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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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Wednesday - February 06, 2013

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Vines
Title: Vine for pergola in Belton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, I would like to know what vine would be best to cover a rather large pergola. It will be in full sun in caliche soil. :( The area has access to a water hose and I would like to have something native. Thank you,

ANSWER:

The very first vine that springs to mind is Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine). Here are its Growing Conditions:

"Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, acidic or calcareous soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: Some shade is tolerated, but the best flowering is achieved in full sun. Tolerates brief flooding."

From a previous Smarty Plants answer:

"Now, let's talk a bit about caliche. Those of us who grew up in West Texas thought that was what all dirt looked like, except for the sand in the sandstorms in the mid-1950's. "Caliche" is calcium carbonate, and the name comes from the Spanish word for lime. Read this Arizona Master Gardeners article on Conquering Home Yard Caliche. They recommend either putting down 8 inches of topsoil (for lawns) or digging chimneys out of the soil, replacing the caliche in the holes with topsoil and compost. In both cases, they recommend removing the caliche."

Next, the crossvine is said to grow in "calcereous soils." Guess what that means:

"Calcareous is an adjective meaning mostly or partly composed of calcium carbonate, in other words, containing lime or being chalky."

Sounds like caliche to me. And we don't think you are going to need to dig chimneys or replace with 8 inches of topsoil. The beauty of native plants is that they are already accustomed to the soil in which they are growing. However, it sure wouldn't hurt to work in some good organic mulch or compost to loosen up that soil and add some nutrients.

 

From the Image Gallery


Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

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