Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Prune or Not to Prune…..that is the question.

I have a multiple plant grouping on the old wooden swing set in our backyard. The first plant that comes into bloom is the shrub rose. It had been growing in the L** Memorial Butt Garden. The funny thing was it wasn’t planted… it just appeared. Since I didn’t need it in the “Butt” garden I moved it up to the swing set. It has thrived in this space. I have no idea what kind of rose it is other than it is not a rugosa, some kind of rambler. This blooms during the early summer and sporadically through the summer and a little again in the fall.

Fall blooms are from the Clematis paniculata, Sweet Autumn Clematis. As you all know, vines sleep, creep, then leap. I was worried about this one as the "leaping year" was also Hurricane Isabel. I was not sure about the survival of it after having been under water--salty water. She survived and flourished.

One day while I was upstairs on the main computer I looked outside and saw something blooming in the rose bush that wasn’t pink.

What was it you ask?

Look closely….

It was something I thought I had eradicated two years before. I pulled and sprayed Roundup and pulled and sprayed….well you get the idea.

Yes, a Passion Flower. Passiflora incarnata

It is a strangely beautiful flower but a real thug. It has been in place for two years …this time. I felt as though it was so interesting looking that I couldn’t get rid of it…. Well now the vine is larger than my thumb and there are multiple vines coming up from the soil. I want to get rid of it (again) and hope it doesn’t reappear.

The dilemma for me as a bird watcher is that the mass of vine/ shrub is next to my bird feeders. This is a perfect place for the birds to go for a little shelter or to hide from the hawks. The rose needs to be thinned and pruned back a bit. The Clematis has some dead branches that need to be removed. The Passion Flower needs to go away! I guess the birds will find a place to be safe….but it is really going to be a shock to them. I will have the truck to myself for about ten days next month, so it is the optimum time to prune and go to the dump. Watch out biridies!!!!


  1. I had to laugh. Several years ago I was ignorant enough to plant a passion vine, same species as yours. I swear it was going to swallow the house. I dug and cut. It's gone now but I know I need to keep vigilant because I've seen little opportunists trying to make a go of it in other places. Some vines just aren't worth it. Your rose is a beauty.

  2. I don't recall seeing anything in my pruning books about the best time being when you have the truck, but it works for me. It took me 3 years to rid myself of the passion vine. I planted it, turned my back and next thing I new it had eaten a Crape Myrtle and was all through my Hardy Orange. It was beautiful though.

  3. Your Rose is beautiful. Mine are dead leaves still. Nice to see things green and blooming. I planted a Passion Flower last year, but they die to the ground here for winter. Shouldn't have your problems.
    Garden Thyme

  4. I like the color combination of the passionflower and the rose - maybe they could reach some kind of understanding...

  5. Oh, goodness, the passion vine is robust, to be sure, but it's the host plant for Gulf Fritillary butterflies, and its flowers are a favorite of bumblebees for pollen and nectar.

    Perhaps you can point it towards a spot that's more manageable?


  6. I had to look very closely for that passion flower. I think that truck is going to get a workout-as is the gardeners. Beautiful rose on that swingset!

  7. Grace- It does grow quickly, though I don't remember it getting so thick last time it was in the yard. Most vines were pencil thick at most.
    Les- You don't remember seeing the timing on page for(d)? haha To think this was a 'gift' from a fellow Master Gardener!
    Debbie- The green leaves in the last photo are the passion flower, the rose is still bare. Hope yours isn't invasive.
    Phillip- It is that kind of thinking that got me into this dilemma! It does look nice together.
    Lisa- Well thanks for adding another wrinkle into the equation. I will still have some pruning that needs done....haven't completely decided on going back on the decision to rid the yard of the passion flower. Wish there was another host plant.
    Tina- I saw the white/ blue flower set-in from the upstairs window. In the field of pink and green it stuck out. The rose brambles are always a killer on the hands, arms, and other body parts.

