July 22, 2024

How to Propagate Passionflower Vines

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If you love passionflowers, why not start more vines of your own? Learn how to propagate passionfruit from seed, via cuttings, and more on Gardener's Path.

A vertical close up shot of a purple passionflower in bloom. Green and white text spans the center and bottom of the frame.

I don’t know how it’s possible to have enough passionflower vines. The flowers are so beautiful, the fruits are fabulous, and the plant is a medicinal powerhouse.

The flowers have been described as alien-like, magical, and even “exotic,” though they’re native to North America, so homegrown would be more accurate.

Then there are the fruits. Hands down, they’re one of my favorites.

Maybe it’s partly because passionfruits are in season for such a short time, but I dream about the tangy, fruity, sweetly complex flavor months before the little orbs plump up into flavor powerhouses.

A horizontal close up photo of a passionflower bloom with red petals and a bright purple center.A horizontal close up photo of a passionflower bloom with red petals and a bright purple center.

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I always promise myself that I’ll make passionfruit martinis, ice cream, and tarts, but I end up eating piles of them fresh off the vine more often than not. I also drink the leaf and flower tea by the bucketful, especially when I need a good night’s sleep.

In other words, I have a lot of passionflower vines, and I would have more if I had the space.

Maybe you aren’t quite the passionate passionflower person that I am, but, come on, in my opinion everyone should all have at least one!

If you have an existing vine you’d like to propagate, or maybe a neighbor has a stunning passionflower that you covet, you’re going to want to dip your toe into the world of passionflower propagation.

Another fantastic thing about passionflower? It’s easy to replicate.

This guide will run you through everything you need to know, from top to bottom, about propagating passionflower vines.

Passionflower Propagation Methods

  • From Seed
  • From Cuttings
  • Grafting
  • Layering

Though they’re easy to propagate, passionflowers are slow-growing, whether you start from seed, cutting, grafting, or layering.

They just take their time. So we might as well get started right away with the slowest method of all:

From Seed

Growing passionflowers from seed takes a lot of patience, but as with many time-consuming tasks, it’s extremely satisfying. It’s even more satisfying if you’re successful because this is the least reliable method.

It doesn’t matter when you start this process because it can take months before you can put the seedlings in the soil. The best time is whenever you have access to fresh seeds.

I usually start my passionflower seeds in the fall for planting out in spring.

You can either buy seeds or harvest them from ripe fruits. Fresh is best because the seeds lose viability quickly.

If you do opt to collect your own seeds, sow them as soon as possible after harvest to increase the chances of germination.

Also, be aware that seeds from hybrid passionflower plants might be sterile, and if they do germinate they likely won’t grow true to the parent plant.

A horizontal shot of several passionfruit cut open with the seeds exposed.A horizontal shot of several passionfruit cut open with the seeds exposed.

To collect your own seeds, look for a ripe fruit from a healthy vine and scoop out the flesh and the seeds. Place the seeds and pulp in a jar and add a splash of water. Let the seeds sit in the pulp at room temperature for three days.

After three days, pour out the water, rinse the seeds thoroughly, and place them on a towel to dry out if you aren’t starting right away.

Once they’re completely dry, store them in a cool, dark area or in a refrigerator until you’re ready to sow. The seeds can be stored for up to six months, though it’s best to start them immediately.

If you’re working with previously harvested and stored seeds, soak them for 48 hours in room temperature water. You can skip this step if you’re sowing right after soaking the seeds and pulp.

Remove them from the water and rough up the exterior of the shell of each seed with a nail file or medium grit sandpaper.

Place the seeds in a moistened peat substrate in a bag and seal it. Place the bag in the refrigerator for between two and four months to cold stratify the seeds.

After stratification, fill a three or four-inch container with seed starting mix and moisten it thoroughly. Poke the seed two inches deep into the soil and cover. You might want to sow more than one passionflower seed per pot on the assumption that one won’t germinate.

Place the container on a heat mat that will keep the soil at a temperature between 70 and 85°F. Cover the containers with a plastic bag or piece of plastic to help them retain humidity.

The seeds don’t need light to germinate, but it’s best to place the pots in an area with bright, indirect light. That way, when the seeds germinate, they’ll have light to reach toward. Keep the medium moist at all times.

Mark the date on the calendar and take up knitting or something to pass the time.

