Get Familiar with the Passion Flower: Your New Favourite Flower

Passion flower grows fast, produces fruit, and has exotic looking blooms.

Passion flower grows fast, produces fruit, and has exotic looking blooms. Passion flower suits any garden that aims for attracting beneficial insects, such as butterflies or bees and most of its species has evergreen foliage. The passion vine is a crawler by nature and it will just love to grow around your garden fences or trellis. Typically, a passion flower plant will emit flowers that are up to 15 cm in diameter depending on the species. Native to South America, the passion flower will demand full day sunlight and a soil with good drainage.

Passion flowers give edible ellipse-shaped fruits, that range from orange to violet in colour in 60 of their 400 in total species. A passion flower commonly grown for its fruits would be the tropical Passiflora Edulis, which prefers warmer climates. This exact species of passion fruit flower is being also used for the commercial sale on the market. All other parts of the passion flower are potentially dangerous for ingestion and avoidance is strongly recommended.

As stated above, the plant will surely attract lots of wildlife, mainly butterflies. They find the vines perfect for laying eggs. One egg at a time, soon the flowers get covered in them and as follows the caterpillars begin on munching on the leaves. There are two natural defensive mechanisms that come in play against such scenario:

  • certain passion flower plant species have evolved features that have a similar appearance as eggs, which eventually turns female butterflies off as potential egg-layers. Disappointment then takes place in their little hearts.
  • Other species give away a very delicious nectar(extrafloral) that attracts ants. The ants will then protect the plant form various caterpillars, but mainly the variegated fritillary one. It’s like Nature versus itself.

Not all wildlife that will come with it is from the macro-world though. Fungal diseases such as the Fusarium wilt will try to invade your crops in many cases. Said disease originates in the soil and then proceeds to turn your plant’s foliage yellow until they start to die out. If let loose and uncontrolled it will eventually get to the roots, killing them and leaving you with empty hands. Prevention might come in the face of growing passion flowers that give the orange coloured fruit. They tend to deal with this threat well.

Other foes of this precious lady include Xanthomonas(bacterial spots) and cucumber mosaic (virus, affecting the vines). Among all other, root rot is not to be underestimated for the plant is prone to it.

Of course, along with encouraging wildlife in your garden, there are many reasons you should, indeed, grow it. After a mentioning a few cons to prepare you mentally it’s time I list the pros.

Passion flower and its use in medicine:

If you are unlucky enough to suffer from disturbed sleep or insomnia, gastrointestinal issues the likes of caused from excessive use of Aspirin or alcohol, drug withdrawal symptoms or even general anxiety then the passion flower plant is what you’re looking for. Specifically the Passiflora incarnate.

  • Sedative effect and anxiety treatment: Not long after the plant was discovered some 500 years ago people have been using it for its calming effects. Recently studies have been performed to positively confirm that both in humans and animals the flower will trigger a soothing sensation and relief.[1]
  • Gastrointestinal problems treatment: Passion flower is used in the fight with nausea caused from anxiety and is also proven to help with stomach ulcers. Ulcers are usually a result from alcohol or Aspirin abuse.
  • Narcotic drug withdrawal symptoms treatment: if combined with the right medication, a strong brew from the plant’s stem, leaves and flowers can help significantly reduce irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety and agitation. There’s a chemical in it that lowers the brain activity.

The tea is easily made with a teaspoon of dried leaves being boiled for a couple of minutes. Take a cup an hour or so before bed and don’t exceed a 1 cup per twenty-four hours. It will help you sooth your mind and fall asleep.

Growing Passion Flower

Passion flower is a perennial climber so it’s best to grow its vines next to your fence or trellis. Passion flower plants are also tropical in nature, which is a bit of a barrier when it comes to growing them in zones under 7. There are a couple of Passiflora species that are hardy and will withstand a mild winter, such as the P. caerulea. Sheltering the plant is always the best approach. It will require full sun and a well drained soil. Passion flowers grow up to 6 metres in one season, so winter dying out is actually a form of natural control. You can still have a healthy plant the upcoming year if you apply deep mulching.

Pruning Passion Flower

Passion flower vines will inevitably climb surrounding plants, not necessarily chocking them. You need to keep the Passion flower in check during the growing season, for they are fast growers. Trim them in late winter, avoiding to remove more than 30% of the whole plant. Untrained passion plant vines tend to give off less fruit and exotic flower. There are places where the plant is out in the wild and has become invasive.

References:

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11679026

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