How to Grow Passiflora incarnata Plants in your Garden
Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Maypop / Purple Passionflower
The Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) plant is well known for its amazingly showy flowers and edible yellow egg shaped fruit.
Like most members of the genus it is only the fruit of this woody climbing vine that is edible.
Don't confuse this species with Passiflora edulis (also called the Purple Passionflower), which is a member of this genus but with a much larger fruit size; it gives rise to the majority of the edible Passion fruits / granadilla found on the markets.
A good reason for growing Passionflowers (other than the fruit) is that they add an exotic tropical feeling to a garden, even though it is hardy enough to be grown in most temperate regions.
Passiflora incarnata is a hardy perennial that is native to the south-eastern Unites States. It has dark-green palmate leaves that can reach up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length. Although attractive in their own right it is the flowers and tasty fruit that make this plant so special.
The fringed flowers appear to be a light purple /lilac and white: the petals are white, while the filaments are purple with a tint of pink. These are show and fragrant with a diameter of about 2.5 inches (6.5 cm). This plant is a vine that is known to grow aggressively, so only grow if you are prepared to take vigorous care and control of it.
Following flowering in summer, egg shaped fruits will appear. These will turn to yellow as they ripen. These edible fruits are commonly referred to as Maypops. They are delicious with a sweet fruity pulp that can be sucked directly from freshly ripened fruits. Unripe fruits may upset stomachs. Do not let get over-ripe as the flavour goes under a radicle change in flavour from their sweety goodness to a foul tasting travesty.
Passiflora incarnata Cultivars and Varieties
The Passiflora incarnata 'Alba' cultivar has showy white flowers. It is grown in the same way as the main species.
Quick Growing and Care Guide
Scientific Name:Passiflora incarnata
Common Name (s): Purple Passionflower, True Passionflower, Maypop, Wild Passion Vine, Apricot Vine, Wild Apricot, Flesh-coloured granadilla, Passion Flower.
Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): 5 to 10 / H6
Life Cycle / Plant Type: Hardy perennial, Climbing vine
Plant Height: 5 to 8 feet (1.6 to 2.6 m)
Plant Spread: 2 1/2 to 6 feet (75 to 180 cm)
Flower Details: Fragrant. 2.5 inches (7 cm) across. White Petals. Purple central crown filaments.
Leaf Foliages: Semi-evergreen. Alternate. Three lobed. Palmate. 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm).
Fruit: Late Summer, maturing into autumn. Oval. Showy. Green ripening to Yellow. Fleshy. Contains multiple seeds.
Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight. Tolerates partial shade but must get direct sunlight for about six hours.
Suitable Soil Types: Well drained. Average to Rich loose soils.
Suitable Soil pH: Most soil acidities, 6 to 8 gives good results.
Soil Soil Moisture: Medium, but reliable moisture
Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Seeds: Harvest fresh seeds from over-ripe fruit pulp, clean, and dry. Soak overnight in 5% alcohol solution or for 5 days in water. Discard any floating seeds. Sow at a depth of 1/3 inch (9 mm) in a flat. May take from one month up to a year to germinate at ~ 80°F (27°C). Transplant seedlings in late spring once soil remains warm and frost-free. Space at 18 to 32 inches (45 to 80 cm).
Propagate: Root or Softwood stem cuttings in the spring and summer. Layer towards the end of summer.
Care: Medium Watering. Frost sensitive. Restrict root growth to improve blooming. Provide shelter from strong winds and cold weather (grow by a wall or use a Trellis). Can spread rapidly from its root suckers, control may be necessary in ideal (sunny) growing areas. Do not overly fertilize unless growing in a poor soil (blood fish and bone). Also consider a yearly feed with a 2-1-3 ratio of N-P-K if growing in soils that are not rich (only if plant is struggling to grow). Consider fan-training using bamboo plant canes if you require a more attractive plant than is seen in naturally climbing ones.
Best used for: Containers. Grow on a Trellis, Wall, Arbour, or fence. As a cut flower. Attracting bees, Hummingbirds, and butterflies to the garden.
Closely Related Species:
Miscellaneous: Maypop is named after the sound they make when you tread on the fruits. Eat fresh or make into a jelly. Passionflower leaves used to be fed to dogs as a traditional cure for the unsteady staggers. Passionflower tinctures were traditionally used to aid sleep. Fairly drought resistant.