En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - November 04, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Trees, Vines
Title: Can a mustang grape and an oak coexist in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a healthy mustang grape vine growing on an oak in my yard. While the vine provides plenty of good food and a pleasant environment for many birds throughout the year, I feel it is overtaking the oak. The largest part of the trunk of the vine is just less than one inch in diameter. I would like to prune the vine this November or December and would like to do it carefully to prevent harm to both the tree and the vine. How much can I prune the vine? Or to put it differently, how much of the vine should I leave above ground? If pruned, what other care will the vine need to continue living?

ANSWER:

In all honesty, we think you are going to have to choose between the oak and the vine. If you drive through this part of the state in the Summer, you will often see a huge mound of grapevines. What you cannot see is the tree beneath that mound, and neither can the sun. With its big leaves, vigorous growth and vining capabilities, the grapevine will soon shade out the leaves of the tree it is using for support, and the tree will die. In the Winter, that vine is just straggling dead stalks hanging down, and if they're hanging down from a dead tree, that's even more unattractive. From your description, that's already a pretty vigorous example, and from personal experience, we can tell you it won't go quietly.

If you elect to keep the grapevine, you don't need to give it any care. It is a native plant to this area, and will grow with normal rainfall and sunlight, in the soil in your yard, without need for any maintenance at all, except a nice tree to climb on. The plant can be propagated by cuttings or seeds, and perhaps you would prefer to put it on a fence or trellis for the birds. Again from personal experience, we can tell you the mustang grape makes pretty good jelly, but it takes a LOT of sugar. 

If you decide to save the tree, get all the vines out of it as soon as you can. Cut off the vines fairly close to the ground and quickly paint the cut edge with a broad-spectrum herbicide. Don't spray it, and don't spill it-it can hurt the trees and other plants just as much. And you'll probably have to continue to grub out sprouts and even redo the herbicide painting for some time before the vine truly gives up and goes away.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Vitis mustangensis

Vitis mustangensis

Vitis mustangensis

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Small flowering tree for cemetery in TX
November 07, 2010 - I am looking for a native large shrub or small tree to plant at a cemetery in Pflugerville, TX, preferable something with flowers. I need something that won't have a large root system that would dis...
view the full question and answer

Falling Balls from an Oak in Kingsland TX
May 25, 2015 - I have a large Live Oak in the back yard, with St. Augustine grass under it. It is April 3, 2015. The leaves have fallen and now little tiny round balls are falling. I am hearing a popping noise und...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on 3 year old maple turning brown in Lebo, KS.
July 16, 2011 - Hello, one of our five Maple trees which is is 3 yrs. old now, we saw a week ago that the leaves started turning brown and dropping. My question is: Will the tree survive this and return healthy next ...
view the full question and answer

Brown rings on grass under live oaks in Austin
June 13, 2013 - There are brown rings in the grass at the dripline on several Live Oak trees in our neighborhood. What causes this? The trees appear healthy.
view the full question and answer

Viability of Desert Willow and Hong Kong Orchid Tree in Spring Branch, TX
December 26, 2006 - We live in Spring Branch, Rt 281 north of San Antonio. We want to plant a Regal Desert Willow tree and a Hong Kong Orchid tree. Will the cold / freeze be a problem? Where locally can we purchase th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center