Planting Vines

1. Soil

The first step in choosing a location for planting vines is to do a soil analysis in the area selected. Moist, fertile soil, high in organic matter, is preferred. The soil in areas not readily exposed to elements, such as ground in the shadow of buildings or eaves, and under trees, may well be infertile, and likely overly dry. While there are good reasons for desiring to plant vines next to trees, be aware of the likelihood that the vines will have to compete with existing tree roots for nutrients in the soil. In such locations, it is wise to amend the soil, adding enriched soil throughout the entire planting bed, and not just in the backfill. Such amendments to the soil will greatly assist vigorous root growth.

2. Irrigation

When choosing a location for your vines, keep in mind the necessity of irrigation, and choose a spot where there is an available water source; 125 feet from a faucet when you only have a 100 foot hose will present a serious dilemma, unless lugging watering cans on a frequent basis is not a problem.

3. Direction

When choosing a location for wall-climbing vines, keep direction in mind. Heat-seeking vines and vines requiring protection in the winter (depending on your particular climate), will do best on walls facing south or west. Choose north and east-facing walls for vines that thrive in shady areas.

4. Supports

Unless you have decided to plant your vines adjacent to a wall, next to a tree, or at the base of an existing arbor or pergola, and the placement of a new support is necessary, construct the support first, before planting your vines. Make sure the support is appropriate for the type of vine selected, and that the support is solidly constructed. (see article Choosing the Proper Support for Your Vines)

5. Steps to Getting Your Vines Off the Ground:

  1. Choosing the specific spot - Pick a spot about one foot from your support. For annual vines, a but closer is still good, but perennial vines that will develop thick trunks over time should be a bit further away. If you are using a large tree for a support, pick a spot between the larger tree roots, not next to them.

  2. Digging - When digging the planting hole, create a space roughly three times the diameter of the root ball of a potted vine or the root spread of a bare-root vine. The depth of the hole should be equal to the height of the root ball or the length of the bare roots, enabling the crown (the junction where the roots and shoots meet) to be at the surface of the soil.

  3. Fill - As stated above, the entire planting bed should be amended. Well mixed composted manure, compost, moist peat moss, or even rotted leaves are all acceptable to use. However, when your hole is dug and your vine properly placed into the hole, you need to use additional enrichment in the backfill, especially when planting in areas of poor quality soil, such as near buildings. Even in area of nutrient-rich soil, some additional amendment should be used. Generally, 20% to 30% organic enriched backfill should be used, less in rich soil areas, and a higher percentage in areas of poor quality soil. Additionally, consider adding both a high phosphorous fertilizer to help promote root growth and a slow-release fertilizer for general maintenance.

  4. Specific Planting Instructions - The plant(s) you purchase will likely have specific instructions for that vine, either on an enclosure in the package, on the package itself, or on a tag attached to the plant. Such specific instructions are almost always found with bare root plants.

  5.       When planting bare root plants, it is necessary to build a cone of soil in the middle of the hole, tamp it well so that the plant       does not settle, and to place the vine on the point of the cone, spreading the roots over. Instructions may recommend       trimming any excessively long or damaged roots. Once placed on the cone, the crown of a bare root vine should be at ground       level (or within one inch below ground level). But - specific instructions for your vine may differ. An example is species of roses       that need to be planted more deeply to protect the crown from cold weather. These roses need to have their crown up to four       inches below the soil surface for more vigorous root production.

          For vines that are in pots, it is very important to NOT pull the plant out of the pot by its stem if there is any resistance at all. If       there is resistance - due to roots having become entwined in the the pot - use heavy shears to cut away the container.       Bougainvillea is a vine particularly susceptible to damage by pulling it from a container due to its fragile and brittle roots and       its dangerously sharp thorns. After removing the plant, set the root ball in the hole, adjusting the hole depth and width as       necessary to have the crown at soil level or slightly below. Add backfill to fill the hole three-quarters full.

  6. Settle, Mulch, and Water - To settle the soil, the hole should then be filled with water and then allowed to drain. Note - the vine should be held in place as the water is added. Once drained, add soil to the top of the hole and tamp down gently. Create a four inch high ring of soil around the vine, fill with water, and allow to drain. Mulch the plant by filling the ring area with two to three inches of bark or other organic mulch, but keep the bark two to three inches AWAY from the vine stem.

  7. Training and Pruning - Begin this practice at the time of planting by pruning off dead and damaged sections. Training should also be begun by making figure-eight loos from garden tape or strips of soft cloth to gently guide the vine to its support. As shoots grow, continue this process.

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