Native Vines, Figs and Tomatoes

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Trumpet vine image

Trumpet vine. Photo by paw_mak from Pixabay.

There are a couple of native vines that you should look at adding to your landscape this summer. Clematis viorna, Vase Vine has beautiful urn-shaped blooms and begins blooming in early June, blooms sporadically throughout the summer with purple or red flowers. This native vine grows across the eastern United States in rights-of-way, moist woodland edges, and gardens. It is also deciduous, meaning it will lose its leaves during the fall. It prefers dappled sunlight to partial shade. Campsis radicans, Trumpet Vine, is a dense, vigorous, multi-stemmed, deciduous, woody vine that attaches itself to structures and climbs by aerial rootlets. In nature, it can be found in swamps, forests, and thickets.

Trumpet vine is easily grown in a wide variety of soils. It is best planted in average soils with regular moisture in full sun to partial shade. Foliage grows well in shade, but plants need good sun for best flowering. It blooms on new growth, so early spring pruning will not affect the flowering. Vines must be grown on sturdy structures because mature plants produce considerable weight. Trumpet Vine likes to grow, so be sure you give it plenty of room. There are many cultivars to choose from with flower color ranging from gold and yellow-orange to red & burgundy. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds which are the principal pollinator of this plant.

Growing figs on a fig tree

Figs growing. Photo by malubeng from Pixabay.

As summer strolls along the time for figs to ripen approaches. The previous relatively mild winter months helped figs to produce a good crop of new shoots resulting in a bounty of small green fruit. Depending on the variety, in North Carolina figs tend to ripen as early as late June through August continuing into September. Those small green figs should be well on their way to gaining in size and maturing in color. Fig ripeness cues include sight, touch, and taste. By sight, ripe figs tend to droop while hanging on the tree or bush, are larger in size than immature green fruit, and with the exception of a few varieties have a change in color. By touch, ripe figs should be soft when gently squeezed. Unripe figs remain firm. By taste, ripe figs are sweet with a soft texture. Unripe figs lack sweetness and can be somewhat rubbery. It can take figs up to two months from fruit formation to reach optimal ripeness; patience is key. It can also take figs up to six years to produce fruit from time of planting. A severely cold winter will also reduce the figs crop for the next year. Green figs will not ripen off the tree. Figs picked just before full ripeness will continue to soften and become sweeter if left in a dry location with a moderate temperature.

Tomato leaflet infected pepino mosaic virus.

Tomato leaflet infected with mosaic virus. Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service.

If the leaves of your tomato plants seem to be rolling or “cupping” then your plants could be experiencing what is called physiological leaf roll of tomato. It can be caused by a number of factors, including environmental stresses, viral infection, or herbicide damage. Which leaves are rolling – old leaves, new leaves, or all leaves? What direction do the leaves roll – upward or downward? Are any other parts of the plant, including fruit exhibiting symptoms? Excessive moisture and nitrogen, lack of phosphorus, heat, drought, and transplant shock are some of the cultural factors that can cause leaf roll. Symptoms show in the lower leaves with an upward cupping of leaflets. The affected leaves generally retain a normal, healthy green color. Over time, all of the leaves on the plant may be affected. The condition has minimal impact on fruit production and plant growth. Some viral infections also cause leaf rolling in tomatoes. When tomato plants are infected with either Tomato yellow leaf curl or Tomato mosaic virus, new leaves become cupped and pale green in color, fruit may also brown internally, and the entire plant may also be stunted in growth. There is no treatment for virus-infected plants. Removal and destruction is recommended. Weeds often act as hosts to the viruses, so controlling them can reduce virus transmission by insects. When tomato plants are exposed to 2,4-D herbicide, symptoms include downward rolling of leaves and twisted growth. Herbicide injury cannot be reversed, but if the plant is not killed, new growth may be normal. Always be very careful when spraying an herbicide, as it may drift much further than anticipated.

For more information about horticulture and other topics contact Colby Griffin, or 919-496-3344.