July 16, 2016

1 - Some vegetable plants require a trellis, some do not, and some can grow on a trellis even if they do not need the trellis.

Yard and Garden July 16, 2016

Q.

Which of these vegetable plants need a trellis - okra, tomato, snap peas, Hungarian peppers, summer squash, and zucchini? I looked for a list of trellis vegetables but could not find one.

A.

Of the plants you listed only snap peas are running plants. I grow tomatoes in cages to keep them upright and the fruit off the ground, but they would not properly utilize a trellis (twining around it).

Okra, peppers, most summer squash and zucchini do not need a trellis. You may want to use well-drained organic mulch (bark, straw, or pine needles) under the short statured squash and zucchini to keep their fruit off the ground, but they will not climb a trellis.

Other plants that could use a trellis are vining plants such as climbing beans (not bush beans), cucumbers, some winter squash varieties and small pumpkins (but they do not need a trellis). Even though they do not need a trellis, you can grow some smaller melons on a trellis to maximize the number of plants you can grow in a limited space by using vertical space upwards, but you will need to create a sling from old panty hose or t-shirts to support the fruit on the trellis so that they do not break the stems of the plants as the fruit gets heavy.

Trellised plants can be used to create shade for crops that benefit from shade. Proper spacing and orientation (running north/south) is necessary to see that shaded plants get enough light, but the vertically grown plants (and the taller plants) can create shade to help other plants. That is actually part of the principle behind Native American "Three Sisters" garden style.

By the way, the snap peas are a crop that would benefit from the shade of other plants if they are planted in the heat of summer for a fall harvest. Peas do not like the heat that most of New Mexico can provide, but the shade from trellised plants may help them survive and grow until the weather cools in the fall and they can produce a fall crop at that time.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.

Links:

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