Last updated on March 21st, 2022
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Growing Passion flowers will provide your garden with some of the most brightly coloured flowers and fruits. In sunny, sheltered areas of the UK, or in a greenhouse for more tender varieties, you can let this evergreen climber spread and thrive.
Where to plant Passion flowers
If you are growing one of the hardier varieties, such as Passiflora caerulea, outside it is best to plant them in an area where they will receive full sun or dappled shade. They need shelter against the cold drying wind, so if you have a wall that faces west, south or south-west, that is best.
If you are growing your passion flowers in a greenhouse or conservatory and it faces south, offer some shade from direct sunlight so that the leaves don’t get scorched.
How to plant Passion flowers
When planted in the ground, Passion flowers tend to do better if their roots are constricted, which is why they thrive most in path side borders or in containers. They will grow in most soils as long as it’s moderately fertile and well-drained.
If growing in pots we recommend using John Innes potting compost mixed with some horticultural grit for improved drainage.
Feeding and Watering
You hardly need to feed passion flowers, as long as the soil is fairly fertile, however, they even seem to thrive in poorer soils too. The only scenario where we would recommend adding a general fertiliser to your passion flower is if it is somehow weak and doesn’t seem to be doing very well. Applying a general fertiliser like Growmore is ideal or even tomato feed if you are growing yours in a pot. These climbers are prolific growers and they don’t need any extra encouragement. In fact, if you do add too much fertiliser you’ll spend most of your time pruning the excess growth and it can even lead to lots of growth but at the expense of flowers.
During the growing season, you should water regularly so that the flowers never dry out, especially if they are being grown in containers. In the winter you can cut back slightly on your watering and allow the top of the soil to dry out ever so slightly before you water again.
Pruning and Training
Training passion flowers
Passion flowers are self-clinging, tendril climbers but you would do well to utilise fan training. This leaves your passion flower in a more attractive design compared to allowing the plant to scramble on its own. After you have planted your passion flower, cut back all of the growing tips from the different shoots to encourage branching from the main base instead.
Tie the main shoots along a horizontal trellis or wall, fence (or any other object) so that once it is done the flowering shoots are able to hang down. Once your plant is established you can shorten any overgrown shoots in the spring and remove any areas that have been damaged by the frost to just keep them looking tidy. Immediately after flowering, you can shorten all of the trailing flowers’ side shoots so that you are left with nothing but a few buds springing forth from the main framework. This is a process you can repeat annually.
Hard pruning passion flowers
If your passion flower is overgrown or has been damaged by the frost you can rejuvenate it in the spring by cutting the stems back to approximately 60cm (2ft) from the soil level. Where possible, cut all the way back to a side shoot or a bud. Your plant will respond positively by sending out the new, green shoots that you will need to train as well to form a permanent framework. Flowering will be reduced for about 1 or 2 years but after that, you will see the things are much improved with masses of flowers.
Passion flowers can be layered in the spring if you want to propagate. Another method you can utilise is taking softwood cuttings (in the spring) or take semi-ripe cuttings in the summer. Out of the two, we would personally recommend using semi-ripe cuttings in the summer.
There are a handful of truly beautiful varieties. The Passiflora caerulea produces the quintessential white and blue flowers and is the most popular variety you will see. It is also one of the hardier evergreen varieties and is probably the most common variety in the UK.
The Passiflora ‘Amethyst’ offers large purple flowers with central filaments of purple, blue and white, and these appear from July to September. As they age, they produce a deeper and richer tone. This is a deciduous variety that is hardy and will grow well in a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade.
The Passiflora ‘Constance Elliot’ is a hardy variety that produces beautiful white flowers. These blooms are heavily fragrant and this passion flower grows well in a sheltered position in the ground as well as containers.
Image credits – shutterstock.com