Exuberant Passion Vines
from August 1996
The Passionflowers are a large group of showy vines with decorative leaves and exquisite flowers prized by gardeners and hummingbirds alike. Many will grow rapidly over any structure, up a tree, grace a trellis or fence, or on occasion I've seen them as a fast growing groundcover 20' across. Our sunny coastal areas are ideal, yet inland they perform well given light shade in the afternoon, and regular feeding and watering when planted in a well-drained, compost-rich site. Maintenance in a small space will include annual pruning plus tying of selected branches into a horizontal position for maximum flowering. Caterpillars feed on leaves in spring becoming lovely Gulf Fritillary butterflies. Winter hardiness varies,but they are so fast growing, one could plant in spring and have a tremendous show throughout the summer and into fall.
Passiflora caerulea 'Constance Elliot' has five-parted, narrowly lobed, shiny leaves with pure white saucer-shaped blossoms. During the 1990 December freeze this survived outside at Nevin Smith's Wintergreen Nursery, where temperatures reached mimimums of 12 deg.F. some nights.
Passiflora 'Coral Glow'grows quickly displaying summer blossoms of deep magenta with slightly reflexed petals and sepals set against shiny green, three-parted large leaves. This loves heat, not surprising when you know its parents are from high altitudes in Ecuador, and will survive a light frost, but will not survive if the ground freezes.
Passiflora 'Elizabeth' is one of the recent hybrids by Patrick Worley, collector, lecturer and hybridizer. This very vigorous vine has large shiny green leaves and fragrant 4" purple blossoms with hundreds of frilly, folded filaments in the corona. It thrives in warm-summer conditions, with many more flowers than along the foggy coast. Hardy to about 25 deg. F.
Passiflora "jamesonii" (mixta x manicata) has smooth, broadly three lobed bright green leaves. In the sunlight, the almost bursting buds look like a glowing Tiffany lamp of bright coral red petals beside green sepals. My first memory of this is from a plant at U.C.Santa Cruz Arboretum covering a fence and cascading down a steep slope, absolutely covered in these brilliant little "lamps". Hardy to about 20 deg. F.
Passiflora 'Lavender Lady' is a stunning Patrick Worley hybrid, with many dark blue-green three-lobed leaves on a dense branch system. It seems to bloom most months for us here, with spectacular displays in summer and early fall. The 4" wide blossoms are bright lavender-purple on the petals and sepals, with brush like filaments of lavender-blue with a touch of white and maroon. It was undamaged at 20 deg. F.
Passiflora mollissima is called the Banana passion fruit. It is a rambunctious vine growing over any available support producing 3" bright pink blossoms with long tubes that hang from the stems most of the summer. These become delicious yellow fruits about 6" long. It has been seriously damaged at 25 deg. F.
Passiflora 'Exoniensis' has narrowly three-lobed leaves, almost the size of a human hand, of a rich dark green color. The flowers are an astonishing dark green and reddish brown on the outside and a brilliant electric deep pink inside, about 4" long and wide. We are unsure of hardiness, but Patrick Worley suggests it may survive a light freeze. Best to plant this beauty in a warm corner.