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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Denny

Herbs to Grow 3


Passiflora incarnata, Passifloraceae. Passionflower is a native vine to the southeastern United States, with gorgeous flowers and interesting foliage. It is weedy in much of its native range and fairly easy to grow elsewhere, especially if given a wall or trellis to climb. The leaves and flowers are an important nervine sedative and are used to help promote sleep and alleviate pain, such as menstrual cramps and headaches. Passionflower is a short-lived, perennial herbaceous vine. Plant 3 feet apart and trellis, it will grow up a 5’ fence or trellis by the end of summer. Passionflower loves full sun, and will bloom more profusely, especially if you live further north. If you live in a hot climate, consider planting passionflower where it will get shade by mid-afternoon. Plant in well drained to average garden soil. Hardy to Zone 6, frost-tender. Scarify the seeds by rubbing them between sandpaper and then place them in damp sand in the refrigerator for one to two months. Be patient, sometimes it may take months for the seeds to sprout, and germination may not happen all at once. Bottom heat, a warm greenhouse, or planting in late spring will all enhance germination. Passionflower will spread throughout the garden if it’s happy, which may make you happy, or not very, depending on how big your garden is. Its easy enough to pull up any runners emerging in an inopportune location, and either transplant them or give them to your uptight neighbor. And then just when you think you cannot contain the vines’ exuberance, and begin to see it as a nuisance, it will up and die from heartache. Actually, it is just a short-lived perennial, no need to take it personally –you may simply need to replant it after three years or so. For more on the ecology and medicine of passionflower, please see my article, and here is my article on saving passionflower seed.

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