Monday, August 15, 2005

More passion

I learned several things over the past few days. First is that nurseries in this area have no clue what they're talking about when it comes to passiflora. Schumacher's Hill Country Gardens, which has a sterling reputation for native plants, seemed like a sure bet to get native p. incarnata, otherwise known as maypops. They had some passiflora, all right, but didn't know what species they were, where they'd come from, how they'd been propogated--nothing that would give me a clue as to their suitability for my needs. They only thing they could say was that they were "blue." I don't need any more p. incense, and p. carulea has poor fruit quality. So I took a pass. This experience was repeated at several other nurseries. Quite frustrating.

Despite my desire to support the area nurseries, I ended up buying a p. vitifolia (known as the crimson passionflower) at Home Depot. At least Home Depot identified their plants (although one labled as "Lavender Lady" could either have been p. amethyst, which I'd like, or the actual Lavender Lady, which is sterile, and I don't want. They're often confused, and without the actual species name on the plant...). The vitifolia may or may not survive here. It should overwinter without much problem, but it's originally from higher elevations of Central America, so the summer heat of Texas may prove too much. We shall water liberally and see if it survives.

Passion fruit are apparently out of season. I visited several grocery stores that have carried the fruit in the past, and none of them had any. Plenty of mangos, tho.

I eventually gave in to temptation and got some seeds off of eBay. Passiflora seeds are tempramental to grow if they're not very fresh, but at like $1.78 for two packets, I figure I can afford to take the risk. I've got some p. flavicarpa and p. edulis coming in the mail now. Flavicarpa is grown mostly in Africa, and makes a popular yellow fruit that is rarely seen in the U.S. but is sold commercially elsewhere. Edulis is the common purple passion fruit that is grown extensively in California and elsewhere. Both varieties should be able to handle the Texas climate--they don't like cold winters, so unless global warming suddenly reverses itself, they ought to make it through the brief, mild freezes we get in this area (heck, I've seen a bunch of bananna plants producing fruit these last couple of years). My in-laws (who gave us the p. incense to start with) tell me they've found a native maypop on their property outside of Bastrop, so the next time I'm out there I'm going to try and get a rooted cutting. Maypops will supposedly pollinate every variety I've got thus far, so that one's a good one to have--particularly since it is native and makes pretty good fruit.

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