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Mr. Smarty Plants - Removing competition of mustang grapes from live oaks

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Thursday - January 26, 2006

From: Wimberley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Removing competition of mustang grapes from live oaks
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have several native mustang grape vines on our rural property that seem to be taking over the live oaks on which they are becoming entwined. Is it advisable to remove them or are they harmless? And is it possible to take some of their wood cuttings and root them for future planting using trellises instead of trees?

ANSWER:

You should definitely remove the mustang grape vines from your liveoaks. They will compete with the trees for water and soil nutrients and can also harm the trees by limiting light penetration to the trees and physically breaking down the canopy. Winter, while there are no leaves on them, is the time to destroy them by cutting them off at the ground. You probably also want to pull the roots out of the ground to prevent them from sprouting again. The vines themselves may be difficult to remove from the trees at first; but after they have had a while to decompose a bit, they should be fairly easy to pull out of the trees.

There are several things you can do to preserve plants to grow on a trellis. One possibility for producing your own plants is to do ground layering from living vines that aren't growing on your oaks. Plants can also be produced by rooting wood cuttings. The wood should be semi-soft to mature wood collected in the fall from that year's growth. They will root in moist sand or vermiculite (any material that allows good drainage); in regular soil, they usually rot before they root. You can also sow the seeds outdoors in the fall to produce plants emerging in March.

You can read more about the mustang grape and its propagation and cultivation on the Plants for a Future database and also in the Native Plants Database.
 

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