Plants I love: Passiflora

The passion flower or Passiflora to use its botanical name, is a wonderful ever green climbing plant with large exotic looking flowers.

I first bought one for a couple of pounds in the garden department of a chain store, and have had many happy years with it climbing up a derelict trellis without needing to be tied in, and then moving on to the neighbours fence.

Passion flower bloom
Passion flower bloom at RHS Wisley

Yet I don’t see them as often in clients gardens as I would expect. This is not for any particular reason I can see. Most varieties are hardy in the UK (and will be labelled as such) and require minimal care and only minimal pruning if and when they get out of hand.

Passiflora incarnata is a good hardy variety, but would benefit from some shelter in very exposed sites. Growing up a trellis against a house or shed should provide that extra warmth to get it alive how-ever, or a simple winter fleece. Passiflora caerulea is for milder parts of the uk, but is still reasonably hardy.

In the summer, you will get such amazing flowers, as shown in this blog post. And, in good warm summers (if such a thing does exist here!) you may get fruits forming. These are not ‘Passion fruit’ as we know it how-ever, and it is well worth noting that whilst edible, they are purported to be unpleasant. According to the RHS, the un-ripe yellow fruits can cause stomach upsets, so eat at your own risk!

Large passionflower at RHS Wisley
Huge Passiflora in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley

As I mentioned they require little pruning. They do get very big, and you can trim them down a bit if you like but this will impact flowering for a while. If it becomes woody and over-grown you can carry out renovation pruning and cut it down to a couple of feet in height. This almost certainly will mean you won’t get much flower for the next few years whilst it re-grows.

Plant it now, in Spring, and enjoy in the Summer and for many to come.

Do you have a passion flower that needs a little TLC? Or do you require some general garden maintenance? Then please give me a call on 07546 750 985 or e-mail me – [email protected]