The passion of the vine

I’ve been growing passion-flower (Passiflora) since the beginning of last summer.  Or should I say, I planted the seeds last summer and now I’m finding that some of the seeds are still sprouting.  I planted maybe 8 seeds in a big planter and really didn’t expect much because I’d heard they were hard to grow.  I left the planter outside, through last summer’s unusual driving rain and sunless days. After a few weeks, around the time I expected to see seedlings, all of the rain mixed with the soil and congealed into clear gelatinous globs.  I had a planter full of damp soil and jelly, until about two months later, when the first seedling popped up.

At first I thought it was a wayward sassafras seed that had taken root.  But as it vined upward I realized that I was in fact dealing with Passiflora! The lone seedling grew fast in the corner of the big planter and I bought it a tiny trellis to climb.  By the end of the summer I hoped it would have bloomed in one of the brilliant ways pictured here from Longwood Gardens and University of British Columbia Botanical Garden:

But as the vine grows on I see no crazy alien-looking flowers yet (actually the word “passion” in passion-flower comes from the way the flower looks like Jesus’ crown of thorns).

I brought the plant inside when the weather got chilly and I put it in one of those self watering lechuza pots.  And once I brought it in the vine really took off.  The trellis was quickly overcome and the Passiflora even tried to wrap its curly little shoots around my mother’s jade plant.  To my surprise though, some of the older leaves in the middle of the trellis shriveled up and turned yellow while the outer parts kept growing.

When I asked someone at my local garden center for advice on this, she said the plant naturally thins itself out in preparation for winter.  It knew it would be getting less energy from the sun and therefore didn’t need as many leaves for photosynthesis.  Talk about brilliant instincts! 

As if I hadn’t learned enough surprising things about this vine, all at once, about a month ago three more seedlings popped out of the soil and started growing like weeds.  That’s an 8 month germination period.  I don’t know what took so long for them to wake up but once the weather warms I think I need to find a home for all these vines.  I might keep one inside to climb up my bed railing. I’m not sure how well the plant does outside in this zone (6b) but if someone nearby wants to take one off my hands I’m open.  There’s four total.  I’m hoping this summer will bring blooms and maybe even some passion fruit.  

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