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Questions about vines choking young trees or other plants...

 
Posts: 7
Location: South Texas
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I’ve spent a lot of time searching for answers without much success. Can someone please help me out? I’d like to know which of the vining plants I’ll list below can sprawl along the ground or climb other plants without harming them vs which ones can potentially strangle other plants and should be trellised (or I may consider not growing at all). Also, if any of them could share a long fence with some newly planted blackberries that will be tied to the fence, please let me know. I’m thinking of growing sweet peas there this first season just to pretty up the fence.

I’m going to list the vines with numbers beside them to make them easier to reference if someone has info to share for only one or two. Thanks in advance!

1) Malabar Spinach- I currently have both colors and they sprawl and climb (the red especially). Sometimes I pull them off my small trees because it looks like they could strangle them. Is this concern unnecessary?

2) Chayote- I haven’t started growing this yet because I want to place it correctly the first time. My guess is that this one is extremely vigorous and may need a sturdy fence or trellis?

3) Passionfruit (purple)

4) Fava bean

5) Jicama

6) Scarlet Runner Bean

7) Bonita/ Sweet Potato- will these climb or just sprawl along the ground?

8) Trumpet vine- I’m not actually trying to grow this one, but it’s all over my property. Should I worry about it wrecking any of my food crops, or should it play nicely?

In case anyone is wondering, I’m in Zone 9b and I’m new to Texas and to Permaculture. I think I’m doing okay trying to plan out most of my layers, but I’m having a hard time with this one. It seems like a lot of the vines I’d like to grow (that should do well in my area) need sturdy trellising and I’m not really keen on putting up fencing everywhere for stuff to climb on...
 
pollinator
Posts: 1054
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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I don't know about your place but up here almost any native vine will eventually take out the tree if only by weight. I would think chayote would be low risk as they die back every year. The ones that stay with woody vines on the tree are the bad ones. Beans squash and things that die back should be no big deal.

I have runner beans on my walnuts solely because the books say it won't work!
 
pollinator
Posts: 631
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4 Fava beans are not vines. so that one won't do any harm :p

6 Runner beans are tightly twining, here they are annual due to the cold but if you don't ever get any weather cold enough to knock the tops back (frost) then they may be an issue. They can also only climb pretty thin things as they wrap themselves round the support rather than using tendrils.
 
gardener
Posts: 1558
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I grow passion fruit on a pergola off the back of my house.  Once it gets going, a passion fruit vine really grows aggressively.  The tendrils are surprisingly strong and once they grab onto things, they don't easily come off.  I would imagine that if you grow it on the ground, within one season you'd have a giant tangled mess that would envelop everything around it --- trees, other plants, bushes.  It would be very difficult to pull out the passion fruit vines without damaging the smaller plants.  

Further, you don't pick passion fruit as much as you pick them up once they ripen and fall to the ground.  Thus, if you have it tangled in and among other ground-dwelling plants, you're going to have to go on an easter egg hunt every day.

It's better to grow it on some sort of wire or rope that you extend out over an unused space like a patio or along the side of a house.  My passion fruit vine is about 20 feet long (the main arterial -- but there are dozens of smaller vines that branch off of it) and would be longer if I didn't regularly prune it to keep it from going farther.  I think the ideal passion fruit trellis would simply be a wire that is about 8 or 10 feet off the ground and about 30 or 40 feet long.  Train the vine to reach up and then travel along the length of the wire.  That way you could keep the vines suspended so that when the fruit falls, you'll easily find it.  It's nice if it runs over a patio or sidewalk -- it makes it easy to find the ripe fruit every day.
 
Nikki Corey
Posts: 7
Location: South Texas
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All good points. Thank you very much! I will make sure to put the passion and scarlet runner in a different area and worry less about the ones that die back each year.
(On the fava- I’ve not grown them before and thought they were more of a pole bean...) 😁
 
gardener
Posts: 1071
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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This is a neat video I saw recently of Sepp Holzer growing grape vines on fruit trees and other trees. I'm guessing the grape vines were planted at the same time as the trees. It's hard to tell if the grape vine is taking over the trees or not.

I would think the grape vines could be pruned the first few years, so as to not out compete the tree and give it time to get established. The grape vine cuttings could also be used to produce more grape vines.

Most of this video is about Sepp building new ponds, but at about the 7:00 mark, he shows the trees and grape vines.



 
gardener
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Location: South of Capricorn
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In my garden (also 9b):

1) Malabar Spinach
Crazy climber, gets heavy but won't choke anything. If you let it flower, it will self seed and may get out of control.

2) Chayote
Quite heavy, may quickly get out of control. Think vigorous cucumber or loofa in terms of growth habit. Frost will kill it immediately.
If you're growing it for greens/shoots, you can prune it and it will stay under control.

