When looking at the beautiful and exotic Passion Flower in a garden, many people are astonished to find that it is a common weed found in ditches and fields throughout much of the Southeastern United States. This flowering vine pops up in may and grows until the first frost, where the exterior vine shrivels, leaving the roots in the earth to hibernate until the coming spring. Because of this constant rebirth, as well as the shape of the flower itself, early missionaries associated it with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They named it the Passion Flower in honour of that resemblance. Growing vines up to 15 feet in a single year, this hardy species can be cultivated easily enough in a garden provided it has optimum growing conditions. This flower is also where Passion Fruit comes from. This fruit is edible and indeed quite delicious in jam preserves, but it must be harvested quickly as such fruit is also favoured by caterpillars.
Begin trying to grow passion flowers in early May. Start by lightly rubbing the passion flower seeds on one side with fine sandpaper. Soak the seeds in slightly warm water for a full day.
Prepare the pots for the seedlings by putting a few inches of sand into the bottom of each. Passion Flowers don’t do well at all in damp conditions so the soil they grow in must be able to drain and dry out quickly. Fill the pots up completely with plain potting soil. Make sure the soil is loose and not tightly packed.
Push one seed about an inch deep into the soil of each pot. Place the pots in a spot that receives sunlight for most of the day. Give each seed a few drops of fertiliser the day after they are potted.
Check on the pots every few days, make sure the soil hasn’t dried out too much. Give each pot a good watering when needed. By the beginning of June the plants should have sprouted and grown to a sufficient size to be transplanted.
Dig out holes about 6 inches deep in a flowerbed that is placed high in the ground and has good drainage. This flower will creep along the ground, but grows more easily if there is a trellis nearby that it can wrap around.
Carefully dig in the pots around the root system of the flower. Their root system is fragile and very small given the size of the flowering vine itself. Line the bottom of the holes in the ground with potting soil and then place each flower in a hole, pack more potting soil lightly around each plant so it stands upright on its own. Give each plant a good dousing with high potash liquid fertiliser to help them fight off any shock the transplant might have created.
Check your plants every day. By late June they should be averaging almost an inch of growth a day. Because of this incredibly fast metabolic process, they use up fluids very quickly and can become dehydrated overnight. Always give each flower a good watering if it doesn’t look like rain. The root of the plant will rot if it stays wet, which is why it’s so important that it be placed in a spot that drains well, given how often it must be watered.
Stop watering the plant once the vine dies in the winter. The root should survive until the next spring. Sprinkle a little fertiliser in each pot every 6 weeks to help the root along during this period. With this done all you need wait for is the next spring and start the process all over again.
Don't be frustrated if your passion flower fails to bloom the next year. Some species of this plant take years before they grow a vine that will flower. Just make sure the root ball is in good condition and survives the winter.
Tips and warnings
- Don't be frustrated if your passion flower fails to bloom the next year. Some species of this plant take years before they grow a vine that will flower. Just make sure the root ball is in good condition and survives the winter.