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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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Saturday - September 03, 2011

From: Newtown , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Shade Tolerant, Trees, Vines
Title: Stumps of fallen oaks in Hurricane Irene from Newton PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Two large red oaks fell in the woods in our yard in Newtown PA due to Hurricane Irene. The trees have been removed, but the stumps remain. Please can you recommend some fast-growing, attractive, native vines that we could plant to cover the unsightly stumps?

ANSWER:

Both Quercus coccinea (Scarlet oak) and Quercus rubra (Northern red oak) are referred to by the common name "red oak" and are native to Pennsylvania. It is really terrible that you lost such valuable trees. In the case of the exposed stumps, we would really prefer that it be taken out by a stump grinder, but contractors with that kind of equipment are probably going to be in short supply for a while. When a stump is ground, the large pieces of root can be removed, and the ground materials left to compost in the ground, preparing the soil for replanting in the Spring. A stump left to rot can provide a haven for insects and fungi in your garden.

You might have a while to consider these possibilities. Planting in Bucks County, in the southeastern tip of Pennsylvania, USDA Hardiness Zone 6b, should be postponed until warmer temperatures prevail in early Spring. In addition, vines in your area are all going to be deciduous, which means you won't have significant coverage in the Winter. Having said all that, we will go to our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search for vines. Since you say these stumps are located in a wood, we will specify part shade for Light Requirements. If you follow each plant link to the page in our database, you can learn Growing Conditions, Propagation Instructions and soil types for that vine.

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) - A high-climbing, aggressively colonizing woody vine to 35 ft., climbing or scrambling over everything in its path by aerial rootlets.

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) - High-climbing, twining vine, 3-20 ft. long, with smooth, glossy, paired, semi-evergreen leaves and 2-4 flowered clusters of red, tubular blooms followed by bright-red berries.

Clematis ligusticifolia (Western white clematis)- A strong, woody or semi-woody climber to 20 ft. or more.

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Western white clematis
Clematis ligusticifolia

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

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