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using native trees as living trellises

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I just planted some Maypop passion fruit vines at the base of some small native oaks that are about 8 ft tall. Actually, one of them was about 10 ft tall, so I pruned off the top 2 feet. My plan is to keep these trees pruned at about 8 ft tall, forcing the growth of more lateral branches for the passion fruit vines to cling to. I don't want the trees growing so tall that I have to climb them (much) to get to the fruit. And besides, we have planted fruit trees near by that I don't want the oaks to shade out anyway.

I guess I'm just posting this to get feedback on this plan. Has anyone been doing this? Any tips? I already have a plan for the squirrels which they're not going to like too much - live traps and Brunswick stew.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
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sounds like a solid plan to me. should work well for herbaceous vines, like maypop. a little bit more risky for aggressive woody vines like some of the Actinidias. I would expect grapes to like the arrangement.
 
David Miller
Posts: 280
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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The plan is great, my grapes are constantly climbing trees. I cut them back because then I can't reach the grapes but if you cut the trees back instead, it seems you've got a winner.
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
Posts: 356
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Sounds like a great plan, even better if you could use nitrogen fixing trees so that every time you prune them you release some nitrogen into the surrounding soil.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Thanks, folks, for the feedback. I am realizing that by keeping the oaks small, I have instantly transformed them into fruit trees. Good call Isaac on the use of nitrogen fixing trees. I am now resolved to plant Maypops on my pigeon peas next spring, assuming they will be big enough by then. Since pigeon peas live only 3-5 years, I'll need to start some new ones at the base of the big one about 1 year in advance so the Maypops won't have too far to go to find a new host.
 
charlie brown
Posts: 3
Location: brittany, FRANCE
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Living trellises can be made with salix as done as webpage -video at the bottom of the page-
Can be used for chicken paddocks and otherwise
Sorry for french language in this page (and my english too )
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Interesting idea Nick. My first thought was if the oaks are allelopathic or not. If not then pin oaks grow well here in our sandy soil and would probably make a great trellis. I too am constantly trying to figure out good trellis systems.

Here in S.C. it seems that EVERYTHING rots or rusts eventually so I am just putting money and work into something temporary. The oak, on the other hand would do neither.

Anyone know if oaks are allelopathic?
 
Adam Old
Posts: 18
Location: Miami, FL - Zone 10b
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I moved into a property with a Ficus benjamina in the back yard. I planned to cut it down and replace with a mango, but before I was able to do that, I planted a passionfruit vine at the base which grew rapidly to the top and began raining delicious passionfruits down on our yard. It is pretty awesome--in fact, there are so many that it is impossible to collect them all, and a lot of them go to rot and fruitfly central. guess I need a pig. The only real problem is that there isn't a lot you can do with them other than eat them straight or strain the seeds out for time-consuming, yet delicious juice. an arborist said that I might expect the vine to actually kill the tree by blocking out so much sun, but that seems far fetched.
 
Peta Schroder
Posts: 62
Location: Australia
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I read that the best tree for planting a passionfruit under is acacia. It lives about the same timeframe as passionfruit (seven years), is small, is native where I live, and it is a nitrogen fixer.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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The oak trees here grow in the shade of long leaf pines. However, the ones that we are using for the passion fruit are in full sun. I hope that means that the passion fruit will not shade the oaks too much. We'll see how it goes.
 
Zoe Wroten
Posts: 19
Location: New Hampshire, zone 5
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I'm wondering if there are any trees that *would* work well for hardy kiwi. I know Martin Crawford grows them with linden trees and pollards/prunes them both at the same time. He mentions in the same section of his book that some folks have had luck growing woody vines on "sacrificial" trees. I've got an abundance of white pine seedlings; would girdling those then planting hardy kiwi work, or would the kiwi be too strong?
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 309
Location: Upstate SC
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They aren't native, but I use some of the self-seeded mimosa trees that pop up in my vegetable garden as bean trellises. Some of those that aren't doing trellis duty provide shade for heat sensitive veggies and the rest get either pruned back or cut back to the ground several times during the summer. At the end of the season I cut them all back to the ground and sheet compost their trunks in the paths. This way they provide lots of nitrogen fixed organic matter for the garden and turn what many would consider a nuisance into an asset for the garden.
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
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I thought of tying ropes between several trees and plant raspberries there. But the shade is pretty heavy and I don't know weather I get a lot of raspberries there. and I would have to watch out that the rope does not grow into the bark and hurt the tree. I might do this until the bamboo I planted there is big enough to work as a windbreak but raspberries lose their leaves at some stage in winter.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Mike, I like what you're doing. It reminded me that I am planning to grow snow peas on my dormant grape vines this winter. Come to think of it, the oaks and the maypops will be dorment then, too-so I'll plant a few snow pea seeds there too. Might even get some beneficial nitrogen fixing out of the snow peas. So, my little oak trees are turning into passion fruit "trees" that also produce snow peas and fix nitrogen in winter. And I don't have to wait a few years to get the production level up. Slick.
 
Michael Brown
Posts: 16
Location: Massachusetts - Zone 6b
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This is a cool idea, never thought of using living trees as trellises really. Where it happens naturally I just let it go if it's not hurting the tree. But I never thought of it in this aspect. Got my mind going though! Thanks!
 
Jim Porter
Posts: 37
Location: USA, West central Florida
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Nick, If you can grow it where you are (you may be right on the edge of its viable zone?), this should work great for dragon fruit too, as they only fruit on their horizontal, hanging branches. Here is a sample pic from the Internet, where you can see it growing up the trunk, and then spreading out.



I put my first cutting in the ground this past weekend, beside the trunk of a palm tree.

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Thanks. Does the fruit have thorns like prickly pear?
 
Jim Porter
Posts: 37
Location: USA, West central Florida
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AFAIK, only the less-often-seen yellow-fruited variety has the prickly spines on the fruit.

Other positives, being a cactus, it should not have a problem with the dry season, it's easily propagated, and it's very ornamental, even striking (plant, flower, and fruit!)

I've attached a copy of the two-page handout from Matthew Snow, who spoke about dragon fruit at this past weekend's monthly meeting of the Tampa Bay Chapter of Rare Fruit Council International (http://rarefruit.org/)
Filename: Dragon Fruit.pdf
Description: Dragon Fruit (Matthew Snow)
File size: 107 Kbytes
[Download Dragon Fruit.pdf] Download Attachment
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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so far the only vines I have ever had KILL a tree was bittersweet, they are very hard on trees. Grapes seem to do ok if the tree is strong enough, woodbine hasn't bothered any of my trees that it has grown into. I've never planted maypop.
 
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