Exotic passiflora bring a touch of sultry luxury to any garden
Passion flowers (passiflora) are among the loveliest of climbers for a sunny wall or fence. Vigorous, evergreen climbers, they cling to their supports with tendrils and have intricately-shaped flowers in a wide range of colours. Most are native of South or Central America and are tropical, so need frost protection in winter. A few are tough enough to survive outside in a sheltered spot, just check their labels to see if they are hardy for your area.
They flower from summer to autumn and some have edible fruits, though the true passion fruit (P. edulis) is too tender to grow outside in the UK. The common blue passion flower (P. caerulea) also has edible fruits but they have little flavour.
Keep them happy
Those passion flowers that are not totally hardy can be grown in pots, up trellis or wicker cones and placed in a sunny spot in summer, then moved to a greenhouse or conservatory in winter. Or grow them in a warm conservatory or greenhouse all year. Outside, hardier types can be planted against a south or west-facing wall. Plant in poor or well-drained soil to encourage flowering for the best results.
Passion flowers bloom on new growth so trim them in spring, when you can see how much damage has been done in winter. Put a loose mulch over the roots in autumn so that shoots grow if the top growth is killed. In pots, feed every week with a high potash fertiliser.
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