Story and Photos by Yvonne Lelong Bordelon

Passiflora caerulea, a native of Brazil and Argentina, is a fast growing, semi-evergreen flowering vine that is quite cold hardy and will come back from the roots after hard freezes. If the showy, exotic flowers are cross-pollinated with another species or cultivar, blue passionflower vine will produce egg-shaped orange fruit.

Many gardeners grow this gorgeous plant on arbors and fences to attract butterflies. Gulf fritillary and zebra longwing caterpillars eat the dark-green palmate leaves. The vine is both deer and drought resistant.

Good companion plants include other passionflowers, such as native maypop (P. incarnata) and tropical P. edulis ‘Purple Possum’. All are good for cross-pollinating, bear lovely flowers and tasty fruit, and will provide plenty of caterpillar fodder. 

Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: Blue passionflower, white passionflower
Botanical Name: Passiflora caerulea
Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: ‘Chinensis’ (pale blue flowers); ‘Constance Elliott’ (fragrant white flowers); ‘Grandiflora’ (8-inch flowers); ‘Regnellii’ (very long coronal filaments); and hybrid passionflower (P. alato-caerulea aka P. pfordtii)
Zone(s): 7-11
Color: Blue and white
Blooming Period: Late spring to summer
Type: Perennial semi-evergreen vine
Mature Size: 15-20 feet
Exposure: Full sun to part-shade
How to Plant: Plant in spring in loose, moist, well-drained soil near a trellis or fence. Propagate by seed, cuttings of 4-6-inch stem tips, root cuttings, or layering in spring and fall. Water deeply, but infrequently, to establish a deep root system.
When to Prune: Late winter or early spring pruning will promote new growth and blooms.
When to Fertilize: A little compost or manure in early spring is best, as fertilizer will cause more foliage and fewer blooms.
In Your Landscape: Blue passionflower vine adds vertical interest and is a lovely addition to the pollinator garden.

A female gulf fritillary butterfly lays eggs on the tendrils of a blue passionflower.
The mass of black spines on this gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillar look fierce, but are actually harmless.
As a defense mechanism, the caterpillars crawl some distance away from the host plant, onto another plant or even a structure, to form a chrysalis.
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