How to Train Climbing Vines

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How to Train Climbing VinesClimbing vines naturally know how to climb up, down, over and around structures, but most vines can do with a little training. When you buy a climbing vine your purchase may also include a trellis or other structure that you would like to see it cover. Unfortunately, your vine may not always see our trellis as the perfect structure to wrap itself around, that’s where your encouragement come in.

This guide will introduce you to the basics of controlling vine growth including the different ways vines climb, where to train vines, starting a climbing vine, and how to train climbing vines.

Climbing Vines to Consider
Climbing Vines that you can add to your garden come in a huge variety including leafy ivy that is best for flat surfaces, twining florals that look best on trellises and along fences, and creepers which attach themselves to whatever structure is nearest.

Some flat surface vines to consider are English Ivy, Boston Ivy, Virginia Creeper, Winter Creeper, Trumpet Vine and Climbing Hydrangea. Flowering vines that look great on trellises include Clematis, Passion Flower, Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Sweet Pea, Morning Glory, Purpleleaf Grape, and Honeysuckle.

Different Ways Vines Climb
Knowing how the vine that you are adding to your garden climbs will help you when it is time to plant and train your climbing vine. There are basically two ways vines climb; attaching themselves to flat surfaces with an adhesive they produce or twining parts of themselves around supports.

Ivy and creepers use adhesive produced in the plant to attach to flat walls and other surfaces. Some vines grow tendrils that curl out from the main stem, each tendril has several discs on the very ends. These discs are where the adhesive is located; the tendrils reach out and the discs grab on to a wall anchoring the vine down.

Another way vines attach themselves with adhesive is with the use of aerial roots. Generally when you picture roots you think of them as being located underground, but some plants like vines have roots that grow along the stem. Vines grow aerial roots that produce a sticky adhesive that attaches the climber to walls in a very secure manner.

Now that we know how vines attach to surfaces using adhesive, lets look at vines that climb by twining themselves around supports. Again, there are two different ways vines climb using twisting and twining, with the use of tendrils and by twining stems themselves.

Vines like Sweet Pea and Clematis grow tendrils that shoot out from the stem. These tendrils are the parts of the vine that attach the plant to a trellis by twisting around the support. Jasmine, Morning Glory, and Honeysuckle use twining stems to climb structures. The entire stems of the vine weaves and winds its way in and around posts and lattice like structures. Because of their weight and the strength of the twining stems these vines are best planted near strong posts and other structures that are capable of supporting them.

Where to Train Vines
When you are looking for a place in your garden to plant and train a vine there are a couple things you want to look for. You always want to keep in mind the type of climber you are planting, an adhesive or a curler. If you will be planting an ivy or a creeper look for a large wall or other large stable support that the vine can attach itself to and cover.

For vines with twining stems and tendrils the best location to train is on a trellis, fence, or arbor. If you do not already own one, make sure you select one that is appropriate in size for the type of vine you are growing. Remember, twining stems like Jasmine will require a very sturdy and strong arbor or posts to support the weight and strength of the vine. Smaller, delicate vines like Clematis and Passion Flower do fine on trellises and single post structure, like standing mailboxes or lamp posts.

When you are purchasing a wooden trellis or arbor make sure to choose one that will be weather and rot resistant. Try redwood or cedar that has been pressure treated for the best and longest lasting structures.

Start a Climbing Vine
You have the vine, the trellis and your location; all you have to do now is plant and get that vine climbing. To begin determine where your trellis or support will be placed, if you are planting next to an existing structure this does not apply to you. Do not install your new trellis yet, but mark the ground where the supports will be located.

Now, dig a hole about eight inches away from the spot marked for the support. You want your hole to be twice the size of the pot that the vine you will be planting comes in. Fill the hole with about two inches of loose soil for the roots of the vine to be able to spread out in. Remove the vine from its pot and set it in the hole, fill the hole in with loose soil. Gently press down on the soil around the stem of the vine to make sure it is completely supported. Water your plant soon after planting.

When you have finished planting your vine you can install the new trellis you have purchased. Ensure that the trellis is deep enough in the ground to remain stable in windy weather and support the vine that will be growing on it.

How To Train Your Vine
Once your vine has established itself in its new location your job of training it to grow where you want begins. With a trellis or arbor training is easiest. Use fabric ties to tie stems to the trellis until the naturally grab on and climb up on their own. Choose a large stem and bring it as close to a post of the trellis as possible. Tie the fabric off in the back of the trellis where it will not get in the way of the vines growth. Repeat this step with anymore large stems and up the main stem as it grows, if the vine does not need guiding you do not need to keep tying it off.

When your vine begins climbing up a wall or support on its own the second part of training comes into place, pruning. In order to control the growth and direction of your climbing vine you need to regularly prune it. If the vine begins to get to heavy or bushy in one area trim it back with a pair of shears. Likewise, if the vine begins heading in a direction where you do not want it to establish itself, trim back the wayward stem.

Happy Gardening!

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