Sunday, November 3, 2013

Stringing up passionflower vine

Last December Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville, one of my favorite nurseries, had a 50% off sale, and one of the plants I bought was a passionflower hybrid called ‘Blue Eyed Susan’ (Passiflora × ‘Blue Eyed Susan’). I was super excited because the flowers look incredible.

When I bought it, it was just a small thing in a 4-inch pot, and I planted it at the base of one of the front porch posts, behind a clump of ‘Knee High’ echinacea. It took a long time to get started, probably because it was overshadowed by the echinacea during much of the growing season. (I choose this location specifically because I wanted the roots of the passionflower to be shaded by the echinacea so the ground stays relatively cool and moist, conditions Passiflora prefers.)

However, after I trimmed back the echinacea last month, my passionflower went into overdrive, its inquisitive vines extending in all directions. It was time to do something.

131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_before_02

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131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_before_04

131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_before_05

I wanted to create the illusion of the vines climbing up the post and downspout and dangling from the overhanging roof section. Unfortunately, the vines aren’t able attach themselves to the post per se, so I needed to rig up something for them to grab onto.

131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_02  131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_03

My solution was very simple. I attached some eye hooks at the bottom of the post and several more above it and ran lengths of sturdy twine. Then I coaxed the vines around the line, hoping they would now know where to go.

131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_04  131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_05

131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_06  131102_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_07

I’m not the handiest person in the world, so this isn’t the most elegant solution but I’m hoping it will do. In hindsight, galvanized steel wire like this might have been sturdier and more durable. If anybody has first-hand experience with such an application, please leave a comment below. There’s still time for me to redo my setup if needed :-).

UPDATE NOVEMBER 17, 2013:

Based on the feedback I received, I decided to use something stronger than twine. After going back and forth between white plastic chain (like this) and powder-coated green metal chain, I went for the latter. It is attached using 2 1/8” ceiling hooks—at the bottom to one of the porch posts and at the top to the roof overhang. I think this will be a good solution for many years to come.

Here is the final result:

131117_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_01 131117_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_02 

131117_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_03 131117_Passiflora-x-Blue-Eyed-Susan_04

2 comments:

  1. In my climate twine (assuming it's natural fibers) lasts a season, maybe a full year before it breaks down and becomes too weak. If the Passiflora stays around all-year for you, I'd suggest replacing the twine with wire as you suggested. Here the vines die to the ground each year, so new twine each year is easy (although I use wire for most of my vines).

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  2. Hi Gerhard - we have used white chain (they have lots of sizes at Home Depot) - it looks good, gives them something to twine through and doesn't stretch...

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