect the plant but leave enough to grow into butterflies.
Indoors, passionflower is subject to spider mites, whiteflies and scale insects.
In Hawaii and some areas of southern California, passionflower can be invasive. It escapes cultivation and establishes in wetlands and forests. Even with limited light, it can smother shrubs and small trees. Passionflower should not be planted near open spaces or adjacent to natural areas.