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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.

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

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Thursday - September 10, 2009

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Grape Vines and spacing for Portland, OR
Answered by: Amy Johnson

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a somewhat small south-facing yard next to my home (less than 8' wide). I would like to build a tall arbor for grapes that runs along the length of my home (about 40'). How far from my home should I build the arbor so as to not have the roots cause damage to my home? Would grapes do well climbing a tall arbor? Thanks for your help! DL

ANSWER:

Yes, grapes would love to climb a tall arbor!  You would probably be very safe planting the vines 6-10 feet away from your home, and depending on the orientation of the arbor, you may want to plant the vines on the far side of it, away from the house.  You can always double check that when you purchase the grape vines for planting.  The best native grape vine for your area would be the Riverbank Grape Vitis riparia (riverbank grape) since it is native not only to your state but is cold-hardy enough for your area.  You can see a picture of this vine at this link.  The California Wild Grape Vitis californica (California wild grape) is native to your state, but more so in the southwestern area of Oregon.  It may adapt well to your area, but need a little protection from extreme cold.  You can see a picture of this vine at this link.  The Fox Grape Vitis labrusca (fox grape) is one of the most popular grape vines in North America - the famous "Concord" variety is of the Fox Grape species - though it is native to the more eastern U.S.  You can see a picture of this vine at this link.  Again, it may adapt to your area well, and is more cold hardy than the California Wild Grape, though wouldn't be as sure a bet as the Riverbank Grape.  Some good places to purchase these vines can be found at this link: National Suppliers Directory.

 

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