Passion vines are an extremely exotic flower with a wonderful aroma that can fill a small garden. Large complex flowers last only one day but are always a talking point. Makes a great small pot plant for the deck where its aroma can be appreciated. A perennial vine it does best in pots where root restriction produces more flowers. Can be planted in the ground to zone 6 where it will die back in winter. Vigorous vine needs climbing support in full sun but is not really fussy about soil type. Vines are very long lived once established and take little care except cutting back in winter. Little fussy to start but easy once established. Butterflies love the flowers, wildlife may eat it.
Description of Purple Passionflower / Maypop (Passiflora incarnata)
Maypop is a native American perennial vine. In zones 8-11 it is most commonly a perennial vine in zones 6-8 the vines die down to the ground in the winter but will regrow from the rootstocks in the spring popping out of the ground once again in May - hence the name. Maypop although a vigorous vine is not as large as many other species of passion flower growing to about 12 feet in length so its much easier to control than other vines.
The mid green leaves are deeply three lobed (palmate) with finely serrated margins from 3 - 6 inches (6 -1 5cm) long and equally as wide. They are attached to the main stem alternately by a short bare stalk. Flower stalks will arise from each leaf node towards the end of the stem and flower singly with one flower closing before the next opens. Each flower lasts only one day. Flowers are large about 4-5 inches across and very complex. They have an outer ring of pale lavender petals usually 10 in number, these are long ovals backed by light green sepals. The outer petals are overlaid by a corona of fringe-like strands that form a ring or crown. These can be lavender, purple or white but are most commonly a banded combination of all three. They can also be straight or slightly curled. The center of the flower is dominated by large stamens and stigma that protrude high above the flat plain of the petals and are arranged in a complex triangular pattern more reminiscent of a radar detection antenna.
Flowers produce an extremely sweet smelling aroma that can be detected from considerable distance away. Will bloom from early summer until late fall in temperatures stay warm enough. Flowers are followed by globe shaped fruits about the size and shape of a small hens egg. Green initially turning slightly yellowish when ripe. When opened the seeds are embedded in a yellowish arillate pulp that has a strong unique flavour.
HOW TO GROW Purple Passionflower / Maypop (Passiflora incarnata).
Location and Care
The simple basics are that this vine needs full sun and well drained soil to be at its best. Providing good rich soil will encourage the plant to grow vigorously but not necessarily flower. After the basics you need to decide the reason for growing the plant before deciding on location and care. Vines can be very prolific and spread over large areas so choose your location carefully. Provide climbing structures for support. Ensure that these are easily cleaned of dead vines in zones 6-7 as plants will die back in winter. Vines are very tough, do not rot down as quickly as some other plants and can be more difficult to remove. In good conditions plants will flower and fruit in the first year from seed.
Growing depends on your climate.
How you grow your vines will depend on what zone you are in. In zones 8 and warmer plants will usually flower and fruit just fine if planted directly in the ground and just left to scramble over any growing surface. This could be a fence, arbor or even a tree although vines will kill trees by smothering in warmer zones. In zones 7 and colder plants often don't fruit unless their roots are restricted, so more care needs to be taken depending on what you want the plant for. If you live in a warmer zone and your plants wont flower you may also need to try root restriction.
For maximum flower production. Roots need to be restricted to put the plant under some stress and increase its flowering potential. For this reason plants are often grown in pots. In warmer zones 8-10 these can be left outside all year. For colder zones 7 and above they should be brought in during the winter to prevent freezing. Up to zone 6 a garage attached to a home is usually sufficient, for colder zones a slightly warmer location such as a basement or slightly heated shed or mud room is ideal. Plants can be cut down to the ground for the winter and the soil just kept moist, then returned to the outside after last frost date and place under a trellis or other climbing structure. Situate in a sunny location in good compost or soil and water regularly. Use pots up to 14 inches across but no more to promote good healthy flowering plants.
For medium flower production - just because
we like the plant. Can be planted in the ground up to zone 6 above that use
only as pot plant see maximum flower production above. Choose a sunny location
and provide a trellis or other climbing structure that is large enough to accommodate
the vines. If flowering is still required it is best to place the plant in a
pot and sink the pot into the ground. Use pots 12" = 14" diameter,
no larger. This will allow for root restriction and give some flowers without
having to move the plants every winter. If left unrestricted roots can travel
considerable distances and the vines will produce lots of leaves but wont flower
much if at all. Restriction is necessary. In cooler zones cut down to the ground
in fall and mulch over to protect roots. Planting passion vines in sunken pots
next to the house is a good way to keep the roots warmer in winter months.
To get flowers produced from unrestricted plants, they need to be grown in full sun in well drained fairly poor soil If the plant is stressed it is more likely to produce flowers. If the soil has good organic material and is rich you will only get leaves.
For leaf production for medicinal use.
Can be planted in the ground without restriction. Some flowers may be produced depending on the soil type. Flowers are more likely to occur in poorer soils with less water. In rich soils with lots of organic material and good water there will be prolific leaf growth but no necessarily and flowers at all. For rich soils restrict water to encourage some flowering. For leaf production plants can be grown in field like conditions and allowed to grow along the ground rather than up a trellis. Ideal locations are hot sandy or sandy loam fields with full sun.
