Passionflower Vine is a Carefree Native Alternative to Invasive Vines
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Let me tell you why...
An easy way to nurture native nature is to replace invasive exotic vines such as English ivy or Chinese wisteria with the carefree host and nectar passionflower vine (passiflora incarnata). With its whimsical tendrils, rich green distinctively shaped leaves, and showstopping purple flowers more exotic looking than any finicky orchid, passionflower vine makes a striking seasonal groundcover where little else might grow as long as it gets some sun.
A few years ago I planted a small vine I bought at a Georgia Native Plant Society sale and now I have passionflower vine rambling on the ground, over fences, trellises, bushes, and up trees. Unlike greedy tree and bush killing English ivy or Chinese wisteria, passionflower vine doesn't kill its host because the vine dies back to the ground ever year.
Passionflower vine forms an extensive and deep underground root colony. New shoots often appear yards away from the initial plant. The shoots that pop up can easily be removed or relocated wherever they aren’t wanted. I’ve had the most luck transplanting passionflower in the early spring when shoots just start emerging. Getting as much of the deep main taproot as possible when digging the fragile offshoots seems to be key.
Traditional gardeners give passionflower vine’s exuberance a bad rap. Don’t listen to the haters! Once planted, I don’t need to spend any time managing my passionflower because no matter how many vines I let grow in my yard, by mid-September there never seems to be enough for the hordes of hungry gulf fritillary and occasional zebra longwing caterpillars who strip the leaves to the stem. In a world where gardening for nature is the goal, a popular native vine with pollinators that happens to also be a rambunctious grower is a welcome friend!