3) Passionfruit (purple)
+1 with everything Marco said. VERY heavy. Tendrils will choke things.

6) Scarlet Runner Bean
vines got strong and strangly. But if you're in 9b you might be able to grow SRBs in the winter when chayote and sweet potato die back?

7) Bonita/ Sweet Potato-
Mine always just sprawl and don't seem to be interested in climbing.

8) Trumpet vine-
In my area these guys are crazy invasive and we rip them out.

I have a tiny space and don't like to trellis either, since I hate to shade out the little space I have. I do some teepees, and I use walls as anchors in some places. I also allow some things to climb up ropes to my back deck (scarlet runners in the winter, always).


 
Nikki Corey
Posts: 7
Location: South Texas
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Tereza, thank you so much! I haven’t grown chayote before (or most of the stuff that grows in this zone, if I’m being honest; I’m used to zone 4 😬) so it’s good to know that any frost will kill it. It grows back the next year though, doesn’t it? Same with sweet potato/Bonita? Wait to plant those until it’s warm and expect them to die back around December?
Does your SRB or Passion vine die back too, or do they keep foliage through the “winter”?
My local citrus guy talked me into taking some passion vine home this week but said I need to wait to plant them until March. I have a sunroom they could possibly stay in, but I’d rather just plant them out now and mulch them really well. Do you think there is a chance they would survive? I could cover them for any nights below 33 degrees (we don’t have many)...

Also, I’m a little worried about the trellising of said passion vine, now that it’s been mentioned more than once that they are vigorous and heavy. How can I build something sturdy enough for them that’s relatively inexpensive and looks decent?

Thanks again, everyone, for your help and advice; you guys are awesome!
 
Tereza Okava
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Location: South of Capricorn
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Chayote may come back from the original fruit, or it may not. I've seen both, I think it depends on how well it established itself.

(I am 9B-- humid, elevation, close to the tropic. We get only a few nights below frost temp, maybe 2 or 3 frosts per year, in the winter the daytime warms up so I may have a slightly more amenable climate).

My passionfruit will lose most of its foliage in the winter but the vines survive (both are on concrete walls that absorb heat. I have neighbors who have them in the open and they seem to do okay). I think up where you are I would put it in the sunroom for the winter and put it out in the spring. It might not establish itself now during the fall. You want it to have the best start it can get.

My SRB will go through the winter and either I will rip it out because I can't take it anymore, or more likely the bean beetles will make the plant so weak I need to put it out of its misery. I have had them go through a full year. They are okay with cold, but don't seem to hate the heat as much as I expected (this week we had 95F+ and they were flowering).

I can't tell you about the sweet potato because I always harvest them.
 
Marco Banks
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Yes, passion vines drop their leaves.  I'm in zone 9b/10, so the vine only goes leafless for about 2 months or so before new growth emerges.  I use that short window to get in there and clean out about a two thirds of the growth.  A sharp pair of hand loppers or even a pair of heavy scissors make quick work of it.  I find it enjoyable to snip, snip, snip away and clean it up.

And yes, once there is fruit on it the vines get quite heavy, but if you regularly snip it back, you could take a lot of that weight out of the vine.  Once my vines set fruit, I go through and aggressively cut back everything that isn't bearing.  It looks kind of funny because I cut off everything below the last fruit—a gonad vine with all these round ornaments hanging off the bottom.

Of all my fruit-producing plants, I would say that growing passion fruit has been the most satisfying.  Whereas with trees, there is always a question of chill hours and how much to prune and thin.  But with mninimal effort, passion fruit get big and are so lovely.  There's not question about when to pick, as they drop off when they're ready to eat.  People go crazy for them, so a paper bag with a dozen of them in it is a luxurious gift—"Oh thank you thank you thank you!"  The vines compost easily.  And by training them to grow up over my pergola, they absorb energy that otherwise would be wasted, while giving me cooling shade (the permie principle of multiple benefits from a single plant).  Without question, passion fruit have been my biggest success story in the past 3 years.
 
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I've got vines, some of them 4" diameter climbing to forest canopy, I try and cut back everything I can before leaves sprout in spring, they have choked out several large hickory, cedar and other trees I've yet to identify
 
Tereza Okava
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Marco Banks wrote:Once my vines set fruit, I go through and aggressively cut back everything that isn't bearing.


Ooh, this is a good idea and smarter than my current approach (try to prune it while it's naked. It's not working for me.).
And any fears I had about doing while the plant is in active growth.....  my one vine got shredded in a hailstorm about 2 months ago. Today it is exuberant (too early for blossoms, but looking fabulous)
 
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