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Agriculture Today

Good vines to block view?

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September 7, 2011 | 2,918 views | Post a comment

What are some good vines to consider to block an undesirable view? How about one for the sun and one for the shade?

A. Mascagnia, or butterfly vine, has yellow flowers that are followed by light green seed pods that resemble butterflies. Mascagnia is an evergreen vine that is in the mid-range of aggressiveness. It will cover a 10-foot-by-10-foot section of fence, but will not take over the neighborhood. Deer eat the vine. Hummingbirds and butterflies utilize the flowers for nectar. Mascagnia blooms from early summer until late fall. It is drought-tolerant.

Carolina jasmine does not twine or grasp its vertical assist; it is more of a leaner. The foliage is evergreen, so it can block unattractive views. In late winter and spring, it is covered with small, fragrant, yellow blooms. Butterflies will use the blooms for nectar. Of all the vines we now all use, Carolina jasmine has the most shade tolerance. Carolina jasmine is capable of covering an 8-foot-by-8-foot fence.

Q. Is ball moss killing my oak trees? It is all over them and they are not growing very well.

A. Ball moss is an epiphyte in that it draws moisture and nutrients from the air. It is not a parasite. One of its favorite places to grow is on branches in the understory of slow-growing live oaks. The humidity is high and the branches are dying from shade. Ball moss will also grow on other trees and even utility wires. It is not hurting the oak tree.

Q. What is that drought-tolerant St. Augustine variety that you are always talking about on the radio?

A. It is Floratam. It stayed green longer and greened-up faster after 60 days of drought than any other St. Augustine selections and even the Zoysia grasses. Only buffalo grass and Bermuda grass scored higher and they do not have shade tolerance.

Q. Do you need full sun to grow broccoli or cabbage?

A. Pretty much; the more sun, the better.

Q. What controls hornworms on tomatoes?

A. Bt products such as Dipel, Thuricide, or Bio-worm control. If you get it on them when they are young, spinosad will also do the job.

Q. When can we plant our wildflower seed?

A. From now through October is best. Find an area in full sun where the seed can touch the soil. It will not work well where there is an organic layer or sod.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at reader@wcn-online.com.

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