  8. I love your blooming rose bush, I wonder where it came from? I sure would be delighted to find it my garden :)
    I think the passion flower is one of the most strangely beautiful flowers in existence and the most determined to take over the entire garden after you plant it. I planted it years ago, then gave it away because of its invasive nature. I still find suckers coming up in the garden.

    The Clematis is gorgeous too, so lush.

  9. Hi Janet, I laughed too. We have that passion vine and one year I let it run wild. That was a big mistake but now I pull all of them except one or two that can grow up the exbury azaleas. It is the host plant for the larvae of the gulf fritillary butterfly, something I don't want to be without. Maybe you have some growing in the surrounding areas too and the seed was dropped by birds? Do you have that butterfly? It is a dark orange with small black spots, a real beauty.

  10. MMG- Yes the rose is really lovely and I sure wish I knew from whence it came. Guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Think part of the charm of the Passion Flower is how strange it looks. People who have never seen it wonder if it is real.
    Frances- Looks like lots of us have a story about having one only to have it take over the garden. I did look up the Fritillary butterfly, hoping there was another host plant. In a quandry now as to what to do. I do think I will have lots of volunteer passion vines coming up for a while. Think I will get enough out to prune the other two.

  11. I love those passion vines, but I've avoided planting them for that very reason. SAC is aggressive enough without adding another rampant vine to the mix. I'm sure the birdies will find some cover until everything fills in again.

  12. Thank you for following and I look forward to reading your posts.
    Spending a bit more time in the garden now, so hopefully will be able to post again soon !

  13. Stopping by to say hi! I really miss sweet autumn clematis, which I grew in Chicago. I also had to remove my passion vine here in California, but only because it looked dreadful during the entire wet season, and I couldn't bear its presence. I thought it would be a rich evergreen during the winter.... NOT!

  14. bare-faced gardener- come back and visit often.
    Alice Joyce- The passion vine is evergreen in our area. The pruning time is getting close.... truck time next week!

  15. I say go for it, Janet. While the birds love it now, before long it will be back again--thicker than ever. And, without that 'Passionate' Vine overtaking everything! I do love it's blue flower,, it's beautiful. I've never seen one.
    I love the idea of keeping the swingset as a trellis for the rose bush (well, the 'shrub rose')and the clematis. It's perfect. We have one too...and we were thinking about removing it soon...(son is 12 and rarely uses it). BUT I may be able to plant some things down there like you have, and perhaps just leave it there. What a good idea.
    Good luck w/all the yardwork!! I hope you feel good about your accomplishments...pruning is necessary on occasion, I do believe. I do wish I had a rose bush (Shrub) like that! Amazing that it just seemed to pop up from nowhere:)

  16. Jan- Thanks for the encouragement. Thinking I will prune the passion severely sure some will come back. May transplant it to a section of the yard where it can roam. I love having the swingset for a trellis. It sort of frames the birdbath area and leads you into the wooded area behind it. I have a Carolina Jasmine that I will share photos with may get moved to the left side of the swingset... the other end from the rose.

  17. Hi, Janet--I love combining clematis and roses, and the swingset makes a great support. I wouldn't worry too much about the birdies--in my experience, both the SAC and the shrub rose will come back quickly from the trimming--they won't be without shelter long. I hope the snowdays go away before your truckdays begin!

  18. Lord help me! I came back here to read your reply to me and it's not there. What in this world did I do with my comment?

    Very pretty rose!

    Oh, well, I understand about the Passion flower and your distaste of it. I do love the SAC! Oh man the scent. My neighbor has one that rocks the neighborhood. She whacks hers down every year and it grows huge again. She's not a gardener and I'm puzzled as to how it lives?

    I planted a Lace Vine once and once is too many.

  19. omg Janet, now I'm wondering if I did the right thing ordering the passion vines or not?? Scary. I will containerize them for sure....


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