Maypop Passion Flower
Seed Count: Approx. 20 seeds
Days to maturity: Perennial
Description: A lovely perennial vine with lacy twining foliage and large, showy, pinkish-purple flowers all summer. Flowers are followed by egg-size edible yellow fruit that have a tart apricot flavor. Fruit is good for fresh eating, making jelly, and flavoring drinks. Vines freeze to the ground each winter, but regrow in spring. Root hardy to -20 degrees F. I recommend a winter mulch for extra protection. Purple passion flower is one of the hardiest and most popular species of passiflora. It is revered for its surreal, sweet-scented flowers, its sugary fruit, and its medicinal value. This fast-growing perennial vine can be found growing wild in most of the United States west of Texas and south of New York. In a single season, and in good growing conditions, the vine is said to be capable of putting on 20-30 feet of growth.
Mint2Grow Tip: I love passion vines because they make great fence and privacy covers in warmer climates. I provide mine with a metal link fence along my property, and it just spreads and covers it like crazy. The gulf fritillary butterfly loves this plant, and its larvae make it home, which makes this plant great for a pollinator garden. Also, you can dry the leaves and flowers to make a sleepy time, or calming night time tea; great for treating insomnia or anxiety.
How To Grow
Sowing: To help remove natural germination inhibitors on the seeds, soak them in a jar of water for 3-5 days, and place the jar in the sunlight. This is also a great test for viable seeds. Throw away any seeds that float. It means that they have lost their viability. Germination of passion flower seeds can be a little difficult, but soaking them first should help with this process. Place the well-soaked seeds on the surface of damp potting mix. Pat the seeds down, but do not cover them, since they need light to germinate. Place the pot in a plastic bag, and seal it to retain moisture. If you can provide heat, like from a heating pad, to the pot, then you will have a better chance of sprouting. Time until germination can be difficult to predict, since they can be spotty, but it can take weeks to months. (This is why I prefer to just buy established plants, due to my lack of patience). Carefully transplant the seedlings once they can safely be handled and the soil temperature outside has warmed.
Growing: Once germinated, water seedlings occasionally until they become established. Mature plants tolerate drought well and prefer slightly dry soils. This vine makes an excellent choice for planting near a trellis, fence, or wall. I grow my passion vines along metal fencing. If the vines begin to grow too thick, cut some of them back down to ground level. In good growing conditions, they will spread vigorously, and can be considered a weed and invasive, so keep an eye on them, if you do not wish for them to spread in unwanted areas. Passion vines can also grow easily from root or stem cuttings, and can be divided. These blossoms are highly attractive to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. In fact it is the exclusive food of the cute little gulf fritillary butterfly. However, beware, they can decimate your plants. In spite of its tropical appearance, this particular variety of passion flower can tolerate temperatures down to 0 degrees F.
Harvesting: For cut flowers, choose stems with flowers that have just opened. Strip the foliage that will fall below the water level, and place in water immediately. I also harvest flowers and leaves for tea. I dry them; it makes for a great sleepy time tea. To harvest the yellow edible fruits, I wait until my passion fruits are either slightly wrinkly, or drop from the vine, before I harvest them. The fruits are much sweeter when they wrinkle and drop willingly. If the fruits don't come off the vine easily, when I try to pull them, I leave them until they do (they can still be picked but will be more acidic and sour). The fruits can be eaten fresh or used to make juice, jelly, or even a yummy kombucha. To save seeds, allow the fruits to ripen fully on the vine, until they reach a yellow color, then remove fruits from the vine, and harvest the seeds. For the best germination rates, plant seeds directly from the fruit, since they lose their viability quickly, and are easiest to sprout when fresh.