Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), also known as maypop, is a vine native to North America. It can be found weaving its way through hedgerows and grass verges, making itself very much visible throughout the summer when it shows off its incredibly intricate flowers.
Many might be familiar with passionflower from boxes of store-bought sleepytime tea. It is a very common ingredient in such herbal blends. Others might recognize the name as being connected to a popular exotic fruit, the passionfruit.
Though the North American passionflower vine also produces a very tasty fruit, most folks will be more familiar with its plump, purple, and far more tropical cousin, the passion fruit (Passiflora edulis).
Depending on your region, you can grow this gorgeous vine for its vigor, delicious fruits, medicinal flowers, and its completely stunning, showy flowers as a perennial in your garden.
Propagating Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Source: North Tropics/YouTube
Passionflower is hardy to zone 6, meaning that it will grow as a perennial. It will die back in the winter and send out new shoots the following late spring/early summer.
One thing that has to be noted about passionflower is that it spreads like crazy. You will find new shoots popping up all over the place, sometimes several feet from the mother plant. They spread via runners under the ground, much like mint does. Luckily, these are really easy to pull up.
Propagation by seed: For passionflower to grow from seed, the seeds need to go through a process called cold stratification. This is when the seeds are exposed to cold temperatures that they would experience in nature in the ground over winter. You can force this process at home with your store-bought seeds and replicate what would happen naturally. Click here to learn about cold stratification. Once your seeds have gone through cold stratification, you can plant them in the soil after the last frost of spring.
Propagation by root division or cutting: This method is far easier than trying to grow vines by seed. If you have a friend with a vine, you can either ask for a cutting or dig up a rogue shoot at the root. You will be surprised at how hardy these little shoots are and can be simply stuck in the ground and watered in. They will very likely survive their transplant trauma.
Best Place to Plant Passionflower
Passionflower is a true vine that sends out little tendrils, much like pumpkins and cucumbers, that search for something to grab onto. Unless you have lots of ground space, give your vine something to grow up and over. The vines can reach 5-8 feet in one growing season.
Passionflower can grow in full sun but will thrive in partial shade. It is quite drought-tolerant, so it does not need regular watering. Though, perhaps give your vine a little help in the depths of a hot, dry summer.
Harvesting the Fruits
It is important to note that the fruits from this particular passionflower vine do not turn purple like their South American cousins. They should begin to ripen in very late summer to early fall.
The fruits stay green before turning pale yellow and a little shriveled or wrinkled towards maturity. If you can hold out, waiting until the fruit has actually fallen from the vine of its own accord is the true sweet spot. The fruit can be torn open, and the seeds and pulp scooped out and eaten, or they can be added to smoothies or salads.
Harvesting the Flowers
It is the flowers from the vine that are typically used to make tea. You can either harvest the flowers and make tea while they are fresh or dry them for future use. Remember that the fruits are formed after the flowers have died away, so removing the flowers will remove the chance for fruits to grow. If you want fruits, too, don’t harvest all of the flowers!
Fresh flowers will not be as strong as dried flowers, so you may need to steep the fresh flowers in hot water for longer than you would with dried flowers. About a tablespoon of dried flowers per cup of hot water is a good general measurement.
Passionflower tea has been used traditionally as a sleep aid for centuries. It is thought to act as a mild sedative and induce a calming effect on the body. This would make a lovely bedtime tea, especially if blended with lemon balm, lavender, or chamomile.
This is for informational purposes only. Consult a medical professional before using herbs medicinally, especially if pregnant or taking any medication.
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