Training a Vine

Get your vines growing in the right direction

Fine Gardening - Issue 131

Vines are an essential plant in any garden. When you’re planting a new one, you may need to do a little training to give it a leg up.

First, it’s important to know that vines come in three types:

Twining or Scrambling Vines

Vines like morning glories and scarlet runner beans fall into this category. They don’t attach themselves with tendrils, but rather, they scramble along and wind themselves through and around their support system without needing much outside help.

Vines that climb by means of tendrils

Tendrils are small gripper-type stems that twist around their support system. Cucumbers and sweet peas are two vines that climb using tendrils.

Vines that climb by aerial rootlets

Vines with aerial rootlets grip like Velcro® onto their support systems. When you see a vine climbing up a flat surface like a stone wall or a tree, it’s safe to bet you’re looking at a vine that climbs using aerial rootlets. Ivy and climbing hydrangeas fall into this category.

Training a Vine

No matter what type of vine you have, make sure you plant it at least four to six inches away from its support system so its roots have a place to expand.

To get vines going in the right vertical direction, start by attaching them loosely to the structure you want them to climb. Cut-up pantyhose make a great tie for vines because they’re stretchy enough to allow the stems to expand as they grow, and soft enough that they won’t cut into the vine.

Some vines may need attachment help the entire time they’re growing–you may need to keep tying them up as they grow higher and higher on their structure. Others require very little training, other than at planting time.

With a little practice, you can coax almost any vine to grow in the right direction.

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