Passiflora Leaf Drop : What To Do For A Passion Vine Dropping Leaves

Passiflora Leaf Drop : What To Do For A Passion Vine Dropping Leaves

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Passion vine is one of the more attractive blooming plants. Their complex flowers are brilliantly colored and often lead to edible fruits. Passion flower leaf loss can be the plant’s response to a host of things, from insects to cultural incompatibility. Some clues regarding leaf drop on passion vine will help us sort out the causes and solutions.

Why is My Passiflora Losing Leaves?

Passion flower is an intricate blooming plant whose flowers were used to teach the Stations of the Cross. Several varieties are native to North America and many are hardy to USDA zones 7 to 10. Some varieties are tropical and not frost hardy, causing them to lose leaves during cold snaps and often die. If you find a hardy passion vine dropping leaves, causes may be fungal, insect related, or cultural.

Any time a plant experiences unusual conditions such as leaf drop, the first step is to look at its requirements and ensure they are being met. These plants need consistent water but well-draining soil, especially during flowering and fruiting.

Moderate feeding is also a good idea to promote strong root systems and promote blooms. An early spring feeding of 10-5-10 fertilizer should be applied just before new growth appears and followed by consecutive feedings every two months during the growing season. While this may not prevent passion vine dropping leaves, it will promote the formation of new foliage.

Disease and Leaf Drop on Passion Vine

Several fungal diseases can cause passion flower leaf loss. Among these, Alternaria leaf spot is one of the more common. This disease affects many types of plants, especially fruiting varieties. It not only causes Passiflora leaf drop but also necrotic fruit.

Anthracnose is another common disease. It stems from a fungus that attacks the edges of leaves and eventually stems. There are several fungicides that can be used to prevent the disease but once the fungus has taken hold, plants should be destroyed and a cultivar that is grafted on yellow passion vine rootstock should be planted.

Fusarium stem canker and Phytophthora root rot begin at the soil line and will eventually lead to leaf drop on passion vine. There are no EPA registered products for control of these diseases.

Passion Vine Dropping Leaves Due to Insects

The most common reason for a passion flower dropping leaves is through insect activity. Spider mites are very active during hot, dry periods. They are very tiny and difficult to see, but the webs they leave behind are a classic identifying characteristic. These insects suck the sap from the plant, both on the leaves and the stems. Reduction of sap will cause leaves to wilt and drop. Keep plants well watered and use a horticultural oil.

If there are brown sticky spots on leaves, the problem could well be aphids. They secrete honeydew, a substance that will also attract ants. These are also sucking insects that can adversely affect plant health. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oil, such as neem, are effective. You may also simply blast them off with water. Provide extra care for the plant as it recovers from any insect invasion.

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Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) are tropical, exotic-looking plants that add instant impact to any space. The showy blooms can be as large as 6 inches in diameter, depending on the species. In addition, many species grow quickly -- P. coccinea grows up to 20 feet in one year. Most species attract butterflies, and some even produce edible fruit. Appealing as they are, however, passion vines can suffer from a number of problems.


From the Tropical Plant to the Ones Found in the Supermarket

A biologist would tell you that the genus Passiflora belongs to the Passifloraceae family. And it is a big family! There are over 400 species of this extraordinary plant 1) ”The Encyclopedia of Fruit & Nuts” by Jules Janick and Robert E. Paull, book published by CABI in 2008 2) ”Systematics of Fruit Crops” by Girish Sharma, book published by New India Publishing Agency in 2009 .

The plants of this family are mostly climbers. There are certain species that grow as shrubs or trees, but they are not representative. It’s something rare to find a Passiflora that doesn’t grow everywhere it can. Of course, the flowers are amazing and the plant produces new ones daily, up to 9 months a year. Even more, some species encourage the presence of butterflies. You probably see it already as a dream garden flower. But it can be a real pain as well. Passiflora must be trimmed regularly, otherwise it will suffocate all the other plants.

Due to this tendency of climbing and suffocating other plants, it is considered a pest, some kind of weed in some areas, especially when it is out of control.

