passifloras - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Linda Spear
Mesa, Ar
Question by doggienurse
November 27, 2009
Do passifloras do well in the Arizona heat? Do they fill in thickly on an arbor? The tag said that they will bear fruit if pollinated, do they need to be hand pollinated or will they pollinate each other if more than 1 plant grows on the arbor? Can you mix different varieties and still have them pollinate?

Answer from NGA
November 27, 2009


Certain varieties of passion flower vines will do well and even bear fruit in the lower desert. Plants do better in general with afternoon shade in the summer and with a protective microclimate in the winter. The best fruiting varieties for Phoenix are Blue Crown, and Incense. The flavor of Incense is the best, followed by Blue Crown. However, Incense will need hand pollination to fruit. Blue Crown is the most cold resistant, followed by Incense.

To pollinate by hand, break a square stamen off of one of the flowers and rub it on the trumpet like stigma of the other flowers.

I think the best choice for your garden is Incense (Passiflora incarnata x cincinnata). This plant is able to take the Phoenix summer heat with a bit of afternoon shade. Being hardy to 30 F., it will reliably resprout in the spring if frozen to the ground. The ability to lay dormant over the winter is inherited from its seed parent P. incarnata (aka the Maypop). In fact P. incarnata is so resilient that it grows natively in the South Eastern U.S., and has the hardiest roots of all passion flowers. Incense is recommended for our lower desert climate by Sunset Western gardening handbook. Strong smelling sweetly scented flowers are followed by tasty yellow fruit. This plant needs cross pollination, and possibly hand pollination to fruit, since its native pollinators are not present in Arizona.

Blue Crown (Passiflora caerulea) is a vigorous grower which tolerates summer heat well if given some afternoon sun protection. Once well established it has been known to successfully extend itself into full sun. It is recommended by Sunset Western gardening handbook for our lower desert climate.

Being hardy down to 15 F., there is no reason for concern about frost damage in Phoenix. Its roots can withstand even colder temperatures, so this plant is even a candidate for many mild winter climates where the ground does not freeze hard. Its blue, black, white flowers smell minty, and are self fertile producing distinct orange fruit with red pulp. Fruits are not very palatable fresh but can be combined with other foods and juiced to add an interesting flavor. The flavor is somewhat berry like.

Hybrids of Blue Crown also do well in Phoenix such as: P. alatocaerulea (aka Pfordtii) - A non-fruiting variety very common in local nurseries. White petals, Lavender crown. Lavender Lady - Lavender petals, Blue crown. And, P. Violacea - Lavender petals, White crown.

You can plant both types together or choose to grow just one passionflower plant.

Hope this information is helpful.

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