Do I love, love, love this vine. And I am so proud that something this ridiculously showy could be native to Texas. It has proven to me that wildflowers don’t have to be rustic (and I do like rustic).
After my failures with the Passionflower ‘Incense’, which was repeatedly chomped on by caterpillars, I decided to try another type. This is definitely the more frequently-grown kind, and the showier. Passionflower incense–i.e., passiflora edulis–has smaller leaves, and smaller flowers which are pale purple whose petals sort of fly backwards, rather than splay out. Passionflower incarnata, however, takes over with just a little bit of sunshine.
Seriously, I did not water this plant for 3 months of its first summer, other than the first week it was planted. And did it grow, covering about a 25-foot long fence and starting to climb up our barn. I’m hoping beyond hope that it doesn’t turn into another aggressive vine like trumpet vines, which I’m desperately trying to get rid of and yes, have resorted now to chemical warfare, since the roots go down at least 2 feet and despite Pilates and all my Detroit strength, cannot get down there.
However, I don’t think I’d mind as much if this popped up somewhere else. It it just too pretty to miss, and its effortless care makes one feel rewarded for all the work of keeping things alive in Texas.
And do butterflies love it, and bees, and anything that flies, really. It’s a banquet feast. And for whatever reason, it appears only one or two leaves here and there got eaten… I did see a few Gulf Fritillaries around it but maybe they were lured off to my Passiflora Incense to lay their eggs (which as I write has 2 leaves on it… is still alive, so maybe I’ll keep it on as bait!)
Sad to say, for the time being my bougainvillea adventures have come to an end. Every spring, the nurseries are overflowing with these lovely Central American beauties. They are the essence of Mexico… where they grow like mad and hang over awnings and buildings with their bright splash of color. Read more
A year after we were married we and a group of friends walked on an ancient pilgrimage path in northern Spain. Just before our arrival in Pamplona, we passed by a fence that was covered in passionflower vines. I stopped the entire group–about 12 of us–to marvel at just one of the flowers. All those tricks, special tricks, wheels and spins. It was a theatrical flower. Each bloom could’ve been a circus if it wasn’t purple.
After moving to Texas, I was surprised to learn that passionflowers were native here; I’d never seen anything like them in the midwest. So this passionflower holds the distinction of being the very first plant I bought to put in my garden.
This particular vine, I’ve since discovered, is different from the ‘passiflora incarnata’ that has big leaves and big flowers. It’s more petite, the flowers a little less glamorous, but smells wonderful and grows fast just the same. The main thing about this plant is that it can disappear within a few days from happy caterpillars. It took a beating last spring, sent out just a few cute flowers before it was covered every morning in chomping critters. After research I found out of course that these caterpillars just love this plant; it is their main food source. By the end of summer, their leaves were totally gone and the rest of the plant looked straggly in the heat.
I would love to have a plant for myself, and have read that some people buy extras–one for the butterflies and one for them.