Waiting, waiting …..


Surprisingly, the purple flowered hybrid passionflower (Passiflora x ‘Jeanette’, below) that was planted in early spring has just begun to bloom at the start of October. It is sterile, so it doesn’t develop seeds, and thus more energy is devoted to flowering so that it is supposed to flower over a more extended period than other passionflowers.

But, it is not ordinary for a passionflower to begin flowering so late in the year, and the native yellow passionflower (Passiflora lutea, below) that was planted at the same time bloomed on schedule in mid-summer. The trouble, which is really no bother at all, is that newly installed plants are quite unpredictable, and with varying soil and light conditions I wouldn’t be concerned it it didn’t flower at all in the first year. In fact, though ‘Jeanette’ grew vigorously in slightly damp soil and a bit less than full sun, the vine had showed no signs of flowering, so I had written it off for the year, and figured that I’d see the first blooms next July.

I’ve planted three passionflower vines in the garden, and only the native purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata, below) is provided with any type of man made support. The yellow and hybrid vines are allowed to scramble through neighboring shrubs with only a small amount of guidance on my part. When the hybrid passionflower had grown to eighteen inches tall in late spring I directed it up into the nearby paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha), and the yellow flowered vine was nudged up into a neighboring oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).

The yellow passionflower is planted in more shade, so it has not grown as vigorously as the purple hybrid, though I suspect this could be more the nature of both and not anything at all to do with sunlight or soil. The yellow passionflower bloomed for a month or longer, but the flowers are considerably smaller than the other passionflowers  and it’s unfortunate that I’ve planted it in a more out of the way spot where the blooms are difficult to see (or even to get to so that they can be seen close up).

‘Jeanette’ is planted at the edge of a path so that I pass by every time I walk through the garden, and for a  month or two I checked nearly every day for signs of flowers or buds. By late September I’d given up looking, or hoping for blooms this year, and now, nearly a month later, here they are. There are a few flowers and a few other buds that will open in the next week if temperatures don’t drop too low, just about the number of blooms I expected on the young vine, but a few months late. ‘Jeanette’ is often considered quite tender, though the grower where I purchased this vine said that cuttings were taken from a plant in much colder parts of Pennsylvania, so I’m confident it will not be harmed by the cold of northwestern Virginia.

In any case, it’s nice to finally see a few flowers. The blooms are similar to the purple flowered native, certainly no more delightful, and I’ll be anxious to see next summer if the flowering season is more extended than the native’s. Now, I’m encouraged even more to try some other cold hardy passionflower vines.

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