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Sunday - April 11, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seasonal Tasks, Vines
Title: Late emergence of passiflora incarnata hybrid in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Two years ago I planted in my clay soil garden a variation on native passiflora incarnata; the passiflora Elizabeth (a cross between passiflora incarnata and passiflora phoenicia)because I hoped it prove to be more drought-resistant here in Austin, Texas. It bloomed weakly the first year but sprouted vines vigorously. During last year's searing heat and drought, little growth and it barely bloomed (despite my burying a banana peel and sporadic applications of seaweed fertilizer). Now after February's snow and hard freeze, it's late March and I see no signs of life, just woody vine remanants. I have no experience with passiflora other than this plant. Is it dead? I see no green sprouting whatsoever. I have done no pruning and water with care not to overwater. Any advice as to how to care for it and, of course, to promote blooming, would be much appreciated. Thank you.


The only true native of the three mentioned is Passiflora incarnata (purple passionflower). All we could find out about cultivar 'Elizabeth' was what you already knew, that it was a hybrid of P. incarnata and P. phoenicia. Beyond that, it gets a little murky. We found only one mention of phoenicia and this was in Dave's Garden, a forum, where it was referred to as a cultivar 'Ruby Glow' of Passiflora incarnata (purple passionflower). The pictures with that site were of a reddish-purple flower, which could have been a sport or a mutation of the original species that was developed further by a commercial nursery. So, we are looking at a "double hybrid," making its true characteristics even harder to determine. However, we are of the opinion that the clematis is a late-emerging vine in the Spring, and the late frosts may have inhibited it even more, although it should still regrow from the corms or tubers, which are protected from freezes by the warm earth. On the subject of weak blooms, this plant needs full sun to really bloom well, although it will grow in part shade. And, cut out the heavy nitrogen applications. Nitrogen makes plants very happy, they leaf out heavily in response to it, but don't get around to flowering much. Native plants seldom need fertilizer, as they should already be accustomed to the soils and climate in which they are growing.  If the plant doesn't start showing some signs of life by May 1, it's dead.


From the Image Gallery

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

Purple passionflower
Passiflora incarnata

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