Passion flowers (Passiflora spp.) are perennial woody vines, mostly from tropical America but with a few species originating in Asia, Australasia and the Polynesian Islands. They climb through the supporting vegetation by means of coiled tendrils. Many of them have showy fragrant flowers and several produce edible fruits.
When Christian missionaries arrived in South America in the 16th century, they found a plant which they felt was a good omen for their mission. They called it the passion flower because to them it symbolized the death of Christ. The five sepals and five petals of the flower, which are similar in appearance, represent the disciples without Peter and Judas. The double row of colored filaments, known as the corona, signifies the halo around Christ's head or the crown of thorns. The five stamens and the three spreading styles with their flattened heads symbolize the wounds and the nails respectively. The vines tendrils resemble the whips used to scourge Christ. Passion flowers grow wild in the southern part of the United States and in South America. In the southern USA, it is also commonly known as the maypop, the wild apricot and the ocoee. The last is the Indian name that has also been applied to the Ocoee River and valley.
A lot of gardeners prefer to grow their passion flowers in containers. Passion flower grows quite happily in a pot and you have the convenience of being able to move it to a sunnier site or even bring it indoors for the winter. Plus, it limits the spreading by rhizomes.
Sun: Passion flowers need at least 4 full hours of sunlight a day; more in cooler climates and some partial shade in the hottest areas. Plants may need winter protection in Zone 6.
Soil: The soil should be well-draining, but rich. Passion flowers grow and bloom best when the soil is kept moist. They don’t handle drought well. Soil pH can be in the neutral range, anywhere from about 6.1 to 7.5.
Planting: The addition of compost to the planting hole will help retain moisture. Some type of support is needed for the vines to grow on. It can be a trellis, a structure or another plant. Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty