Passion vine

A year ago the passion vine (Passiflora, below) didn’t emerge from the ground until early in August, so of course it didn’t grow nearly as tall as is usual, and there were fewer blooms. This year the vine popped up by the end of May, a late arrival for most plants but normal for passion vine. Now, the support for the vigorous vine is nearly covered, and along side each set of leaves there is a bloom or bud ready to open in the coming weeks. I’ve attached lightweight wire cable up the column and across the edge of the ceiling of the summer shade house so that it can trail along to bloom as you pass under. My wife is concerned that the vine will flop down and require constant pruning (or ducking), and she is likely to be correct, but I think that it will work splendidly.

The passion vine grasps for support to climb with long tendrils, but the support must not be more than an inch in diameter or the tendrils continue their search for a more narrow support. The sturdy section of cable set a half inch from the post should work well, and the vine dies to the ground annually so weight should not be much of a factor. Passion vine grows quite rapidly, and the flower is unsurpassed. Even the more tropical types are no more beautiful than this one that is perfectly cold hardy into the mid-Atlantic.

Only a few fuchsia are marginally cold hardy in the mid-Atlantic region, and I’ve not been successful in having any survive for longer than a few years. Cape fuchsia (Phygelius, above and below) is unrelated, and barely similar in appearance, but it is unquestionably winter hardy in my garden. Unremarkable green, shrubby foliage emerges in late spring, and late in June the dangling blooms begin to show, with an effective display for a month or longer.

Cape fuchsia’s form is spreading and irregular, with upright stems and hanging clusters of tubular flowers. The blooms are not nearly so marvelous as the passion vine’s, but they are quite pleasing and a bit unusual.

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