Passion Flower

I taught a Whimsical Garden Fun series for Bradley University's OLLI program this month. This one was a bit different for me because I combined the science of gardening with a bit of art and culture. The first day, during Communicating Your Garden, I taught how to capture a garden's beauty through journaling, photography, and sketching. The second day we discussed The Meaning of Flowers and I played my guitar and sang Scarborough Fair to cover the lost herbal meanings of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.

One class participant brought in a beautiful example of how to communicate a garden. It was a ceramic tile of a passionflower picture that she had taken on a trip to Costa Rica. A duplicate tile can be seen at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on permanent display as part of the Community Art Tile Program.

I plan to grow some passionflower in my garden this summer. Passionflower is a vigorous, tendril-growing vine that grows 10 to 15 feet in one growing season.

It has the most exquisite and striking flower. The flower is somewhat hard to describe. Most are about 3 inches across in purple, pink, blue, red, or white with are a fringe of hair-like petals. In the middle of the flower are a very showy, white pistil and stamens (pollen and seed producing flower parts).

There are hundreds of different types of passionflower vines. One commonly grown here is called maypop (Passiflora incarnata). It has 2 to 3 inch white, pink, and purple flowers in mid- to late-summer. Maypop grows in hardiness zones 5-11.

Maypop is the only hardy passionflower that bears edible fruit. The egg-shaped fruit is said to taste like a pineapple and grape fruit punch. It has pomegranate-like seed pods filled with rich juice.

Passionflower needs sun and a moist soil location for best growth. They attract pollinators, especially butterflies, to your garden.

I'll let you know how the passionflower works for me this summer. You can follow my garden on my Facebook Page at