How to Grow and Care for Passiflora Caerulea

passiflora caerulea

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Perennial vine
Family: Passiflora - Passion flower
Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
Watering: Average - moist but well-drained soil
Colors: white, purple
Size: 6–30 ft tall, 3–6 ft wide
Hardiness Zones: 5–9 (USDA)
Soil Type: Chalk, Clay, Sand, Loam
Soil pH: Neutral to acidic
Propagation: sowing seeds or cuts
Toxicity: Non-toxic

The Passiflora caerulea is an interesting-looking flower native to North and South America. The vigorous climbing vines have large white flowers with blue rings around them, dark green foliage, and tendrils. In late summer and fall, they also have large egg-shaped deep orange edible fruit. The foliage consists of dark rich green glossy leaves and twining tendrils. Also, known as the blue passionflower, growing and maintaining such a unique plant may seem intimidating. Yet, caring for the Passiflora caerulea is rather simple. Don’t let its exotic look fool you!

Watering is key for this type of plant, despite being easy to maintain, a weekly hydration is necessary especially in summertime. There are no particular requirements for soil as this plant can grow happily with ordinary soil as long as it drains well. Also, remember to keep it in an area with full sun to partial shade or at least leave it exposed to direct sunlight for three to four hours a day if you want to enjoy its stunning blooms.

This tropical-looking plant can grow in almost any climate, including colder areas.  This makes the Passiflora caerulea an easy plant for beginners as well as those with a green thumb.

About the Passiflora caerulea

The Passiflora genus has over 500 species. They come in several shapes and sizes. A Passiflora can be simple shrubbery to annual blooms, and even fruiting trees! Regardless of what genus you have, passiflora share one commonality: exotic flowers. The Passiflora caerulea’s nickname is the blue passionflower because of the white flower with blue rings.

A mature Passiflora caerulea can measure roughly 6-30 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide. It is a perennial vine type of plant with tendrils that cling to arbors, fences, and brick but will not damage them. You may be curious where the passionflower originated from. The flower was discovered in tropical areas of the Americas and grown in hotter climates. Dating back to the gardens of Aztec lords, the Passiflora caerulea was used for medicinal and decorative purposes alike.         

How to Grow the Passiflora Caerulea

Passionflower seeds can be a bit temperamental. If you are growing your flowers in a pot, you may need to start your seeds indoors as they can be slow to germinate. You’ll need to soak your seeds before planting them and once they are well-soaked, you can transfer them to a pot. It can take up to 20 days for your seeds to sprout. Then you can introduce your flowers to outdoor conditions by slowly increasing sunlight.

If you are sowing your seeds into the ground outdoors, seasons are key. While the passionflower can survive winters, it can not begin to sprout in a cold climate. Spring and fall are the ideal seasons to plant your passionflowers. If the weather is too cold or too hot, the plant could die. It must be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to begin to sprout outdoors.  The Passiflora caerulea flowers each year from May until October.

How to Propagate the Passiflora Caerulea

Propagating the Passiflora caerulea is rather simple. There are two techniques you can choose from.

  1. The first involves sowing seeds directly from your blue passionflower. It is important to note that if you are sowing your seeds directly from the plant, they must soak for 24 hours first. The great thing about propagating your passiflora caerulea this way is you can do it year-round. 
  2. Another way to propagate the flower is by making cuts. Cutting should be done in the summer months, from June to September. You’ll take a six-inch cut from new growth on your plant that has yet to flower. Remove the lower pair of leaves and keep the top pair. Then, place your snips into a seedling soil mix. For best results, propagate and store in a warm and humid place.         

Caring for Your Passiflora Caerulea

Watering

Both over and underwatering your plants can be a cause for concern for gardeners. It can be hard to figure out how much water your plants need. It comes down to the climate for this plant. Regardless of whether your passionflower is in a pot or outdoors in the soil, you need to give it one generous watering right after planting. If your plant is in a pot, water it once per week during the growing season. If it is in the ground, watching rainfall is key. Water more often during heatwaves and drought. This plant is easy to maintain when it comes to hydration, but it does not handle drought well. Your passionflower will stay happy and healthy as long as it is well-watered in the summertime.        