For fruits. Follow requirements for flower production but ensure that there are at least two different plants flowering. For good fruit production it is far better to have at least four plants that came from different seeds. Fruits will not be produced if plants have all been cultivated from cuttings from one plant, since they are still all the same plant. Different plants are required to set fruit. All plants will usually set fruit if this requirement is met. Flowers must be produced early enough in higher zones 6-7 for fruits to mature before winter. Some sources state that plants are self compatible but we have never found this to be true.
Pruning may be necessary to keep vines under control. For ground planted vines in good soil they can explode and produce large amounts of vines and foliage. Passion vines can easily overtake whole flower beds and small trees in ideal sunny locations if not kept in check. Pruning back will help keep them in check but if the plant is not under stress from soil, nutrients and/or water it still will not flower.
Growing Purple Passionflower / Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) from
Passiflora has a very hard seed coat and exudes chemicals which inhibit germination so it can be a more difficult seed to work with. There are numerous suggestions about the best way to get the seeds to germinate, every source seems to have its own particular ideas. We have tried several and our conclusions are:
Filing the seed coat is very time consuming and fiddly. It may be fine if you are sowing 5 seeds but if you are sowing 60 it's a pain. We rarely if ever file or sand seeds.
Soaking. This can help to get water into the seed and move the chemicals inhibiting germination. Putting the seeds in a jar of water and just letting them sit there for a day or so can help stimulate the seeds to germinate. Some sites suggest using apple cider vinegar or high pulp fruit juice such as orange juice to help attack the seed coat.
Period of cold. Some sites suggest this others don't. Discussions with growers of native seeds all seem to agree that a period of cold is necessary. Moist cold is considered the best and we agree. All our seed is kept refrigerated to ensure freshness and help break dormancy in some cases this can be enough, in others moist cold seems to work best. Place seeds in a Ziploc bag with a mix of sand and seeding compost. Shake up and add some water to make the mixture just moist. Place in the refrigerator for at least a month longer if desired. Remove bag and plant in seed trays.
Planting. Seeds are reasonably large so planting 2-3 in individual pots
or singly in medium cell seed trays is best. At this stage the seeds need warmth.
May sources suggest bottom heat for even germination. We agree that heat is
needed, using a heating pad is the best option. Try to keep seeds at about 68°
- 75°F. (20°-24°C) but bare in mind that watering will need to be
much more frequent as the seeding mix will dry out very quickly with bottom
heat. Once or even twice a day may be necessary. If bottom heat from a pad is
not an option try placing over a radiator in a sunny window, or just use a sunny
window on the south side of the house if there are no other options. Try to
give the seeds as much warmth as possible. Keep seeding mix moist at all times.
Some sources suggest placing plastic over the top of the mix to keep in moisture, we find that this can encourage damping off fungus, often in the roots so the poor seed never gets a chance to even show a shoot. Water molds are very fond of these conditions and it's the major problem with all seed production we do not recommend it.
Germination can still be erratic some seeds can sprout in as little as two weeks others may take six months or more to germinate. This is the main reason for planting seeds in individual cells or pots so those that sprout can be moved to larger pots without disturbing the ungerminated ones. Keep seed tray in warmth and watered the whole time and pick out seedlings as they come up. It can take patience but its rewarding in the end.
Once seeds have sprouted keep watered and warm, transplant into larger pots as the vines grow. Harden off when plants reach about 2 inches tall. If intending to keep in pots plant in larger and larger pots until reach the 12-14 inch size for mature vines. Follow location and care instructions above.
Harvesting Purple Passionflower / Maypop (Passiflora incarnata).
Leaves and stems can be harvested as soon as the plant is growing vigorously. Harvesting and pruning can be combined so plant says healthy. Best to harvest when some flowers are beginning to bloom, if plants are fed and watered they will continue to produce vines throughout the season. Remove dead and faded flowers before drying.
Medical uses of Purple Passionflower / Maypop (Passiflora incarnata)
The most common use of passion vine is as a sedative and calmative. It is used to treat insomnia, nervous tension, irritability, neuralgia and hysteria. Most commonly it is used to treat a busy mind. When thoughts are constantly keeping a person awake passiflora helps to quite it so sleep is possible.
The plant is also used for a large number of other reasons, including irritable bowel syndrome, pre-menstrual tension, vaginal discharges and mild reduction of blood pressure.
The roots are also used as poultice to treat boils, cuts and wounds. An infusion of the roots is used to treat earache and inflammation and as a tonic for liver problems.
Should not be mixed with central nervous system depressants such as alcohol as it may induce Hypersensitivity
Edible Uses of Purple Passionflower / Maypop (Passiflora incarnata):
The fruits are the main edible portion. While P. incarnata is not as delicious as the tropical passion fruit sold in stores it is still a pleasant fruit. It is the pulp that surrounds the large seeds that is used and needs to be carefully removed from the seeds before being used to flavor desserts, smoothies, drinks, jams, jellies and other delicacies.
The young leaves and shoots can also be eaten either cooked as a vegetable or in salads. The flowers can also be eaten but have such a strong aroma that they tend to overwhelm other ingredients and should be used sparingly.
Origins of the name.
Passion flower got its name from the early Spanish explorers who decided that the finely-cut corona in the centre of the blossoms resembled the crown of thorns placed in Christ's head and the central complex of stigma and stamens represented Christ's trials and passions.
Wild passionflower, maypop, apricot vine, old field apricot, Holy-Trinity flower, mayapple, molly-pop, passion vine, pop-apple, granadilla, maycock, maracoc, maracock, white sarsaparilla, Passion Flower, Purple passionflower vine.