Most Passiflora species grow in South America and in tropical zones. Around 40 species grow in Australia, in the South-pacific Islands, Asia, and Madagascar.

Well, only 60 out of 400 species produce edible fruits 3) ”Systematics of Fruit Crops” by Girish Sharma, book published by New India Publishing Agency in 2009 . And they aren’t even the same type of fruits. They have different shapes, sizes, and tastes.

The fruits that reach the market come from the plants cultivated for commercial use. This generally includes the genus Passiflora edulis, which produces purple fruits, Passiflora edulis f. flavicarpa with yellow fruits, and species obtained from the crossing of the two species. If you haven’t realized it yet, edulis means edible in Latin.

If you have ever tasted a passion fruit, you surely must have noticed it has a slightly acid and spicy taste. Having a fairly strong aroma, it isn’t really everyone’s favorite. Some like it in deserts or when combined with other organic juices.


  • Scientific Name:Passiflora incarnata
  • Common Name (s): Purple Passionflower, True Passionflower, Maypop, Wild Passion Vine, Apricot Vine, Wild Apricot, Flesh-coloured granadilla, Passion Flower.
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): 5 to 10 / H6

Plant Details

  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Hardy perennial, Climbing vine
  • Plant Height: 5 to 8 feet (1.6 to 2.6 m)
  • Plant Spread: 2 1/2 to 6 feet (75 to 180 cm)
  • Blooms: Summer
  • Flower Details: Fragrant. 2.5 inches (7 cm) across. White Petals. Purple central crown filaments.
  • Leaf Foliages: Semi-evergreen. Alternate. Three lobed. Palmate. 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm).
  • Fruit: Late Summer, maturing into autumn. Oval. Showy. Green ripening to Yellow. Fleshy. Contains multiple seeds.

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight. Tolerates partial shade but must get direct sunlight for about six hours.
  • Suitable Soil Types: Well drained. Average to Rich loose soils.
  • Suitable Soil pH: Most soil acidities, 6 to 8 gives good results.
  • Soil Soil Moisture: Medium, but reliable moisture
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation:
    Seeds: Harvest fresh seeds from over-ripe fruit pulp, clean, and dry. Soak overnight in 5% alcohol solution or for 5 days in water. Discard any floating seeds. Sow at a depth of 1/3 inch (9 mm) in a flat. May take from one month up to a year to germinate at

80°F (27°C). Transplant seedlings in late spring once soil remains warm and frost-free. Space at 18 to 32 inches (45 to 80 cm).
Propagate: Root or Softwood stem cuttings in the spring and summer. Layer towards the end of summer.

  • Care: Medium Watering. Frost sensitive. Restrict root growth to improve blooming. Provide shelter from strong winds and cold weather (grow by a wall or use a Trellis). Can spread rapidly from its root suckers, control may be necessary in ideal (sunny) growing areas. Do not overly fertilize unless growing in a poor soil (blood fish and bone). Also consider a yearly feed with a 2-1-3 ratio of N-P-K if growing in soils that are not rich (only if plant is struggling to grow). Consider fan-training using bamboo plant canes if you require a more attractive plant than is seen in naturally climbing ones.
  • Further Information

    • Best used for: Containers. Grow on a Trellis, Wall, Arbour, or fence. As a cut flower. Attracting bees, Hummingbirds, and butterflies to the garden.
    • Miscellaneous: Maypop is named after the sound they make when you tread on the fruits. Eat fresh or make into a jelly. Passionflower leaves used to be fed to dogs as a traditional cure for the unsteady staggers. Passionflower tinctures were traditionally used to aid sleep. Fairly drought resistant.
    • Family: Passifloraceae
    • Closely related species and genera: Passiflora Plant Genus
    • Further Reading and References used for this Passiflora incarnata growing guide:NC State Extension Maypop Jam Recipe

    I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Passiflora incarnata plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Mimosa pudica and Asclepias plants.


    Watch the video: How to Grow Passion Passiflora Flower Vine From Seed. Fall Update