Category: Horticulture Info

Need to know when to plant, spray, harvest, display or view? You are in the right place! If you need me to address a situation within your landscape, give me a shout! Otherwise, check out these posts for general information on Horticultural needs of a 5A landscape.

Trees and Shrubs For Midwestern Clay Soils

Most of the Midwestern area is comprised of clay soils. Never fear! This is a much better situation to have than sandy soils. Clay soils maintain more minerals and moisture than other soils.

Sometimes clay soils can be bad, such as in conditions where there are more problems than just the soil. If while digging in the soil, it looks blueish-black and smells kinda off, this is because of poor drainage and the smell is from rotting organisms. The area should be assessed for drainage problems before anything else is done.

If the clay is a redish-orange, this is perfect as the soil is holding all the minerals plants crave.

With regards to planting woody plants, be sure to plant these correctly and never lower than the top of the roots of the rootball. If you’re at all concerned about the clay content of your soil, plant you woody plant a bit higher. Trust me, they will love you for it!!

  • For perennials for clay soils ~ CLICK HERE

Trees for Clay Soils

Scientific Name Common Name Grow Zone
Abies balsamea Balsam fir 3
Abies concolor White fir 4
Acer freemanii Freeman maple 4
Acer ginnala Amur or ginnala maple 3
Acer platanoides Norway maple 4
Acer rubrum Red maple 3
 Acer saccharinum Silver maple 3
Alnus glutinosa European alder 4
Betula nigra River birch 4
Carpinus caroliniana Blue beech 4
Carya cordiformis Bitternut hickory 4
Carya ovata Shagbark hickory 4
Celtis occidentalis Common hackberry 2
Crataegus species Hawthorn 3-4
Fraxinus nigra Black ash 3
Fraxinus pennsylvanica Green ash 3
Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo 4
Gleditsia triacanthos Common honeylocust 4
Gymnocladus dioicus Kentucky coffeetree 4
Juglans cinerea Butternut 4
Juglans nigra Black walnut 4
Larix decidua European larch 4
Larix laricina Tamarack 2
Malus species Apple, crabapple 3
Phellodendron amurense Amur corktree 4
Picea abies Norway spruce 4
Picea glauca var. densata Black Hills spruce 4
Pinus nigra Austrian pine 4
Pinus strobus White pine 3
Pinus sylvestris Scots pine 3
Pinus ponderosa Ponderosa pine 4
Populus species Aspen, cottonwood 2
Pyrus species Pear 4-5
Quercus bicolor Swamp white oak 4
Quercus macrocarpa Bur oak 3
Salix species Willow 2
Syringa reticulata Japanese tree lilac 4
Tilia species Linden, basswood 3
Ulmus species Elm 4

Shrubs for Clay Soils

Scientific Name Common Name Grow Zone
Amelanchier species Serviceberry 4
Aronia melanocarpa Chokeberry 3
Caragana arborescens Siberian peashrub 3
Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush 4
Cornus alba Tatarian dogwood 3
Cornus alternifolia Pagoda dogwood 4
Cornus racemosa Grey dogwood 3
Cornus sericea Red osier dogwood 3
Diervilla lonicera Dwarf bush-honeysuckle 3
Elaeagnus commutata Silverberry 2
Euonymus alatus Burning bush 3
Forsythia x ‘Meadowlark’ ‘Meadowlark’ forsythia 3
Forsythia x ‘Northern Sun’ ‘Northern Sun’ forsythia 3
Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel 4
Ilex verticillata Winterberry 4
Juniperus species (most) Juniper 3
Physocarpus opulifolius Common ninebark 2
Potentilla Fruticosa Potentilla 2
Rhus species Sumac 2
Ribes alpinum Alpine currant 2
Ribes odoratum Clove currant 2
Rosa rugosa Rugosa rose 2
Salix species Willow 2
Sambucus canadensis American elderberry 3
Spiraea species Spirea 3-4
Symphoricarpos albus White snowberry 3
Syringa species Lilac 2
Thuja occidentalis Arborvitae, white cedar 3
Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood viburnum 3
Viburnum lentago Nannyberry viburnum 2
Viburnum opulus European cranberry bush 3
Viburnum sargentii Sargent viburnum 4
Viburnum trilobum Highbush cranberry bush 2

© The Naturarian

Perennials for Midwestern Clay Soils

Most of the Midwestern area is comprised of clay soils. Never fear! This is a much better situation to have than sandy soils. Clay soils maintain more minerals and moisture than other soils.

