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The Passion Flower Family

Passion Flowers; I love the fingerd leaves, the climbing habit, the tasy fruit, and the spectacular blooms. The blooms smell fruity just like the fruit itself, be it a bit sweeter. The bees in my garden all come flocking to the greenhouse where I grow a caerulea, a blue passion flower. This species is prized for the taste of its fruits. My specimen is in a pot and it bit rootbound, the plant is healthy but the fruits don’t grow as big as I like them. She will still be housed in a pot next year. Just a bit bigger, because I would also like to use my greenhouse for other plants and passion flower vines are well known for their abundant growth. I already experienced this growing my specimen from seed. This is her third year, so her age will probably also affect the size of the fruit. She wanted to set fruit in her second year (pretty impressive in my book) but I removed the young fruits to encourage the health of the plant.

Be honest, they really look weird right? On the right a freshley opend flower, just out of the budd. On the left you see a fertilised flower. The flower thread and pestil are turning towards the inner part of the flower. This proces continues with the flower closing and the the ovary swelling. Eventually the flower falls off and you are left with a swollen ovary, the fruit of the plant. yumm…?

Growing Passion Flowers as House Plants
Passion flowers are not commonly grown as houseplants, but it can be done succesfully. The biggest challenge is finding enough light to support the plant in producing flowers. You can still grow a healthy plant in a less sunny spot but the flowers will be very rare. I grow my indoor caerulea in a southfacing window (without growlights) and it flowers. It doesn’t flower as heavily as it’s greenhouse sibbeling, but it flowers for a few weeks longer. Plus I get to enjoy the scent much more when the plant is near a place I hangout to chill. Passion flowers are also very suitable for people who are sensitive to heavy fragrances. They smell nice but their scent doesn’t take over the whole house.

Grow from seed!
In my first attempt to grow a passion flower vine indoor, I started with a nursery bought plant. That didn’t turn out too well. The plant had a really hard time adjusting to the lower light and humidity levels indoors. I imagine it was originally grown in a greenhouse, under near ideal circumstances. After batteling spidermite and lice infestations the plant was so worn out it eventually died on me.

I had much more succes at growing them from seed. I my experience plants generally don’t like to be moved and they develop in accordance to the specific conditions of place they grow up in. Plants, especially vines, are very adaptable. If left to their own devices they seek out the conditions that make them thrive by growing toward the light and spacing out individual leaves to suit the situation. The seedgrown one I kept indoors, grew leggy in the spring but stared filling out when there was more sunlight available in early summer. The first flower appeared in july (In the greenhouse the first flower apeared two weeks earlier). I did use a bloom encouraging fertilizer on both plants.

Another great advantage to growing passion flower from seed, it that there are many different varieties you can grow. Most of them are probably not available at your local nursery. But on the internet there are many sellers who offer unusual passion flower seeds. And of course it’s a lot cheaper. I believe all passion fruits are technically edible but not all of them are as nice to eat as the classic blue passion flower. But when growing indoor without polinators, you grow them for the foillage and the flowers not the fruit (Maybe hand pollination could work, has anyone tried this? Should I try this? Let me know).

Varieties I am growing from seed
Passion flower Alata/ fragrant Granadilla /red passion flower
Passion flower Quadrangularis/ giant passion flower
Passion flower Lingularis / sweet granadilla
Passion flower Mollissima / Bannana passion flower/ pink passion flower
Passion flower Adenopoda

Happy growing!

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