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A Native Chesapeake Vine to Make your Garden Shine

Are you searching for something different and entertaining?

This vine really makes a statement. Native in the Chesapeake watershed, maypop or purple passion flower vine (Passiflora incarnata) is easy to grow in full sun or part shade and adds pizzaz. The flowers look like dancing ballerinas more suited to the tropics than the mid-Atlantic. This vine is native to the eastern and southern U.S.

In our area, maypop is perennial and dies to the ground at first frost. It will easily climb a trellis by July. The flowers produce fruit as early as late June. The Missouri Botanical Garden says a jelly can be made from the fruits.  I have never tried that as I can’t resist showing everyone how the fruits “pop!”  If you want to get kids interested in gardening, this plant is extremely helpful.

Passion flower vine is host to the larva of several butterflies and the fruit is attractive to birds.

A growing note — ours is trained over a trellis. Occasionally, new tendrils of the plant pop up a few feet from the base and a little further from the trellis than ideal. We just pull those starts out – they are easy to pull and very manageable. The North Carolina Extension Service reports that it can be agressive. If you have any concerns, you may want to start it in a container.

A buying note — this information is for the native vine (Passiflora incarnata). It’s important to know which passion flower vine you are buying.  Some passion flower vines are described as growing up to 300′ a season … this native grows up to 25′ per season. Quite a difference!

More information:

Names and photos of the butterflies that use native passion flower as a host from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Kollar Nursery in northern Maryland says they will have this vine available in September.

See fruit pop:


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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