Sometimes clay soils can be bad, such as in conditions where there are more problems than just the soil. If while digging in the soil, it looks blueish-black and smells kinda off, this is because of poor drainage and the smell is from rotting organisms. The area should be assessed for drainage problems before anything else is done.

If the clay is a redish-orange, this is perfect as the soil is holding all the minerals plants crave.

The soil should be mixed with a fair amount of compost to help perennials get a good start. If the soil is very compacted, some sand can be mixed it also. Be sure to surround the perennial bed with leaf compost to aid in nutrients getting to the roots and all the other benefits mulch does for plants.

  • For Trees and Shrubs for clay soils ~ CLICK HERE
Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Color Light
Achillea tomentosa woolly yarrow Jun-Jul yellow sun
Achillea filipendulina fernleaf yarrow Jun-Jul yellow sun
Arisaema spp. Jack-in-the-pulpit May-July green/purple shade
Aruncus dioicus goatsbeard Jun-Jul white ps/sh
Asclepias tuberosum butterflyweed Jun-Aug orange et al sun
Astilbe arendsii & var. false spirea, astilbe Jun-Aug white-pink-red ps/sh
Bergenia cordifolia heartleaf bergenia Apr-May pink ps/sh
Brunnera macrophylla Siberian bugloss Apr-May blue ps/sh
Echinacea purpurea purple coneflower Jul-Oct pink sun
Helenium autumnale
‘Moerheim beauty’
Sneezewort Jul-Sept bronze red sun/ps
Heliopsis scabra Heliopsis Jul-Aug yellow sun
Hemerocallis spp. daylily summer many sun/ps
Heuchera hyb. coral bells Jun-Aug white-pink-red sun/ps
Hibiscus spp. rose mallow Jul-Sept white-pink-red sun/ps
Hosta spp. plantain lily Jul-Aug lavender ps-sh
Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’ houttuynia June white sun/ps
Iris sibirica, pseudo-
acorus, versicolor, etc.
Siberian and blue and yellowflag iris variable blue, violet, yellow et al. sun/ps
Liatris spicata gayfeather, blazing star Jul-Aug pinkish sun/ps
Liriope muscari lily turf Aug-Oct lavender-mauve-white ps/sun
Lysimachia spp. Yellow loosestrife, gooseneck loosestrife Jul-Sept yellow-white sun/ps
Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian sage Summer Lavender sun
Primula spp. primroses Mar-Jun many ps/sh
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ Goldsturm rudbeckia July-Sept yellow sun/ps
Salvia spp. salvia, sage Jul-Oct blue-violet sun/ps
Sedum spectabile var. stonecrop, sedum Aug-Oct pink-red sun
Tradescantia virginiana spiderwort Jun-Sept blue-violet-white sun/ps
Yucca filamentosa Adams’s needle summer white sun

© The Naturarian

Arrowhead Plant – Syngonium podophyllum Nephthytis

imageI had these wicker plants hangers for years before that, not knowing what to put in them… I finally found these two Arrowhead plants from work about five years ago and thought they were a great fit! They love their south facing window, which gives them very little light in the summer and a full days worth during the winter. They really thrive and grow during the winter. They tend to take a pause from growing in the heat of the summer.
image

These are relatives of the Philodendron, another easy plant to grow. They like moist soils, but don’t over-soak them. They like a light 10-10-10 fertilizer every 3 months.

Plants inside can get spider mites. These don’t get moved outside during the summer, so they’ve been insect free.

