PASSIFLORA Passion Flower

If you are looking for a suitable climber for a conservatory consider one of the Passiflora (Passionflower) family.  Passiflora Caerulea is the variety most commonly found which can also be grown outdoors in a sheltered spot.  Other varieties available are usually tender and need protection under glass during winter.   Fruits occasionally develop but if you want a decent crop then choose Passiflora Edulis.

Passifloras flower throughout summer and require some form of structure to climb around, the tendrils will cling to trellis or a wire structure fixed to a wall.  It is a vigorous climber so pruning may be required in spring to keep it under control.  If you grow the plant as a freestanding specimen in a tub, it will benefit from being placed outdoors in summer.  Bring back into the conservatory or greenhouse before frosts start.  Keep the compost moist but reduce watering during winter.

Now I cannot talk about this plant without a mention about how it came by its common name.  When early Spanish missionaries were trying to convert the native Indians of S. America they saw in the Passiflora flower symbols which they believed were an explanation of Christ’s suffering on the cross.   The 10 petals and sepals of the flower were said to represent the 10 faithful apostles of Christ.  Although there were 12 apostles, Judas was excluded because of his betrayal and also Peter, who denied knowing Jesus.  The 3 stigma are meant to represent the nails and the 5 stamens the wounds. It is also said by some that the tendrils resemble whips and the circular arrangement in the centre of the flower, the crown of thorns or perhaps a halo.  This flower must have been a powerful visual aid for those missionaries.

Whichever way you want to look at it this plant produces a lovely summer display.