08-May-09 09:51 | Eric Stafne

I receive lots of questions on grow tubes.  Most do not concern whether or not to use them, but rather how to use them properly.  In my opinion, the greatest benefit of a grow tube is protection from herbicide injury, as well as animal damage.  However, they must be used properly.  Soil must be mounded around the base of the tube so that no potential herbicide can get underneath it and touch the vine.  There downsides to using grow tubes as well.  The most obvious is cost.  Grow tubes are an added expense.  Using a grow tube may promote insect pests, fungi, and poor quality growth.  So, one must make a decision on whether to use them or not.  I think the upside outweighs the downsides.  Weed control is difficult enough and any way to make it easier is well worth it, although they must be used properly.  Be sure to remove them in the late summer or early fall (September) to allow wood to harden off.  Put them back on in spring prior to budbreak (so as to not damage shoots and buds).  At the very least the contact with the soil should be broken during fall and winter to allow some airflow through the tube.  THIS IS NOT IDEAL.  Removal and reapplication is best.  Color and size?  I don’t think color plays a big role in vine development, at least not enough to make a decision based on that factor alone.  I would probably stay away from dark colored tubes as they can absorb a lot of heat.  I like the 30 inch size of tube, but others can be used as well — it depends on what you hope to achieve.  So, I say to go ahead and use grow tubes, but it isn’t a necessity.