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The Passiflora or passion vine has been a plant on my wish list for some time now. I finally had an opportunity to buy one this summer. This is a really cool plant. It has an amazing bloom that looks like something from outer space or deep down in the ocean.
But more importantly it is a host plant for the Fritillary Butterfly.
The plant itself has shallow roots so lots of organic matter and good drainage are important. I like to use Nature's containers whenever I can so I choose this old tree for my plant.
I took out some of the interior so that I could add some soil while leaving the decaying trunk to provide nutrients for the plant.
This is the result. This is a fast growing vine and there are lots of small protruding wood piece for the vine to attach as it grows up what is left of the tree trunk.
Once you put host plants in your garden it doesn't take long before the butterflies find them. I have been checking my plant each time I water to see if just maybe there would be some eggs. To my surprise, there were some.
It didn't take long before they hatched and 5 little caterpillars started to munch away at the leaves.
The first week they stayed on the underside of the leaves.
But they have gotten bigger now and a little more adventurous and have moved to the top side.
The Gulf Fritillary caterpillar is orange which warns predators that it tastes bad (its flesh is toxic). Its long shiny black spines are also a warning sign to stay away.
That is not a reflection you see. There are two caterpillars munching on the same leaf. One from the top and one from the bottom.
These beautiful creatures are growing fast and it won't be long now before they are ready to form their chrysalis and transform into these gorgeous butterflies that frequent my garden.
These butterflies are very human tolerant and establish themselves well in gardens, parks and botanical settings. They are a dazzling butterfly with beautiful markings and color on both the topside and underside.If you want to see more of this sensational butterfly be sure to include a passion vine (or two!) in your garden.