Pruning is a bit tricky. You don’t want to cut all the way down to the split or you will nip the tip of the new leaf off. As you look at the stem that branches off, you will notice there is a bulge in the stem, this is where the next leaf is curled up in it’s stem.

image

A still rolled up leaf.

image

The plant will start to shoot ‘runners’ (l o n g branches) after a few years. If you like them, keep them. I’ve got one that is about 15 feet long. I just want to see how long it will actually get! To keep the plant bushy, these should be pruned off. If you do this during the summer months, place the piece, now known as a ‘cutting’, into water and it should soon root, then plant it in a light mix.

image

This is the start of a runner. See the thick ends of the leaf stem at the main branch? Don’t cut below this.

image

After it grows out, the brown dried-up stem can be cut, do not peel it!

© The Naturarian

Signs of Spring in the Midwest: Yellow Willows (Salix)

One of the first signs of spring (to me) is when the willows start to turn bright yellow. You can’t miss them in the dreary, white, Midwestern landscape.

image

Some Facts About the Willow (Salix):

  • When compared to other trees, life span of a weeping willow is shorter because of its fast growing nature, some don’t thrive past 30 years.
  • They need to be grown in full sun.
  • Their height and width can be 30 to 55 feet. Willows can grow 10 inches in a good growing year.
  • The fruit of the tree is a small brown capsule. It is around half-inch long.
  • The tree is very brittle because it grows quite rapidly.
  • The bark turns reddish/brown during the winter and yellow/green in the spring.
  • Pests like aphids and tent caterpillars can destroy the tree quite quickly. You should frequently check for conditions like powdery mildew, crown gall, and canker.
  • You may cut some branches in spring, remove the bottom leaves and put them in a jar of water. Keep the jar out in the sun. Roots will grow within 15 to 20 days. However, if you want a specific variety, it is better to buy it.
  • Historically, beautiful baskets are woven using willow stems.

Country folk have known the healing properties of willow for a long time. They made an infusion from the bark as a remedy for colds, fevers, and to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatism. Young willow twigs were also chewed to relieve pain. In the early nineteenth century, modern science isolated the active ingredient responsible, salicylic acid, which was also found in the meadowsweet plant Filipendula ulmaria. From this the world’s first synthetic drug, acetylasylic acid, was developed and marketed as Aspirin, named after the old botanical name for meadowsweet, Spirea ulmaria. Botanists love to change the names of plants!

Most willow species grow and prosper close to water or in damp places, and this premise is reflected in the legends associated with these trees. The moon too recurs as a theme, the movement of water being intimately connected with and affected by the moon. For example, Hecate the powerful Greek goddess of the moon and of willow, also taught sorcery and witchcraft, and was ‘a mighty and formidable divinity of the Underworld’. Helice was also associated with water, and her priestesses utilized willow in their water magic and witchcraft. The willow muse, called Heliconian after Helice, was sacred to poets, and the Greek poet Orpheus brought willow branches on his adventures in the Underworld. Apollo also gave Orpheus a lyre, and it is interesting to note that the sound boxes of harps used to be carved from solid willow wood.

© The Naturarian

Succulent Plant Display Terrarium

image

I had to go to The Big Hardware Box store for some things and I MUST ALWAYYS go through the plant section. I found these three ‘lil guys.

From left to right;

  • Crassula ‘Caput Minima’
  • Sedum nussbaumerianum
  • Hawthorhia fasciata – zebra plant.

The glass succulent bowl was a gift from my brother and his girlfriend. Since no one is perfect… I killed the plants they originally gave me with the bowl… I figured I’d give myself one more chance with these three. May their God have mercy on their souls! I teased out the roots and used a very light sandy soil. These arrangements should stay on the dry side, only watering lightly when necessary. I’ve been using a spray bottle.

image

Enjoy the day & keep on planting!
© The Naturarian

African Violet’s Boast 10 Months of Blooms!!

African Violets are one of the easiest flowering plants to enjoy inside during the cold weather of the Midwest. With a good initial set-up and some minor care, African Violets will bloom ten months out of the year.

Procuring an African Violet is convenient and low cost. I always goes to the indoor plant section of the Big Box store where the price for one is around $2.50.