It can take up to six months for passionflower seeds to germinate, though it might happen in as little as six weeks, depending on the species, temperature, and the whims of the seed gods.

Seeds from the same passionflower plant in the same conditions might germinate at different times, so don’t worry about it if not every seed you sowed pops its head out simultaneously.

After germination, when you start to see green growth and at least two sets of true leaves, move the containers into direct sunlight for six to eight hours per day. Do this gradually over a few days.

Once the passionflower seedlings are six inches tall, harden them off outside for a week. To do this, wait until after the last predicted frost date in your area and place the seedlings in a protected area outdoors in full sun.

Let them sit there for an hour, and then bring them back inside. The following day, place the seedlings out for two hours, then three hours the following day, and so on.

If at any time the temperatures approach freezing or there’s hail in the forecast, bring the seedlings indoors immediately.

A horizontal photo of a small passionflower seedling in a four-inch nursery pot held sideways.A horizontal photo of a small passionflower seedling in a four-inch nursery pot held sideways.

After hardening off, they’re ready to be planted in the garden.

If you aren’t familiar with the kind of conditions that passionflowers need to thrive, you can find full details in our growing guide.

To transplant, you will need to amend your soil by working in some well-rotted compost. I firmly believe that any soil can benefit from the addition of compost.

Dig a hole the same size as the growing container, remove the seedling from the pot, and gently place it in the hole. Firm up the soil around the seedling and water it in well.

Whew. That was a long process, but you’ve reached the end, and now you can enjoy those alien-looking flowers, right? Right?

Sorry, it can take up to 10 years for a passionflower vine grown from seed to flower, so you have to practice a little more patience. At least you can enjoy the elegant foliage in the meantime.

I’ll tell you what, once those flowers do pop up, you’ll be feeling pretty darn accomplished.

From Cuttings

One of the advantages of taking cuttings over starting seeds is that the new plant will be identical to the parent. The new plant will also flower sooner.

Cuttings should be taken in the spring after the foliage has emerged but before flowering.

Before you take a cutting, make sure that the passionflower plant you’re taking a cutting from is healthy and free from pests and disease.

If it has any signs of pests or diseases, like spotted leaves, discoloration, or stunted growth, don’t use it. Cuttings from sick or diseased plants won’t grow well, and in the case of disease, it can carry over to the new plant.

A horizontal shot of passionflower cuttings ready to be propagated, with a pair of snips lying to the left.A horizontal shot of passionflower cuttings ready to be propagated, with a pair of snips lying to the left.

Softwood cuttings tend to work best, but you can use hardwood if you wish.

Either way, find a length of stem with short internodes, which is just a fancy way of saying that the leaves should be close together. The leaves should also be healthy and robust.

Before you pull out the clean, sanitized clippers, fill three- to four-inch pots with a soilless starting medium.

Coconut coir and vermiculite, finely shredded sphagnum moss and perlite, or something similar is ideal.

A vertical product photo of a bag of Tank's Pro-Lite Potting mix.A vertical product photo of a bag of Tank\'s Pro-Lite Potting mix.

Tank’s Pro-Lite Seeding & Potting Mix

Tank’s Pro-Lite Seeding & Potting Mix is a perfect option, with organic compost, organic coconut coir, and perlite. Pick up a 16-quart bag at Arbico Organics.

Take a six-inch cutting just below a leaf node. If you look at the stem and see that it is hollow, take a cutting from a different stem.

Remove all the leaves from the bottom three quarters of the cutting. You only want to keep one or two leaves at the top because the rootless cutting can’t support too many leaves at this point.

Moisten the potting medium and insert the cut end an inch or two deep. It needs to be deep enough that the cutting stays upright without support.

Cover the pot with a tented plastic bag or a dome, making sure that it doesn’t touch the top of the cutting. You may need to prop up the plastic baggie with some chopsticks.

Place the passionflower cuttings in an area with a temperature that stays about 75°F but out of direct sunlight.

Humidity is important with passionflower cuttings. Keep that plastic over the cuttings, or use a humidifier, and maintain even moisture in the soil.

While it could happen in as few as three months, it can take up to four months for the roots to establish. So long as the cutting is still alive, just let it do its thing, keeping the soil moist.

Once you see new growth, it’s a good bet that roots have formed, but not a guarantee.

