Native Vines for Southern Gardens

Passion Flower, Crossvine and Coral Honeysuckle Vines

Native vines add vertical growing spaces to your landscape. Add an attractive trellis to a garden bed and you add another focal point to your yard. Vine covered trellises can also serve as screens or outdoor "room dividers".

My favorite native vines are multi-purpose vines like Passion Flower (Passiflora spp.), Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) and Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). All three have lovely flowers that attract birds, butterflies and other pollinators, including hummingbirds.

Crossvine

Crossvine attracts hummingbirds to the garden.
Crossvine attracts hummingbirds to the garden. | Source

Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata

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Crossvine's dusty red and yellow flowers bloom high in the trees of southern forests just when the Ruby-throated hummingbirds return from their winter grounds.  The flowers have a spicy scent and hummingbirds and other pollinators use them.

The evergreen vines grow well on a trellis or fence so will fit right into the landscape.

Gulf Fritillary on Passion Flower

Passion Vine is the host plant of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly.
Passion Vine is the host plant of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly. | Source

Native "Maypop", Passiflora incarnata

Native Passion Vine grows in fields and woodlands.
Native Passion Vine grows in fields and woodlands. | Source

Cultivar of Passiflora incarnata

One of the many cultivars of native Passion Vine.
One of the many cultivars of native Passion Vine. | Source

Passiflora incarnata

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Passiflora incarnata or Maypop is native to Louisiana and other southern states. This vine can be found growing in open woods and fields. Delicious yellow oval fruit follows the lovely purple and white flowers.

There are many very showy cultivars of the native Passiflora incarnata. A very small yellow flowered Passion vine (Passiflora lutea) is also native. Gulf Fritillary butterflies use all varieties of Passiflora as a host plant.

Passion flower was named because Christian priests saw symbolism in it's unusual flower. According to Wikipedia, the common name refers to the Passion of Christ because:

"The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance. The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ. The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer). The flower's radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns. The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail. The 3 stigmas represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance). The blue and white colors of many species' flowers represent Heaven and Purity."


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Passion Vine with 5-points on leaves

This passion flower is almost white and has a leaf with 5 points.
This passion flower is almost white and has a leaf with 5 points. | Source

Coral Honeysuckle

Coral honeysuckle flowers are used by hummingbirds.
Coral honeysuckle flowers are used by hummingbirds. | Source

Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens

Unlike its Asian cousin, Coral Honeysuckle is a well behaved vine that will stay in bounds.  The coral flowers are full of sweet nectar and are a favorite of hummingbirds.  The flowers are followed by a jellybean-like fruit that is eaten by many songbirds.

Coral Honeysuckle will bloom several times a year in part shade or full sun.  It prefers rich, well drained soil.  A fence or light trellis should be provided for support.

Gulf Fritillary on Passiflora lutea

Yellow Passion Flower is also used by Gulf Fritillary butterflies.
Yellow Passion Flower is also used by Gulf Fritillary butterflies. | Source

Books About Growing Native Plants

Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Woody Plants
Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Woody Plants

An excellent guide about growing and propagating woody native U.S. plants.

 

© 2011 Yvonne L. B.

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Please leave a comment. 2 comments

mannyrolando profile image

mannyrolando 5 years ago

Beautiful photographs! I have a purple passion flower vine, the flowers are simply amazing. I have never seen the almost white ones, but the purple ones are just beautiful! You take the most breathtaking photographs! Thanks for sharing!


naturegirl7 profile image

naturegirl7 5 years ago from South Louisiana Author

Thanks. Yes, passion vines are outstanding and lovely. Sometimes it's hard to let the caterpillars eat them up, but the result is a beautiful butterfly. The trick is to have many vines.

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    naturegirl7 profile image

    Yvonne L. B. (naturegirl7)131 Followers
    40 Articles

    Yvonne is a Louisiana Master Gardener and a former president of the Folsom Native Plant Society. She gives talks about sustainable gardens.



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