Passion Flowers actually comprise a family of several hundred varying species of flowering perennial plants.
Many are vining, a few are shrubs. It's name is believed to be derived from the passion of Christ as it bears a similarity to the crown of thorns worn during the crucifixion.
Individual blooms only last a few days at best, but the plant produces fresh blooms from mid summer until the first frost in most varieties. The plant goes dormant till spring after the first frost. They are hardy in USDA zones 5-9. Passionflower plants also produce an edible oval berry, not to be confused with passion fruit, they are two different fruits and plants.
The fruit is pretty bland, usually tasteless, sometimes mildly sweet. The seeds within the berry are a tasty and are the part of the plant that is most prized for their nutritional value. The foliage is considered herbaceous, and the leaves are useful for culinary purposes.
All above ground parts of passionflower plants are utilized to make herbal medicines for seizures, asthma, menopause, hysteria, adhd, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure.
Passion Flower can be grown from seed. The fresher the seeds the better, they do not store well and the older the seed - the less likelihood of successful germination. When older seeds do germinate it will usually take longer than fresher ones. Direct seeding can be done directly into the soil in the spring, or started in pots indoors for later transplant outside. Seeds should be soaked in room temperature water for 10-12 hours, before sowing.
Passionflower can also be started from softwood cuttings. A shoot that snaps off easily from the plant is best. Cuttings should be no more than 6 inches in length and generally no less than 3 1/2 to 4 inches long.
Dip the ends of your cuttings in rooting hormone before placing them cut end down, into about a half inch of moist well drained potting mix.
New cuttings should be shaded slightly, some light but not a tremendous amount. keep them warm and moist and you should notice sucker and root development in 3 -4 weeks. Do not transplant them until the root system is well developed.
Passionflower plants are heavy feeders and regular applications of balanced, general-purpose fertilizers are advisable. Fertilize them in very early spring as new growth emerges, and repeat monthly until early autumn.
Harvest the leaves in early autumn and dry them either in a dehydrator, in paper bags or if weather permits sun drying is also feasible. Place dried leaves in an airtight container and keep them in a cool, dark spot.
Harvesting seeds can at times be a wee bit tricky. Some varieties are self fertile and others need another passion flower plant to fertilize it. A fertilized flower develops a fruit which contains the seeds. If your plant[s]do not develop fruits they have not been fertilized - the seeds are within the fruit not the flower.
Some Hybrid varieties are sterile and will produce neither a fruit or viable seed.
The seeds are edible, tasty and extremely healthy. They are loaded with anti-oxidants, nutrients such as magnesium, and have cardiovascular benefits. The leaves are also beneficial and used as an herb in some cases and to make Passionflower Tea.
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