Passionflower has a remarkable shape and striking color pattern that makes it unique among flowers. Better yet, this gorgeous plant also produces a delicious fruit. This plant is truly a double threat of the best kind. The best part is, they're easy to grow. While passionflower's native range stretches from beyond the Ohio River on south to Florida (in fact, all the way south to Brazil), they make excellent container plants for indoor gardens further north.
There are dozens of species of passion flowers, and online nurseries offer seeds and starter plants. Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) is native to North America and hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Passionflowers like indirect to full sunlight and well-drained soil. Plant them near fences, trellises, walls, or trees so the vine has something to climb. The flower blooms reach 3 inches in diameter, so give them space and place them where you want a show. If you grow passionflowers in containers outdoors during the summer, you can bring them in for the winter. They'll display lovely indoor blooms during the cold months.
Passionflower is also known as Maypop, because it pops up in May. Plant them in spring in rich soil. Fortify your soil with organic material like compost or Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice® Garden Soil. You'll see rapid growth beginning in June, with blossoms unfurling in July.
If you're planting seeds, sand lightly with a fine grit sandpaper and then let them soak for 12 hours before planting. Passionflower seed coatings are hard; if you don't sand and soak, they may take a year to germinate. If you're growing flowers in a container, fill it with a fast-draining potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro® Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix. Place the seeds a few inches deep in the mix. After planting, add a slow-release plant food, such as Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® Continuous Release All Purpose Plant Food. Keep the plant well-watered, and position where the vine can grow. A passionflower vine may shoot up 15 feet during the growing season.
You can order passionflowers online if they're not available locally. If your young plants arrive without instructions, find a location with partial to full sun and rich soil that drains well. Dig a hole deep enough for the root system. Place your vine in the hole and fill it with a 50:50 mixture of native soil and compost, such as Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers and Vegetables and then mulch around the base to help inhibit weeds. Don't let this fast grower dry out. In early summer, it can grow an inch a day, but needs lots of water to do it.
Hardy passionflowers die back in the winter, but not to worry. Simply cut back the dead material, and protect the roots in colder areas with a layer of mulch.
The fruit of the passionflower is often the size of a hen's egg. The core is packed with seeds, but the edible flesh is delicious and has to be one of the most intensely and enticingly scented of all fruits. The pulp is very sweet and often used for beverages and jams. Pick your own edible species and experiment. The edible fruits vary in color (from yellow to purple), depending on the species you grow, but all taste delicious.
Your passionflower vine should do well indoors, splashing a hint of the lush tropics in your home. Put it in bright light, but not direct sun.