New to Passiflora - is this a correct host plant?

onemsmomJune 12, 2011

Hi! I'm new here. I'm trying to plant host plants to attract Gulf Fritilaries - and/or other butterflies. The tag on my new Passiflora says Passiflora Pfordtii. I Googled that and found many different descriptions, colors and many different pictures! Some said it would fruit, some said it wouldn't! Yikes! What do I have here? The pic on the tag shows alternating pinky/purpley leaves with white leaves and purple spikes and a green center. The plants DO have what appear to be fruits on it (round/green - size of a large walnut). There are currently no flowers. Do I have a good host plant here? I read in one place Gulf Fritilaries only liked 3 species, none of which were this one, and yet ANOTHER site said they loved these. Please help me get some good info.

Thanks so much!!


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Howdy Jennifer,

The plant you might have, (if labelled somewhat correctly, though a poor old name), is Passiflora x belotii. It is a hybrid of P. alata and P. caerulea. Thankfully, we have never had a butterfly problem on our plant.

Your information of Gulf Frits only liking 3 species is incorrect, as if they find anything they think is half-way decent they will use. Our P. 'Incense' gets hit pretty badly, but P. 'Witchcraft' gets severely infested with Frits.

I would be fine with finding a place to send these damn plant destroyers, but for now they will meet death if they land on a plant in my yard... sorry Karyn... plants first in our yard.

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 12:03AM
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Hi Jennifer,

The gulf frits eat most passies!!! The most common native host is P. incarnata (maypop). This plant is able to outgrow them for most of the season, but by late summer the cats usually get the upper hand, and completely defoliate many plants. They are nice butterflies to have around the garden, but not if they are eating a plant that you are waiting to see flower!!! Young plants are especially vulnerable. Like most insects, they lay many more eggs than their host plant can typically support. The eggs start out yellow and then turn orange and black before hatching. They seem to like laying them on the coiled up tendrils, but will also lay on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. In your area you may also have Julia and Zebra Longwings that will lay eggs on most passies. Don't worry, they will eventually find your plant. I should have some incarnata seed at the end of the summer if you wanna get ready for next year. Let me know if you get any Zebras--I'd love to get a few eggs.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:29AM
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I'm one of the few that would like more fritillary cats. I don't get GF's, I get variegated frits. They seem to like P. incarnata best here but will likely eat any passie. The true red varieties are toxic. Eggs will get laid on a red but once the cats hatch and begin eating it kills them. Lady Margaret is the only red I know of that's safe. I've heard that yellows can be toxic as well but have no idea if that's true. I only have a couple yellows and have never found cats on them. I would definitely grow some more passies because once you do get GF's they can defoliate a single plant in no time.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 6:49AM
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Thanks for the info!

If I let the plants (I bought 2) take over our fences, would there be plenty to appease the caterpillars, yet still have some left over to flower?

Also - do you think this fruit will be edible?

Thank you!


    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 12:53PM
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No fruit on that hybrid. Well... no edible fruit.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:26PM
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It depends if they get big enough before the GF's find them and lay eggs and how many cats actually end up feeding. I'd plant a patch of incarnata in a different section of your yard and transfer the cats to them. There also a native Corkystem (P. pallida) that grows wild all over S. FL that the GF's like. What part of FL are you in? I find it all over the place around W. Palm and Boca. It doesn't have a conspicuous bloom but spreads easily and grows fast. You might be able to find some and just dig it up and plant it in your yard.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 6:10AM
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