The passion flower is a vine native to South America. There are more than 400 species in the genus Passiflora, most of which are evergreen tropical vines. The passion flower ranges in color from blue to purple to white and is known for its beautiful complexity. In addition to brightening the garden, passion flowers have been used medicinally as natural sedatives and remedies for nervousness and insomnia, according to botanical-online.com. The flowers are favorites of butterflies.
The passion flower's twining, spiral tendrils can grow to 30 feet long. Gardeners usually train it to grow around a trellis, fence or netting. It flowers from summer through early fall, and the blooms are about three inches in diameter. The passion flower's blooms have five petals and five sepals that are white, red or purple, and a fringe-like corona of purple and blue. After the flowers are spent, the plant produces yellow or orange fruit.
How to Grow Passion Flowers
Passion flowers need at least four hours of full sun, ideally in the morning. Powerful late-afternoon sun can scorch the plant. They are not particularly drought tolerant, preferring moist but well-drained soil. The vines should be fertilized twice a month with 20-20-20 general fertilizer.
There are many varieties of passion flowers. Some of the more popular cultivars include "Worley," a hybrid with orange-yellow flowers; "Atropurpurea," which has pink flowers with magenta centers; "Vitifolia," which has deep crimson flowers with purple and white coronas; and "Blue Boutique," which has light, violet-blue petals.
Passion flowers can be propagated by taking stem cuttings just below a leaf in late spring or early summer. Growing the vine from seed is difficult, and the new plant's flowers may be very different than those of the parent plant.
In 1620, a Jesuit priest in Peru came across the passion flower. He became transfixed by its beauty and had a vision that the plant's floral parts corresponded to the elements of Christ's crucifixion, according to the University of Saskatchewan Extension Division. The five petals and five sepals became the ten apostles (omitting Peter and Judas), the three pistils became the nails of the cross, the purple corona was the crown of thorns, and the stemmed ovary was the Lord's goblet.