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  • Do your homework on vines

  • Vines are interesting plants for a variety of reasons. They grow fast, often require little soil in which to sink their feet, usually flower abundantly, and are useful as screens to hide unattractive items or views such as your compost pile or a neighbor's yard.
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  • Vines are interesting plants for a variety of reasons. They grow fast, often require little soil in which to sink their feet, usually flower abundantly, and are useful as screens to hide unattractive items or views such as your compost pile or a neighbor's yard.
    But before you plant a vine, it's helpful to know how they climb so you can give them proper support as they grow. Vines twine, wind or cling. Some can't climb a smooth surface like a pole, while others can do a lot of damage if allowed to climb directly on a building.
    Twining vines wrap themselves around a suitable vertical support. They may require some training to get them to climb a selected support, such as a pole, arbor or pergola. Almost all twining vines grow counterclockwise, which is important to know as you get them started in their training program. Examples of twining woody vines include wisteria and hardy kiwi, while morning glory, scarlet runner beans, black-eyed Susan vine and Dutchman's pipe are annuals.
    Winding vines grow tendrils, or modified thread-like stems or leaves that coil or wind around objects they encounter. These objects must be rather small — not as wide as a pole, wall or tree. As the tendrils wrap themselves around the object, it lets them "pull" themselves up as the vine grows. Some materials that work well for winding vines include wire, lattice, trellises, plastic mesh, bamboo poles, chain-link fencing and twine. Plants that work well on those supports include grapes, clematis, porcelain berry, sweet peas and garden peas.
    Perhaps the most interesting and mysterious are the clinging vines. They produce little tendrils with a sticky pad on the end, and as they encounter a vertical surface they attach the pad to the wall or other structure. Two common vines that use this method are Virginia creeper and Boston ivy.
    Other clinging vines have small aerial roots on their stems that grow into the tiny cracks and crevices of brick walls, tree trunks or other rough surfaces. Examples of those include trumpet vine and English ivy. Note that these clinging vines can cause damage to structures, including brick and masonry walls, if allowed to grow directly on the surface. It is this trait that makes English ivy so dangerous to trees; it can kill them.
    As for "climbing" roses, they are not really vines. They produce long canes, which are trained to supports by weaving or tying to a structure such as an arbor, fence, trellis or pergola. Training them horizontally will tend to help them produce more flowers, by the way. And some of the more thorny varieties will use their thorns as "hooks" to help them grow upward. Talk about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps!
    There are many more varieties of vines than have been mentioned here. I hope you will use this as a starting place to investigate and grow some of these intriguing plants.
    Coming up: Landscape architect and Master Gardener Bonnie Bayard will share her knowledge about designing and growing in small spaces. She will include suggested plants, as well as how to design your limited space with them.
    The class will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, in Central Point. Cost is $10. Call 541-776-7371 to register.
    Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at diggit1225@gmail.com.
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