Plant of the Week – Purple Passionflower

Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as Purple Passionflower or Maypop is a fast-growing, tendril vine that is native to parts of New Jersey. Most Passionflower vines are tropical, but luckily this variety is grown in Zones 6 through 9, which makes it hardy here in Northern NJ (Zone 6). The vine has attractive 3 lobed leaves and blooms from summer to fall with exotic fragrant 3” flowers. The intricate blooms have petals in a spectrum of colors from white to dark purple with pink to purple crimped hair-like accents.

Passiflora incarnata grows naturally in sandy spots, prefers well-drained soil in full sun to part sun and drought tolerant once established. Herbaceous in our area, it dies back to the ground and emerges in the spring. It will benefit from winter protection so choose a sheltered location or plant near a house foundation or concrete/stone surface which will provide radiant heat. Mulching will also help to keep the roots warmer during the colder months. It can be a vigorous climber and will need a fence, trellis or arbor for support along with room to roam. It spreads by root suckers in optimum growing conditions and can be controlled by removing suckers regularly.

Passiflora incarnata is self-fertile and a favorite among carpenter bees, bumble bees, and honey bees. Due to the ingenious construction of the flower, pollination rates are high. To get to the nectar bees have to brush up against the stamens which accumulates pollen on the top of their head. Since bees can rarely stop at one flower, they spread the pollen from their head to the stigmas of the next flower, ensuring maximum fruit production. Edible egg-shaped fruits (berries) called maypops appear in July but are not ripe until the fall. When they mature they will be slightly wrinkled and have light green to yellow skin. The fruit inside has a tropical perfumed fragrance similar to a guava. Cut or break open the shell to reveal the edible jelly-like seeds. You can eat the seeds or strain them with cheesecloth to make juice, jelly or a delicious simple syrup.

The literature indicates Passiflora incarnata has different pharmacological properties such as antianxiety, analgesic, aphrodisiac & more.

Bring a tropical display to your garden every season with this quick growing vine available now, complete with fruit. Don’t forget about checking out our inventory of arbors and trellises to support your new purchase.