African Violets require a special acidic soil that must be kept moist. Because of this, a normal, growing pot is not recommended. There are two types of pots: one type has a pot-within-a-pot soaking in water and the other uses capillary action via a wick within the soil.  I created a system with a glass bowel, decorative rocks, and a terra cotta pot. (see photo)

During the summer months African Violets can be moved outdoors in a partly-sunny location. When the temperatures get below 50F it’s time to bring them inside. Place them in a South or West window for the most available sunlight. Most flowering plants also require a dark period to bloom. Make sure there are no nightlights in the vicinity.

African Violets do not like drafts either, so keep them away from doors, vents, space heaters, and fans.

When it comes to watering, there’s nothing easier than an African Violet. Both type pots have a reservoir that only needs refilling with quality, non-softened water. No guesswork involved.

To help maintain the flowering of the plant, be sure to give is a dose of liquid fertilizer according to the labels directions.

African Violets can bloom 10 months out of the year. Care is the key to keeping it in bloom.

Maintaining a good watering schedule is important. They can go a few days being empty, and it is ok to do that periodically, just not to “droop” status. If the whole plant is drooping, water from above and fully soak pot to revive, careful not to wet leaves.

Always use good water. African Violets like it a bit acidic, and our Midwestern water is alkaline. Bottled or filtered water works well, but room temperature, melted snow is slightly acidic and a better choice if available.

The rocks and outside of the pot need to be rinsed off monthly. Sometimes fungus (green) will begin to grow in the water, or the pot will develop a white film on it. The white film is mineral salts, and needs to be removed. An old toothbrush works without using any soap. It’s OK to let a bit of water to run through the pot, as it rinses the mineral salts thru the soil and out the sides of pot, just keep the leaves as dry as possible.

Prune off the dead flowers with a scissors, don’t pull. Just trim the individual dead flower, as the rest of the main stem might still be blooming. This steps-up additional flower production for the plant.

Remember, it is seriously stressful for the plant to flower (think pregnancy!) So, after a good run of blooming, the plant may chill, and just be green for awhile. Be happy with that, and anticipate blooms after a short rest. Generally, stores sell these in bloom so people would buy them. Don’t be surprised if that rest period comes sooner than expected.

Prune off any bad looking leaves at anytime with scissors.

Talk to your African Violet, it likes to listen to your problems (it also wants your CO2)…

Check the bottom leaves that rest on the edge of the pot, they may get damaged/bent with age. Promptly remove them.

Image

Image

©  The Naturarian

 

35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

rain barrel

  1. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when the ground is dry.
  2. Use sprinklers that toss big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist can drift onto non-target areas or evaporate before they hit the ground.
  3. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.
  4. Hand-water with a hose where possible. Homeowners who water with a handheld hose can use one-third less water outdoors than those who use automatic sprinklers.
  5. Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps reduce soil compaction from raindrops and helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
  6. Purchase a rain barrel and install below your gutter downspout and you’ll capture a little more than half a gallon of water for every square foot of roof during a one-inch rainfall—that means a 90-square-foot roof would completely fill a 55-gallon barrel! You can use that bounty to water your ornamental garden. Don’t use on your veggies, too many contaminants!!
  7. Plant smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and irrigation system. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. It will save time, money and water.
  8. Position sprinklers so they’re not watering driveways and walkways.
  9. Adjust your lawnmower to cut grass to a height of 3 inches or more. Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.
  10. Start a compost pile or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal*, which requires a lot of water to work properly. Use the compost to improve the quality and water holding capacity of your soil. *Save yourself from having the plumber out also!!
  11. Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid over-watering. 15-20 minutes is generally enough time.
  12. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  13. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  14. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.
  15. Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  16. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as cleaning or watering a plant or garden. For example, collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants; or when cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.
  17. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Micro, drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.
  18. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle that can be adjusted so water flows only as needed. When finished, turn the water off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.
  19. Use hose washers on water hoses and attachments to eliminate leaks.
  20. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.
  21. Verify that your home is leak free. Homes can have hidden water leaks that may be noticeable indoors, but outside can go undetected. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
  22. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.
  23. Go with splashes of color instead of mass plantings of annuals. Yes, they’re beautiful, but annuals (such as petunias and impatiens) typically require more water than most perennials.
  24. Rethink your lawn layout. If you live in a dry climate, you’ll need a lot of sprinkler activity to maintain a huge grassy swath. Consider replacing it with decorative gravel, which also reduces runoff.
  25. Collect shower/bath “warm-up” water in a bucket for use in watering plants
  26. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.
  27. Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
  28. Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
  29. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption. A heavy layer of thatch can be hydrophobic, so de-thatching might help.
  30. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape. Check your timing devices regularly too to be sure they operate properly.
  31. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. I recommend 1′ of water per week.
  32. Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.
  33. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
  34. Wash your car and pets on the lawn, and you’ll water your lawn at the same time.
  35. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.

