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Passionate About Passion Flowers…

April 21, 2012

Have you ever taken a close-up look of a passion flower? I’m always amazed at how nature can create something so extraordinarily beautiful.

The Passiflora caerulea is the blue passion flower and has a real exotic appearance. Even though it originates from a tropical climate, the blue passion flower grows quite happily in our British climate. This lovely vigorous climber likes to be grown against a nice sunny warm spot against a wall or a sheltered fence in moderately fertile, moist but well drained soil. In return, it will bloom all summer long and look stunning and in milder areas this passion flower will keep its five lobed foliage throughout the winter.

This climber is also useful for autumn interest as it produces soft apricot coloured passion fruits, but as the fruits don’t ripen fully in this country and in theory could be edible, I really wouldn’t advise eating them. Another decorative feature of this plant is its winding tendrils, which will cling on to and help support this plant in its climb.

The flowers of the Passiflora caerulea are wonderfully intricate and are zoned in blue, white and purple and have an interesting historical tale. The structure of the flower was said by Spanish Catholic missionaries in South America to represent certain features of Christ’s Passion and this flower was used during religious lessons to teach children about Christ’s passion.

The five sepals and petals are said to represent the ten of the twelve apostles, less Peter and Judas. The three stigmas represent the three nails of the crucifixion, the five stamens are the five wounds of Christ, the corona filaments represent the crown of thorns and the fine tendrils are the scourges.

While some of us will be familiar with the common blue passion flower, there are even more colourful exotic varieties of passion flowers, but unfortunately they are tender and not hardy enough to be grown outside and will need a nice warm conservatory or heated greenhouse to keep them happy.

There are some gorgeous purple ones like Passiflora ‘Amethyst’ or Passiflora x caeruleoracemosa. There are some hot red coloured ones like Passiflora racemosa or Passiflora coccinea. One amazing passion flower is the Passiflora quadrangularis, Giant granadilla, which looks so exotic and unusual. It has deep red petals with long striped wavy filaments of purple and white fragrant flowers.

I’m truly passionate about passion flowers, and I hope you will be too.

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