To check, gently lift out the passionflower cutting and examine the base. If you see roots, go ahead and put it back in the medium. If not, use a razor to rough up the base or smash it with a small hammer.

Passionflowers may form a callus at the base of the cutting that prevents them from rooting, so you need to break up the callus.

Check again every few weeks to see if roots are developing. When you have roots and new growth developing, gradually move the cutting into full sun over the course of a week.

A horizontal photo of a passionflower cutting rooted in water.A horizontal photo of a passionflower cutting rooted in water.

Wait until the plant is about a foot long, staking it upright if necessary. At that point, you can plant it outside after a week of hardening off, so long as there isn’t a freeze in the near future.

To harden off a cutting, it’s the same process as for seedlings: move it into the spot where you wish to plant it for an hour and then bring it back inside.

Don’t do this on a day with strong wind or extreme heat. Bring it back in and then add another hour outside the next day. Keep adding an hour each day for a week.

Grafting

If you’re familiar with the process, or if you just have an adventurous spirit, grafting is another possible way of propagating passionflowers.

It’s important to start with healthy passionflower plants. If your vines are having any problems with pests, disease, or just unimpressive growth, don’t use those specimens.

You’ll need both a scion and rootstock for this process. Many people start their rootstock using seeds and then choose the scion, which is the top part, from plants out in the garden.

Look for a vigorous plant with lots of healthy growth. Take a 12-inch cutting from the end of a vine. It needs to be pliable, green, and healthy.

Stick the end in a cup of water to keep it moist. Grab a scalpel, grafting knife, or craft knife, along with a pair of clippers, and wipe them down with isopropyl alcohol.

About nine inches above the soil line cut off the stem of your rootstock plant just below a leaf node. Use your cutting implements to make an inch-deep slice down the center of the stem.

Take the cutting and slice off two sides at the base an inch long so it ends in a point. It should look like a “V.” Insert this “V” into the cut you made in the rootstock stem. Bind it with garden tape to hold the two parts together firmly.

Insert a stick or other support next to the stem and affix it to the stem using string. This provides support as the graft grows together.

Moisten the soil and put the plant in a place with bright light. This can be indoors or out, but if it’s outside, it needs to be in an area protected from wind.

After new growth develops from above the graft point and the weather is amenable, put the plant in the ground after a week of hardening off.

Layering

I saved the best for last. Layering is my favorite propagation method because it’s relatively quick, and the new passionflower vine has support from the parent as it develops, meaning less chance of failure.

A horizontal close up of a passionflower vine without blooms growing in the garden.A horizontal close up of a passionflower vine without blooms growing in the garden.

To do this, take a healthy passionflower vine in spring and remove the leaves and any blossoms from a foot-long area in the middle.

There should be no foliage or flowers on any part of the stem that touches the ground because the leaves can cause rot or other problems.

Lay the vine on the ground and bury it in a mound of soil about an inch deep. If it won’t stay put, weigh the section down with a rock or other anchor.

Within a few months at most, you’ll see green growth emerging from the buried area. Voila! You have a new plant.

All you need to do now is snip it away from the parent and dig up the new growth. Make sure to dig down at least six inches deep and wide to take up as much of the newly developing roots as possible.

Transplant to your desired location.

The More Passionflowers, the Better!

I’m firmly of the belief that you can never have too many passionflower vines.

Whether you’re growing them for the flowers, the edible fruits, to calm your anxiety, all three, or another reason entirely. There’s always a good reason to have lots of passionflowers around.

A horizontal photo of a bunch of passionflower blooms in a wicker basket.A horizontal photo of a bunch of passionflower blooms in a wicker basket.

And once you have one, why stop there? I certainly haven’t. I have a white-flowered ornamental variety that I started from cuttings that crawls over my fence.

There’s also the fruit-producing passionflower plant I started from seed and then trellised over old grape wires. Don’t forget the potted specimen livening up my patio. I have multiple in my yard. So should you!

What kind of passionflower are you starting? And how will you do it? Let us know in the comments section below.

And for more information about growing passionflowers in your garden, learn more about them in these guides:

  • 7 Common Reasons Why Passionflower Fails to Bloom
  • How to Overwinter Passionflower Vines Inside or Outdoors
  • Fertilize Passionflower Vines to Boost Growth and Production

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