reduce-your-use-e1518218433850.jpg

© The Naturarian

Monarch Butterflies

I love monarch butterflies! Butterflies in general are so whimsical and make me feel 12 again. I was lurking through my media files and happened upon this folder labeled ‘fall walk’. Well, that was a pretty uneventful title for a nice set of pretty flutter-bys!! I’m not even sure where these were taken, but who cares 😉 Just enjoy them.

image

image

image

imageThey like the late season bonanza found on Joe Pye Weed and the Queen Anne’s Lace make nice landing pads.

The origin of names has always fascinated me. So, who was Joe Pye and why does he have a weed named after him?? I found quite a large amount of research on the topic. For a Cliff’s Notes version, read below:

Joseph Pye of Stockbridge could have had an ancestor from Salem who treated colonists for typhus thereby making his “fame and fortune,” or his name might have been a corruption from a hypothetical Indian word for typhus or some similar disease.  But I ask: Why not embrace the hard evidence that Joseph Pye was a Mohegan sachem who lived in western Massachusetts precisely where Eaton tells us that “Joe Pye’s Weed” was in “common use” as a treatment for typhus; that he lived his notable life there just a few decades before Eaton remarks on Joe Pye’s Weed; that the president of the college where Eaton lectured believed that he successfully treated his fever with a tea made from Joe Pye’s Weed; that Joseph Pye was educated by Samson Occam, himself an herbalist?  All this is substantiated and frankly I believe makes a better story than any borne of speculation.

image

image

Of course, monarchs love milkweed. If everyone could just plant a few of these in their yard, we would truly be able to help their populations.

image

© The Naturarian

How Plants Get Their Names

Botanical nomenclature is the formal way of saying, ‘The scientific naming of plants’. Plant taxonomy is first used to group and classify all plants; then botanical nomenclature provides names for the results of this sorting process.

They say Latin is a dead, unspoken language, but I speak it every day at my job in horticulture. Plants have both a common name and a formal, scientific name. When you talk to your Southern cousin and she tells you she has bluebells in her yard, they could be a completely different plant than what we Midwesterners call a bluebell. Poor Arisaema triphyllum has many names: Jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, wild turnip, brown dragon, Indian turnip, death flower or American wake robin.

By using Latin nomenclature, I ensure that I order exactly which variety I want, especially if I’m matching existing plants. Scientists refer to this method as the binomial naming system, as all biological things have an order. Many times the Latin name reveals characteristics of the plant such as color, size, origin, and growth habit among other things.

The ‘white bleeding heart, lyre flower or lady-in-a-bath’ will be my example.

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ Synonym Lamprocapnos (shakes fist at botanists)

Dicentra is the first part of the name called the genus. This section groups plants that are closely related. The translation is; Di = two + centra = spurs, which describes the flower.

The next part of the name is called the specific epithet, which further describes the plant; spect = looking + abilis = able.

The last part of this name [in this case] is the variety. This describes qualities that differ from the species, and will grow true from seed. ‘alba’ =  white.

Names of cultivars are also after the specific epithat and in quotes. These do not grow true from seed and are capitalized as usually, they relate to the creator or something catchy for marketing such as, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ and Hosta ‘Big Daddy’.

