Passion flower: growing this beautiful exotic plant


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

The fancy flowers of the exotic plant captivate everyone. We show you what you should consider when planting and caring for passion flower in the garden.

Blue passion flower
Passion flowers add an exotic feel to any garden [Photo: bettapoggi/]

The extravagant flowers of the passion flower (Passiflora) not only leave room for inspiration but are also a real eye-catcher in your own garden. They come in the different colours and shapes and surely there is the right one for you. Some species even bear edible fruit, while others are known for their healing properties. Be surprised by the versatility of passion flowers.

With their unusual flower shape, the passion flower already amazed the early immigrants of the American continent. The strikingly coloured wreath of receding stamens reminded them of the crown of thorns of Christ and the three dark styluses if the nails with which Jesus was crucified. Hence, the eccentric-looking flower was given a name that is characterized by suffering.

Passion flower: origin and caracteristics

With over 400 species, the genus of passion flower is very diverse. The majority of passion flower species are native to Central and South America, with another 25 species native to Australia, Oceania, Southeast Asia, and North America. Thus, the mostly climbing plants are native to tropical regions. To camouflage themselves, passion flowers often employ an intriguing strategy. In some way, the plants manage to recognise what leaf shape the neighboring plants have. Crafty passion flowers then adopt these leaf shapes for their own leaves so as not to stand out among the other plants. This behaviour can lead to a passion flower bearing a wide variety of leaves. But with such a conspicuous flower, will the camouflage be successful? For safety, passion flowers still store hydrocyanic acid glycosides in their leaves as a feeding toxin. Their fruits, on the other hand, are edible in most species and are called granadilla or passion fruit. The passion fruit is also one of them.

Red passion flower
Red passion flowers (Passiflora vitifolia) are real showstoppers with their bright red colour [Photo: Mabelin Santos/]

Passion flower species

Particularly well known among the passion flowers is the edible and sweet-tasting passion fruit (Passiflora edulis forma flavicarpa). Their fruits are offered in many supermarkets and you can also discover them in some gardens. However, the blue passion flower (Passiflora caerulea) in particular is common as an ornamental plant. Its fruits are also edible, but are not considered particularly tasty. Basically, only the flesh-coloured passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) plays a role as a medicinal plant. Its leaves are used as passion flower herb in natural medicine.

Unfortunately, since passion flowers originate from the tropics, most species are not hardy. Relatively frost-resistant, however, is the blue passion flower. It can survive frosty seasons in milder areas of central Europe, but freezes above ground during cold winters and resprouts in spring. However, their roots should be protected with brushwood in the winter.

Purple passion flower and leaves
Passion flowers come in all kinds of colours, shapes and sizes [Photo: acarapi/]

Planting passion flower

Of course, not only the location is crucial for planting passion flowers, but also the substrate. In general, these plants are not particularly demanding, but the soil should be slightly acidic and have a pH of between 5.8 and 6.8. The plants also like light humus substrate that is well-drained to prevent waterlogging. You can do this, for example, by placing pebbles at the bottom of the pot. Our peat-free Plantura Organic Flower Compost is ideal for the nutrient requirements of passion flower. It is also made of 100% natural raw materials and is harmless to humans and animals.

Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

The right location

Since passion flowers are native to the tropics, they like a warm and sunny location. This applies to both indoor and outdoor cultivation. If you want to plant your passion flower outdoors and overwinter it there, choose a protected location. This may be, for example, near a larger bush, wall or the like. Passion flowers kept as climbing houseplants also enjoy being placed outdoors in summer.

Procedure for planting passion flowers

Once you have found the right location and have the suitable substrate ready, you can start planting.

