Purple passion flower is one of the hardiest and most popular species of passiflora. It is revered for its surreal, sweet-scented flowers, its sugary fruit and its medicinal value. This fast-growing perennial vine can reportedly withstand temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit and can be found growing wild in most of the United States west of Texas and south of New York. In frosty areas, the foliage will die back but the roots will remain. This makes incarnata a good grafting stock for other species of passiflora. New growth generally begins again in May, hence the name maypop. In a single season in good growing conditions, the vine is said to be capable of putting on 20-30 feet of growth. Most growers prune the plants to prevent crowing while also harvesting fresh herb. As an ornamental, it is ideal for decorating structure such as fences, lattice, trellis and mailboxes and will thrive in almost any soil as long as it is well-draining. It has the added benefit of attracting hummingbirds. Plants can be propagated by cuttings, layering or seeds. The seeds can be collected from the fruits that have fallen from the vine and dried. Be sure to mulch the roots in the fall to protect them from the cold. The flowers are used fresh or dried to make a relaxing tea that is useful for anxiety relief, insomnia and digestion problems. It is also considered an aphrodisiac for both sexes. Passiflora incarnata has been long been valued in traditional herbal medicine and is still widely available today in a variety of forms that include bagged teas, tinctures and liquid and solid extracts. Purple passion flower contains at least one MAOI and should not be consumed along with certain foods or drugs.
Growing Information: Passiflora seeds are known for long and stubborn germination. Seeds may be cold stratified for four weeks in the fridge prior to planting if desired. Natural cold stratification can be provided by sowing seeds outdoors in the fall. Other growers will prepare the seed by soaking it in water or juice for 24 hours prior to planting. The acids in the juice are meant to help break down the seed coat. Vinegar has also been used for this purpose. Sanding the seed coat a bit may also help achieve a similar result. Plant the seeds about 1/2? deep in a damp, well-draining medium. Sowing in a moist paper towel that is placed in a zipper baggie has proven successful. Keep at a temperature of about 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit using bottom heat if possible. Germination can take several weeks to several months. Established plants prefer bright light.
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