WHICH IS TENDRILS FUNCTION AND HOW TO USE THEM IN TUTORING
Using tendrils function in your favor eases the tutoring process
Tendrils are structures that plants use to hold themselves to anything that meets its way by, in most cases, rolling around it. These structures also help them to grow higher than others plants with which they compete for better sun light or better growth conditions. Most tendrils are prehensile to contact, this means that when something touches them, they roll to the opposite side. Tendrils function all the same way; that is to say, they all try to provide support to the plant, no matter which of these types they are:
- Modified leaves: They have the shape of a little stem, which branches into two or five parts, coming out of the tip of the leaf. This type of tendrils is common in green peas (Pisum sativum). Some plants, like passiflora, or passion flower, originate its tendrils from the axis of the leaves.
- Modified leaves and stems: A lot of curcubits plants develop these types of tendrils, such as pumpkins, cucumbers crops and melons. They also divide into two or five branches.
- Modified flowers: Tendrils appear at the base of the inflorescence, as in the case of the Cardiospermum genus, which grows in tropical and warm zones.
- Coming from the stem: The best known plants that generate this type are vines, which are characterized by developing multi-branched tendrils, that born on the opposite side of the branch where leaves insert themselves. Tendrils function makes this plant capable of reaching 50 feet (15 m) tall.
Knowing how to use tendrils function in your favor can make you save a lot of effort and material when tutoring. However, it is vital to provide these delicate plants with the best possible conditions. The soil where they are must be rich in organic matter and should not have undergrowth or weeds. This maintenance may be boosted by using herbicides. Choosing what type of support to use is also important and will depend, of course, of the plant genus; nevertheless, there are some support methods that work better than others for most climbing plants. For example, espaliers are not a good option for tutoring in most cases because bars tend to be too thick and that makes you not to take as much advantage as you should of tendrils function. Using agricultural raffia to help them to attach themselves better only makes it worse because, sooner or later, it will become a threat by harboring fungi and bacteria. Another very used method, but not recommended at all, consists of using wire trellises or simply wires to secure branches, which should be avoided as far as possible due to the fact that it will damage the plant when stems grow and become thicker. The most adequate way of tutoring climbing plants is using plastic meshes, because of several reasons. To start with, they are cheap, easy to install and can be used both for vertical or horizontal tutoring. The material they are made of is thin, but very resistant, nylon, which makes trellises maintain optimal phytosanitary conditions while making you use tendrils function in your favor, since they will easily wrap around nylon as they develop. Anyway, if this is the method of your preference, you have to keep in mind that even though you can use a single mesh for several plants, there must be a certain distance between them. If they still have superficial roots, there has to be a minimum distance of 18 inches (45 cm) between each plant, if that is not the case, you can plant them closer to one another.