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Turquoise Puya

Passiflora gilbertiana

This is a close look at the beautiful Passiflora gilbertiana, discovered fairly recently in Costa Rica.  From spring through autumn, it's covered with wonderful, golden-yellow blossoms that look like little sunshine rays!  Even without blooms it's an stunning plant, with terrific, variegated leaves that have purplish undersides.  This vine is rarely seen in cultivation, and seldom offered for sale.

Passiflora gilbertiana

Its large, wing-shaped leaves grow to about 6 inches long and have attractive "lightning bolt" variegation down each lobe, similar to my Passiflora boenderi, also from Costa Rica.  If you look close you'll see rows of yellow dots that serve to mimic butterfly eggs, to keep butterflies from laying eggs there.  The inch-wide blooms appear in large numbers all over the vine.  Sometimes the blooms have no fragrance, but usually they have sort of a chemical smell that most find unpleasant.  It doesn't seem to bother hummingbirds, which often visit the blooms.  You can cross-breed it with some other Passiflora species, particularly those in the subgenus Decaloba.  After flowering, it can make small, round fruit that is purple.  I don't know if the fruit is edible (some Passiflora fruit is toxic).

Passiflora gilbertiana

I don't have information on its temperature tolerances.  Based on where it's from (1300 to 2300 meter elevation) it should be able to handle some heat, but i suspect it may want cool nights if days regularly get over 85 degrees F (29C).  It grows fine here in cool San Francisco.  I don't know its frost tolerance since it doesn't freeze here.  It enjoys partly sunny conditions.  The variegation gets the strongest in bright light, but it might need some shading from strong afternoon sun.  Like most Passifloras, it likes fertile, well-draining soil that's kept evenly moist.  It can be grown in a 3-5 gallon pot onto a trellis.  It's vigorous, but it doesn't get rampant.  In the right conditions, it's an easy vine.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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