By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
When you see a passionflower (Passiflora spp.) it seems to be a very delicate vine with tropical flowers. While that is true, it is also a hardy plant that grows well.
Early Spanish explorers named this vine for the religious significance they found in the elaborate and gorgeous flower. Texas has several species of native passionflowers, most common in the eastern third of Texas. All of them share the intricate flower with its distinctive structure. Although the native passionflowers are generally well mannered, there is a naturalized Asian variety that can be invasive in certain habitats. Native passionflowers have a three lobed leaf; the Asian variety has a five lobed leaf. Indigenous peoples ate the fruit and used the roots and leaves medicinally as a tonic or poultice for cuts and inflammation and nerves.
There are many varieties of passionflower and they can be purple, blue, red, white or pink. The vine grows rapidly in full sun or partial shade. A trellis or support is required since it can grow up to 30’ tall and 3 to 6’ wide.
When planting add compost to the planting hole to provide nutrients; mulching will help retain moisture. Water once or twice a week throughout the growing season if there is no rain. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer in early spring with equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Repeat every four weeks.
This vine is very low maintenance. No deadheading is needed but you may want to prune to keep the vine from taking over anything growing close by because it attaches itself to anything it comes in contact with.
After the first freeze the plant goes dormant and will die back. Prune to 6” from the ground and remove all dead vines because this plant flowers on new growth.
In a backyard habitat, passionflower provides nectar for pollinating insects and food for birds. It also a larval host for several butterfly species including one of my favorites of Gulf Fritillary. So, if you want a vine with color, appeal and history, this is the plant for you.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.