Trumpet Vines

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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A true North American native, the trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) grows fairly well across the entire United States but is most comfortable in the southeast. Taking both heat and cold in stride, it produces trumpet-shaped orange flowers that hummingbirds in particular consider very attractive and palatable. Its pinnate compound leaves grow from six to 15 inches long off a woody vine that itself grows to at least 35 feet if left on its own.

Flowering typically lasts from about June to September, and is most robust in full sun. The plant's aerial roots cling readily to any surface. Take care in letting it go on brick and stucco, because it grows with such vigor that it can be destructive. Trumpet vine is excellent, however, in hiding fences and blocking the view of unattractive buildings.

The trumpet vine's Asian cousin, Campsis grandiflora, is native to Japan and China and will grow well in mild climates but will not survive frost. It blooms later in the summer and into the autumn. Hardy in USDA zones seven through nine, its blooms are shorter and wider than C. radicans' flowers. These two species, the Asian and North American, have been successfully crossed. C. tagliabuana produces lovely salmon-red large blooms and is fairly hardy.

Care and Feeding of Trumpet Vines

Caring for trumpet vines is, for the most part, straightforward, as is propagation. Pruning should always be done in the fall or winter. To encourage blooms, cut the vine back in winter by at least two buds. If a vine has been neglected for a number of years, cut back vigorously. You'll enjoy the rewards of your effort the following season. Trumpet vines are easy going when it comes to soil pH, equally happy from highly acidic (pH 5.0) to strongly alkaline (pH 9.0). Propagation is easy, whether from seed, cuttings (hardwood or softwood), or layering (simple, air, or serpentine).


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