Climbing blue passion flower with many leaves
Most passion flower varieties are climbers and will need a climbing plant support – such as this blue passion flower (Passiflora caerulea) [Photo: Alexa Zari/]

If keeping in a pot or tub, repot your young passion flower in spring into a slightly larger pot. Choose a pot that has a diameter of no more than 20 centimetres, otherwise the flower will put its energy less in the flowers and more in the root and green mass. Once the flower is planted, whether indoors or outdoors, it definitely needs a climbing support. A trellis, for example, can be used for this.

Summary: how to plant passion flowers

  • Slightly acidic, humus substrate
  • Drainage for example through pebbles at the bottom of the pot
  • Sunny and warm location
  • In the open air, choose a protected location
  • Do not forget a climbing support

Plant care

As for care, passion flowers are not very demanding. The most important thing is the right location and a regular supply of water. However, passion flowers kept indoors should be sprayed regularly with water that is low in lime. This protects against mites, which like to attack passion flowers when the air is too dry. For more information on caring for passion flowers, you can also read our dedicated article on the subject.


Passion flowers like it quite moist, but waterlogging harms the roots. Therefore, water regularly, but avoid waterlogging. Use water that is low in lime, preferably rainwater.

Close-up of a purple passion flower
Passion flowers like water with a low lime content [Photo: Ludmila Ivashchenko/]

Fertilising passion flowers

The growing season of passion flower is between spring and autumn. During this period, fertilise the plant regularly about every 14 days. With a slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura Flower Food, by the way, this is only necessary about every two months, because the fertiliser becomes available to the plant only gradually and thus continuously supplies the plant with the most important nutrients. In winter, passion flowers hibernate and do not require fertilisation, since they do not grow.

Flower Food, 1.5kg
Flower Food, 1.5kg
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Pruning passion flowers

Passion flowers bloom only on young shoots. Therefore, thin out older specimens from time to time, so that the flower puts most of its energy into the young shoots. Pruning to 15 centimetres is perfectly possible and should be done in early spring or autumn.

Plants that are overwintered indoors can be cut back, especially laterally, when they move into their winter quarters. Passion flower overwintered outdoors usually freeze above ground. You can then remove the dead remains. You can learn more about pruning passion flowers here.

Passion flower does not bloom

If a passion flower does not bloom, it is quite likely that it is in a position that is too dark or too cool. Therefore, choose a bright spot that is also warm in the summer. If possible, you should place the plant outside in summer, where it will get extra light. Pay attention, however, that you first accustom the passion flower to the sun, so that their leaves do not get sunburnt. Another reason can be that the pot is too big, so that the plant is less focused on flowering and more on growing.

Overwintering passion flower

Most passion flower species do not survive the winter outdoors and should be kept indoors over winter. However, the requirements during overwintering differ depending on the species. Most species need a cool but temperate and bright place in winter, such as a conservatory. The purple passion flower (Passiflora violacea), the vine-leaved or red passion flower (Passiflora vitifolia), the laurel-leaved passion flower (Passiflora laurifolia), and the passion fruit varieties, for example, prefer a temperature of around 10 °C. The white-flowered Passiflora eichleriana, on the other hand, likes about 15 °C throughout the winter.

However, some species can be overwintered outdoors, as they have some winter hardiness. However, only overwinter planted specimens outside, as in pots and containers the root ball tends to freeze through. To protect the roots, cover the soil around the plant with brushwood and leaves. Fertilisation is not necessary in winter, and you should also reduce watering.

Passion fruit: harvest and use

If the conditions are right, passion flowers will also produce fruit in our latitudes. But beware: not all species of passion flowers have edible fruit. The fruits of edible species can be harvested as soon as they turn orange to brown or purple. Any fruits that are still green are poisonous and not suitable for consumption.

Passion flower fruits
Several passion flower varieties produce fruit [Photo: Business stock/]

Passion flower plant: use and effect

The leaves of the flesh-coloured passion flower are considered sedative and are effective against insomnia and high blood pressure. They can be used as a homemade tea or tincture. Ready-to-use preparations such as tablets, teas and extracts are also commercially available.

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