Hybrids would be the last type of scientific name that combines the names of the two plants involved. Abelia x grandiflora or the glossy abelia, was developed by crossing Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora. These plants do not grow true from seed. Examples are: Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Forester‘ and Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘ Arazona Sun’.

Here’s some basic Latin to help ease you into it!

Alba = white

Aurea = golden foliage

Contorta = twisted

Elata = tall

Grandiflora = large flowers

Grandifolia = large leaves

Japonica = from Japan

Lutea = yellow

Nana = dwarf

Occidentalis = from the West

Orientalis = from the East

Pendula = weeping

Purpurea = purple

Repens = creeping

Sempervirens = evergreen

Syricta = upright

Tomentosa = downy

© The Naturarian

Vines Growing on Trees – Good or Bad?

20170430_130920(0)
Trumpet Vine

20170430_130901

 

English ivy and other evergreen vines can cause problems in trees, along with fast growing deciduous (lose their leaves in winter) vines like Kudzu. However, not all vines do harm to trees.

Problem Vines:

  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata )
  • Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
  • Chinese/Japanese wisteria (Wisteria spp.)
  • Kudzu (Pueraria spp.)
  • Euonymus  (spp.)

wpid-20140809_084824.jpg

These are just a few of the bad vines to allow to grow on trees. Evergreen and fast growing vines should be avoided or removed if possible. All vines can cause structural problems – The added weight can break branches along with the vine catching more wind, snow or ice than the tree is used to receiving, possibly causing it to topple. Some vines that start as a groundcover (such as ivy), form a dense mat covering the tree’s buttress or root flare. The vine often causes leaves and debris to pile up against the root collar and traps moisture against the trunk and root flare. This can cause many fungal and bacterial type diseases, as well as potential structural decay at the base of the tree. Deciduous vines aren’t necessarily any better than their evergreen counterparts. They, too have the capability of shading out the tree’s leaves, adding weight and even girdling (strangling) the tree’s limbs and trunk. Some common vines in this category; Chinese/Japanese wisteria, trumpet vine and pipevine. Trumpet vine and pipevine are native to the Midwest and usually confine their growth to trees at the edge of woods or those that are standing alone. Therefore, they don’t represent a threat to the forest overall, but they can take their toll on individual trees. It comes to personal preference if you want to go down this road.

Leave Them Be Vines:

Vines that are smaller and grow more slowly that can usually be allowed to grow on trees.

  • Clematis species
  • Virgin’s bower (native clematis – Clematis virginiana)
  • Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
  • Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quincifolia)
  • Carolina moonseed (Cocculus carolinus)
  • Maypop / Purple Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)
  • Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Although Virginia creeper and crossvine can grow quickly and get large, I’ve never seen any tree so overgrown with them as to pose a problem even though crossvine can be evergreen. The clematis vines (including the native), Carolina moonseed and maypop climb by twining, however do not strangle the tree. Crossvine, Virginia creeper and poison ivy climb by using their aerial roots. People often confuse Virginia creeper and poison ivy. Just remember this little ditty:

“Leaves of three, leave it be. Leaves of five, leave it alive (or let it thrive).”

And before anyone jumps down my throat about the poison ivy, I would like to remind everyone that the Audubon Society considers poison ivy to be one of the top food sources for song birds, with about 63 species feeding on the berries. It’s so important, that nature has essential plant foods for birds. However, I digress. … Should you decide to let a smaller, slower-growing vine grow up a living tree, be prepared to manage the vine by cutting it back to keep it confined to the trunk and not allow it to grow on the limbs which could add weight and change the tree’s center of gravity as well as shade the tree’s leaves. Make sure that fallen leaves and other plant debris don’t collect at the bottom of the vine against the host tree or diseases may follow. Should a tree that is hosting a vine show signs of stress, the vine will have to go for the health of the tree. One last thought. Dead trees that are left standing (snags) can be used for vines. Just remember that this arrangement will be temporary, as the snag will eventually decay to the point of falling. Just make sure it won’t hit anything when it comes down.

© The Naturarian