You'd be hard pressed to find flowers more exotically beautiful than those of a passion vine. To many, the flower parts symbolize the passion of Christthe circle of whiskerlike filaments represents the crown of thorns; the three pistils, the nails; the five stamens, the five wounds; the five petals and five sepals, the ten steadfast apostleshence the name passionflower.
With the exception of the Southern native, P. incarnata, all the passion vines listed here are native to South America. All have rich green leaves, will tolerate most well-drained soils, and can climb by tendrils to 2030 ft. in a rather short time. Flowers are often fragrant and usually appear during warm weather. Many species produce edible fruit; for the species cultivated specifically for their fruit, see Passion Fruit.
P. x belotii (P. x alatocaerulea). Evergreen or semievergreen. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11; or indoors. Hybrid between P. caerulea and P. alata, a species not described here. Among the best-known, most widely planted passion vinesand probably the least subject to caterpillar damage. Three-lobed leaves are 3 in. long; fragrant, pink-and-white flowers are 4 in. wide, with deep blue or purple crowns. No fruit. Excellent for indoors.
P. caerulea. BLUE CROWN PASSION FLOWER. Evergreen or semievergreen. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11; dies to the ground in the Lower South but comes back if roots are mulched in late fall. Leaves to 4 in. long, with three to nine lobes. Flowers to 4 in. wide, with a stunning combination of rose-pink and white sepals and petals and a purple crown. Egg-shaped, bright orange, 212-in. fruit is edible but not very tasty. 'Constance Elliott' has pure white blooms.
P. coccinea. RED PASSION FLOWER. Evergreen or semievergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Bright scarlet, 3- to 5-in.-wide flowers with white, purple, and yellow crowns. Blooms on new growth, so any pruning should be done early in the season. Oblong leaves to 5 in. long and 212 in. wide. Mottled orange or yellow, 2-in.-long fruit is quite tasty. Not a good houseplant.
P. incarnata. MAYPOP. Deciduous. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. Native to southeastern U.S. This old Southern favorite is the hardiest of the passion vines, surviving temperatures as low as 10F. Dies to the ground in winter in most areas. Three-lobed leaves are 46 in. wide. Blooms profusely, bearing fragrant, 3-in. flowers in pale lavender with showy crowns banded in purple and pink. Egg-shaped, yellow, 2-in. fruit is edible and pleasantly sweet, although not exactly luscious. Spreads vigorously from seeds and underground roots and can become an attractive pest. Pull shoots where they are unwanted. 'Alba' has pure white flowers.
P. vitifolia. GRAPE LEAF PASSION FLOWER. Evergreen. Zones TS; USDA 10-11; or indoors. Dazzling bright red flowers to 3 in. wide. Deep green, three-lobed leaves resemble those of grapevines. Very free flowering; widely considered the best red passion flower. A good choice for beginners. Good for indoors.
P. hybrids. These have complex pedigrees, but they offer a remarkable variety of color, vigor, and hardiness.
'Amethyst'. Evergreen. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Profuse show of 4-in.-wide, lavender flowers with deep violet crowns. No fragrance; small, orange, edible fruit. Very similar to 'Lavender Lady', but less cold tolerant.
'Blue Eyed Susan'. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Big, 4-in. blue flowers bloom continuously on a 20- to 30-ft. vine.
'Coral Glow'. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Pendent, coral-pink flowers up to 4 in. across have very short crowns. Broad, three-lobed, lustrous leaves to 6 in. wide. Unlike most passion vines, blooms most heavily in winter. More heat tolerant than other red-flowered selections. Grows 1015 ft. No fruit.
'Elizabeth'. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Spectacular fragrant flowers up to 5 in. across, in a combination of mauve and deep purple. Crown contains dozens of long, crinkled, purple-and-white filaments. Sweet, edible purple fruit.
'Incense'. Deciduous. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. Dies back to ground in cold weather but will survive 8F. Fragrant flowers are 5 in. wide, royal purple, with wavy purple crowns. Egg-shaped, 2-in., olive-green to yellow-green fruit has fragrant, tasty pulp. Vigorous to 30 ft.
'Inspiration'. Deciduous. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. A sibling to 'Incense', 'Inspiration' has deep purple blooms on vine growing 1015 ft.
'Jeanette'. Evergreen. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Very free flowering. Large mauve-and-white blossoms with deep purple, curly crowns. No fruit.
'Lady Margaret'. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Red flowers with a white center set this passion vine apart. Less vigorous, growing 612 ft.
'La Lucchese'. Evergreen. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Big, 4-in., light purple flowers repeat all season on a moderate-size vine.
'Lavender Lady'. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Fragrant, blue-purple blooms on a 1520 ft. vine. In frost-free zones, 'Lavender Lady' blooms year-round, but heaviest in spring and fall. In areas with killing frosts, flowering is from midsummer into fall. Often confused with 'Amethyst' but doesn't produce edible fruit.
'Monika Fischer'. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Light purple sepals and petals back the frilly white-banded blue fringe of these showy flowers. Repeat blooming.
'Pura Vida'. Evergreen. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Very free flowering. Fragrant, 4-in.-wide, lavender-blue flowers with deep blue crowns. No fruit. Good for indoors.
'White Wedding'. Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Pure white, 4-in.-wide flowers on a 1015 ft. vine. Fragrant.
Train passion vines on trellises, arbors, or walls. They tend to be rampant, so be prepared to prune and thin unwanted growth. Chemicals in the leaves forestall attack by most insectsbut Passiflora foliage attracts and is the favorite food (host) for caterpillars of several butterflies, including the Julia longwing, zebra longwing, and Gulf fritillary. Many passion vines are quite tender to cold and suitable for outdoor culture only in the Coastal and Tropical South. If growing where the plant is marginally hardy, be sure the soil is well drained. You can grow them as houseplants, but this requires a very sunny window, a sizable support, and frequent misting. Feed indoor plants with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer weekly from spring through fall.