Pruning

If you are seeking a low-maintenance plant during its growing season, the Passiflora caerulea is the flower for you. There is no need to prune this plant unless you want to maintain the size of the plant and encourage new growth. Be sure to remove deadheads when necessary.  Pruning is best done in the late winter or early spring months. In cooler climates, the vines may die back to the ground anyway.  Passionflowers bloom on new growth. So, if you prune them before spring it enhances the season’s bloom.         

passiflora caerulea

Fertilizing

Passionflower vines benefit greatly from light fertilization. General-purpose fertilizers will do the trick. It’s important to use a fertilizer that has equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for your blooming Passiflora caerulea. You’ll want to fertilize the plant before early spring when new growth blossoms. From there, you’ll repeat fertilization every four to six weeks until the fall season rolls in.         

Soil

Good news for passionflower growers! These plants are relatively easy when it comes to soil. Checking the pH balance of your soil doesn’t matter much, but should stay somewhere at about 6.1 to 7.5. Ordinary soil will do the trick for the passiflora caerulea and it must drain well. It likes rich and moist soil but can get waterlogged, so adding mulch at the base of the plant will help keep the soil hydrated without the risk of drowning.        

Light

If you’re seeking great blooms from your passionflower, be sure to plant them in an area with full sun to partial shade. If you are in a warmer climate, shade your plant in the afternoon to keep it from getting too hot. You can bring your potted plant indoors during harsh summer or winters to help it withstand intense temperature changes.         

Climate

It is important for you to understand what your passionflower needs to stay healthy through changing seasons. As mentioned above, if your plant is in a pot bring it indoors during extreme weather so it will thrive the best. If you live in a harsh winter climate, it is highly recommended you pot your plant to prevent frost. Yet, the hardy plant is capable of withstanding temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live where the winters are mild, planting your Passiflora caerulea in the ground with some mulch is enough.  If you live in an area that sees harsh summers, bringing a potted plant indoors could be beneficial. If it is in the dirt, provide some shade during heatwaves. Experts recommend growing your outdoor plant against a brick wall that retains heat to protect it from harsh summer months.         

passion fruit

Passionflower Varieties

There are many varieties of passionflowers out there. Each variety cultivates differently. However, they share one commonality: a tropical-looking flower. The Passiflora caerulea you are growing can withstand various temperatures and blooms a blue and white flower. Other varieties, like the Passiflora edulis, are not as hardy and thrives only in a tropical climate.

It grows edible fruits, which makes it an interesting but more difficult plant to grow. Another passionflower variety is the purple haze. This plant grows a tropical-looking purple flower with a nice fragrance.  Other varieties of the passionflower include Passiflora coccinea, Passiflora incarnata, and Passiflora alata also known as ‘Ruby Glow’. The flowers of these varieties range in colors from purple, pink, red, and white.         

passiflora caerulea

Potential Diseases

These plants love humidity, which can cause issues when it comes to diseases.  If there is not enough air circulation your Passiflora caerulea can get a fungal disease.  You’ll know if your plant is suffering from a fungal infection if you see spots on the leaves. You can remove the infected leaves to easily remedy this issue. If the issue persists, you may need to use a fungicide. Root rot is another issue your plant could encounter if the soil does not drain well.         

Passiflora Caerulea Fun Facts

Did you know there are health benefits to your blue passionflower? Consuming the flower can soothe your nervous system and even help with sleep! Eat the raw fruit for digestion as the plants have anti-inflammatory effects. You can boil the flower and consume it to help aid with sleep or even as pain relief. During the Aztec era, where this plant dates back, it was used primarily as medicine. These plants are non-toxic.      

Takeaways

Growing and maintaining plants can seem overwhelming to some. Whether you have a natural green thumb or you are only a beginner, the Passiflora caerulea is a great addition to your garden. Its versatility, unique look, and easy maintenance make it a fun and exciting plant to grow. If you have any questions about growing a passiflora caerulea of your own, please feel free to ask them in the comments below. Be sure to share this article with your fellow gardeners on social media!