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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Passiflora great butterfly attractor

By Staff | May 11, 2016

There are more than 480 species of passiflora. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata and/or suberosa)

First impression: Efferial, exotic, shades of lavender, five petal flowers that remind me of orchid blooms on a vine. Super soft green leaves are large about 6 inches with three lobes. This trailing vine has thin long tendrils that attach itself easily to any surface or protrusion. Butterflies are floating all around and laying their tiny eggs on the constant new growth. Need a little zing in your life? Plant these emotion evoking flowers in your garden.

Upon further investigation: The passiflora species consist of 480 plus varieties. That is a whole lot a passion! Our native vines generally bloom in the spring and throughout the summer months. Depending on the species, the flowers can range in size from 1/2 inch to 6 inches across. But, why plant exotics when you have my two favorite native species of passion vine to enjoy?

Try Passiflora subersoa, also called corky-stemmed for its small flowers, and the Passiflora incarnata, also called Maypop for its large showy flowers. I like to companion plant these two together so that I can have different textures, fruit, and flowers. The beautiful flowers are in different hues of lavender, green and white. They are perfect for our tropical temperatures and coastal areas. Plant in partial shade to full sun in a well drained area.

It is a must for butterfly gardeners, because it is the host plant for three Southwest Florida butterflies – gulf fritillary, zebra longings, and julia. Host plants are specific plants, which butterflies lay their eggs on. Just this week, I counted oodles of gulf fritillaries flying all around my vines daily. If butterflies aren’t enough, there is nothing quite like a passion flower, no one can resist stopping, touching, smelling or collecting pollen from this beauty.

Easy to propagate you will find this vine emerging all over. I routinely edit and pull up runners where they should not be. The fruit is green ripening to yellow and add to the vines adornment. In days long ago, flowers and fruit have been morphed into multitudes of varieties. Just one look at the blossom and you can imagine centuries of adoration. Present day, we use this beauty for our enjoyment and a must have habitat plant in our gardens.


Unique orchid like blooms

Does well in sandy soil

We can all use a little more passion

Likes full sun

Sweet soft fragrance

Host plant for three butterflies

Pollinators love it

Native plant

Oodles of butterflies fluttering all around it


Can be aggressive grower

Re think/tolerate caterpillars and nibbled leaves

Count your flowers, neighbors will steal them

Conclusion: I am passionate about my passionflower. Being beautiful, must be nice, how could anyone say “NO” to such a gorgeous flower? Now we have the perfect flower to put us in the mood in your tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!