Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Plant Find: Two new trellis climbers

I lured my wife into yet another plant-inspired weekend road trip.  It's really not that hard to lure my wife into road trips.  This weekend we took a drive a little over an hour north to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to visit a plant nursery that I had heard about from another plant blogger that lives in Oklahoma.  Martha from All the Dirt on Gardening suggested I visit Bustani Plant Farm for a little variety.

The Bustani Plant Farm has a great selection of plants that tolerate the heat and humidity of an Oklahoma summer and they have the appropriate motto "Grow something different."  Many of their plants I had not seen available anywhere else.

I bought about 10 different plants, including some perennials for the corner garden and some tropicals that I will have to overwinter indoors or in a greenhouse.  The two coolest plants I walked away with are Spanish Flag (Ipomoea lobata) and a Hybrid Passionflower (Passiflora x alatocaerulea 'Pfordtii').  These plants are both tropical climbing plants that like full sun.  I hadn't really planned where I would put the plants when I got home.  I just knew that I had to have both of them.  :)

I found some nice-looking, inexpensive wooden trellises and mounted them to the back fence for these two plants to climb this summer.  I mounted the trellises in such a manner that I can remove them easily this Fall and leave the brackets in place.  My wife can help me carry the trellis (with plant attached) while I carry the pot and we can keep each plant alive indoors over the winter and then bring them back outdoors again next Summer.  I imagine the Passionflower will be pretty hard to remove from the fence, due to the clingy tendrils it forms.  I had quite a difficult time just separating my little plant from the other plants next to it at the nursery.  I might have to monitor it throughout the summer, making sure that it is clinging tightly to the trellis but discouraging it from clinging to the fence.

Hybrid Passionflower (Passiflora x alatocaerulea ‘Pfordtii’) growing on trellis along back fence.  See all of the swollen buds, ready to open?

I had pored over the pictures on the Bustani Plant Farm website before my visit and was really happy to see that the plants were of great quality when we arrived.  My Passionflower is already blooming and looks every bit as cool as the picture on the website.  Passionflowers, in general, just look like made-up, imagined plants to me.  It doesn't seem like they could be real.  Every time I see one I think, "Surely, that's fake!"

Hybrid Passionflower (Passiflora x alatocaerulea ‘Pfordtii’) bloom - simply amazing! Notice the alternating sepal colors - green to purple.
The sepals of the bloom alternate from purple to pale green/white.  This is an interspecific hybrid, which means that it was bred from two different species (P. alata and P. caerulea).  It does not produce any seed, but supposedly blooms more because it does not have to put energy into the production of fruit.  Bustani also had a Passionflower that is a hardy perennial in my zone, but I really wanted to try this hybrid with the different coloring.  I brought one of the hardy blue Passionflowers back for my mom, so we'll get to enjoy that variety as well.

Spanish Flag (Ipomoea lobata) growing on trellis along back fence.
The other climber I mounted along the back fence is the Spanish Flag (Ipomoea lobata, sometimes also called Mina lobata).  This plant is the in the Morning Glory family, along with the ornamental Sweet Potato Vines (Ipomoea batatas), the edible Sweet Potatoes, and the Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit).  It is a fast grower and attracts hummingbirds with its colorful display of red to orange to yellow to white flowers (see picture below).  The blooms are very different from other members of the Ipomoea genus, which otherwise seem to resemble each other.  My plant is not yet blooming, but is pretty healthy.  With all of the rain we have been receiving, I can already see some new growth.

What do you think of my new acquisitions?


  1. I LOVE the Passionflower blooms! They are insane. I agree that they look fake because they are so awesome and perfect! I'm also really excited about seeing the Spanish Flag bloom in the future! I think it's great that our fence is going to be terrifically trellisly in bloom!

  2. Great picks Zach, you can never go wrong with vines. I love vertical gardening!

  3. Wow! The Spanish flag will be beautiful on your trellis. And, the passion flowers almost look like a flower you would see singing in a Disney movie. :-)