Wilting, but willing


The foliage of the passion flower vine (Passiflora incarnata, flowering in August, below) has wilted. I can’t imagine that this vigorous native vine is in trouble, but I’ll be certain to give it a sip of water or two through the hot, dry weather that’s expected over the next week. I planted the passion flower five or six years ago, and every year there seems to be a different concern. It’s always slow to leaf, but a few years ago it didn’t leaf at all in the spring. I figured it was a goner, but it emerged from the ground late in July, and flowered in August.

Last year the passion flower grew and flowered exuberantly, but it began to sprout from roots in the middle of patches of salvia and toad lily six feet away, and between stones in the patio. The stray sprouts are easily plucked out, and they haven’t diminished the vigor of the main part of the vine that reached the top of its support a month earlier this year.  I expect that the wilting is temporary, but I’ll watch out for it over the next week.

This spring I planted two other cold hardy passion vines, and starting from a small container of roots they won’t grow as quickly as the more established plant, but they’re doing fine so far. I expect that they’ll get a few flowers in another month, and then I’ll be able to tell from the flower what it is that I ordered. I suppose that it’s sad that I don’t keep proper records of what I’ve planted, but I’ll figure it out eventually if it’s of any matter. In any case, I think that one of the vines is a yellow (I think Passiflora lutea) and the other is (maybe) white, but I’ll see soon enough. Many passion vines are native to the area, though I’ve never seen one in its native setting. Bumblebees seem to particularly enjoy them, and the flowers are quite wonderful.

I usually plant something and never pay another moment’s attention until it begins to blooms, but with a recent lack of rain and the onset of summer temperatures I’ll have to watch out for a few things I planted this spring. Yesterday I noticed that part of one of the Peruvian lilies (Alstroemeria, above) I planted has disappeared. It’s not unusual for a section of a Peruvian lily to turn brown after flowering, and they’re quite difficult to handle without damaging, but with the ground nearby cracking from the lack of moisture this seems likely to be the problem. 

The mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla, above) have been at peak bloom for several weeks, and the lack of ground moisture has caused the flowers to shrivel a bit. If we get some rain in the next week they’ll perk up, but if not, the flowers will quickly fade. Hydrangeas regularly wilt in the heat of the afternoon sun in the summer months, and usually they bounce back late in the evening. They prefer consistent moisture, but they survive nicely in my non-irrigated garden.

I don’t make a habit of watering plants through the summer, and I’ve found that once they’re established, most plants are more tolerant of dry soil than you expect. Most often I water new plants a time or two, or if I’m planting in the spring when there’s some soil moisture I might not water at all. Though I have no plans to water, I don’t take special care to plant drought tolerant plants. Most often (usually, sometimes?) I plant the right plant in the right place, but they’re more forgiving than you expect, so I rarely lose a plant that’s been neglected.

Most plants in the garden look fine, not at all wilted, but the draining of color from vigorous,  lush foliage is plain to see. The only plants that are happy in this severe heat and humidity are tropicals, and now is the time that elephant ears and bananas begin to take off. I expect everything else will somehow survive until rain and cooler temperatures arrive.

One Comment Add yours

  1. val says:

    I still remember coming upon a passion flower in a field as a child in SC. That may be why I am a gardener today! Mine flowered and even produced a fruit while it was in a pot, but since I planted it, it has been taking its time–hopefully it is getting established and will be full of blooms this year. Or, perhaps I am not giving it enough sun.

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