Not many people are aware that you don’t have to live in the tropics to grow passion fruit. There are hardy varieties, such as the Maypop Passion Flower, you can grow in Zone 5. In colder climates you can find varieties that adapt well to containers, such as the variety ‘Black Knight’ and bring them inside during the winter or grow them as an indoor plant entirely.
The passion fruit in the same genus as the passion flower (Passiflora) and has very similar flowers. However, the passion flower does not have edible fruit so care should be taken when choosing a plant to grow.
The flowers of both plants are quite peculiar. While today they are frequently associated with romance and sexuality, the “passion” in their name is actually in reference to the “Passion of Christ.” From Wikipedia:
- The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
- The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
- The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
- The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.
- The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
- The 3 stigmas represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
- The blue and white colors of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.
That’s quite a breakdown of just one flower!
I’ve successfully and unsuccessfully grown passion fruit. At our previous home, in Napa, we had a plant grow quite well. The now defunct Copia had large teepees of the vine in their gardens that you could sit in. However, at our current home I killed mine last year because of the salt water in our well. I do plan on planting a new one though as soon as I can.
To learn more about growing passion fruit, particularly in colder climates, check out The Garden of Eaden’s blog entry on the subject.