It's easy to understand why this plant is called a passion flower: it's so romantic, with its exotic flowers and beautiful form!
Many have shied away from growing these wonderful specimens, largely because they look as if they must be difficult to grow and also because they are not fully hardy.
My thoughts on these beautiful climbing plants changed several years ago, when I found friends and clients had planted them in their gardens, not knowing much about them (ignorance is bliss!) and they had survived even the most severe winters. But why is this?
Well, first of all they are not particularly difficult to grow, but it is the placement that is the important factor. Grown against a south or west facing sunny wall, pergola, trellis or fence, they will live happily for many years: they need protection from cold winds, damp, and frosty weather.
Because our winters have been so much warmer of late, plants that would otherwise have been killed are being grown successfully in many gardens. However, it is still important to buy the correct variety of passion flower if it going to have any chance of survival.
The type of passion flower that will cope with our winters are the 'Passiflora caerulea' - the blue/common variety and one called 'Constance Elliot', which is a creamy, white variety. Another frost-hardy variety is 'Eden', which is deeper in colour.
These varieties will survive temperatures down to -7 degrees. Many others that you see will die at temperatures below 7 degrees, so check carefully before you buy.
Here they are, with other climbers that go well with them.
If you decide to go for one of these plants, follow the advice and see how it goes. Remember - correct placement is the key.
If you would like to grow other climbing plants in combination, try going for the deep pink, mauve or purple clematis, and likewise roses . These pick up the colour of the delicate mauve and purple markings at the centre of the flower.
Border plants can also be used close by to enhance the colours of the stamens and petals: use the lime greens of euphorbia, hostas, and the heuchera 'Lime Marmalade'; the beautiful tall purple campanula 'Pritchard's Variety', the many varieties of salvia and the tall nepeta 'Six Hill's Giant; the deep mauve of the penstemon 'Pensham Plum Jerkum', astrantia 'Hadspen Blood' and heuchera 'Plum Pudding'.
As always, with planting combinations, just check that the plants you are grouping together actually flower at the same time!
For a whole range of plants to go with your passion flower, try the Crocus Plant Search which has lots of additional information on height and spread, planting and care.
Aim to build a framework of about 5 of the strongest shoots, and cut back flowering shoots, immediately after flowering, to 2-3 buds from the base.
In Spring, remove dead or overcrowded stems.
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