Trumpet Vine Growth, Care and Pruning

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Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, can be spectacular. It is a bushy ornamental deciduous shrub or woody vine that is typically cultivated as a vining climber wandering over rocky areas and covering banks. The orange trumpet vine plant is prized for its lush, clean green leaves and robust branches crowned with clusters of crimson and brilliant orange trumpet-shaped blooms. Hummingbirds are drawn to it.

Trumpet vine can be spectacular reaching heights of 30 feet. In the right conditions, it is a prolific grower. They use aerial rootlets to extend their reach and to grow, which can make them a creeper vine. On the positive side, this allows them to cover various sorts of rough surfaces, including tree trunks. On the negative side, keep them away from wooden structures, they are likely to cause damage by loosening shingles.

Quick Growing Guide

Botanical Name: Campsis radican

Genus: Campsis

Botanical Family: Bignoniaceae

Also Called: Trumpet vine, Trumpet Creeper

En français: Trompette de Virginie

Blooms:

Water: Moderate need, water only if wilting

Pollinators:

Hardiness Zones:

Campsis radicans can be beautiful when planted on a trellis. However, as the trumpet vine develops, your trellis will most likely need to be well-anchored, wired, or supported. The trumpet vine may shift a trellis as it develops.

Hardiness Zone

Campsis Radicans is hardy in zones 4–9. It is native to much of the eastern and central United States, as well as Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec in Canada. It can be found in woodlands, thickets, fields, streams, roadside ditches, and railroad tracks.

Trumpet Vine Care

Soil and Water

Trumpet creeper vines grow best in soil that is rich, healthy, and well-drained. However, they are hardy, drought tolerant and can grow in a variety of soil conditions. Climbers look best when they are planted on poles or old tree stumps.

Sun or Shade

Plants may thrive in partial shade, but for most blossoms, plant the vine in full sun. Planting in shady locations will likely limit flowering.

Trumpet Vine Flowers

To increase flowering some extra feedings of superphosphate can also help. Although full sun is recommended, the vines will grow and bloom in the city where full sun is not always an option, or even near the seashore.

Pruning Trumpet Flower Vines

If unchecked, a trumpet vine’s fast plant development can cause it to spread quickly and become a nuisance. However, with careful trimming, it may be kept under control, maintained and you can guide its shape and growth.

Prune your trumpet vines in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. Prune the long lateral shoots about two nodes before growth begins.

Note that they flower on the current season’s growth, so pruning new growth in the spring and summer removes new clusters of trumpet shaped orange-and-scarlet blossoms. Your flower won’t bloom this year.

When pruning, use gloves and wash your hands promptly after touching any part of the plant. Its sap can cause skin irritation.

Propagating The Trumpet Vine

From Seed

Trumpet vine grow well from seeds. Simply sow a few seeds two inches deep in rich well-drained soil. Alternatively, If you plant the seeds in a six or eight inch pot, then bury the pot level with the earth, the seedlings will be in an easy-to-relocate container. It is recommended to plant the seeds in the fall, but you may do it in the winter if you can work the soil. The seedlings will appear in early spring.

Trumpet vine seeds
Campsis radicans Seeds

From Cuttings

If in spring, take stem cuttings and place them in a warm propagation case. If in autumn, take mature growth cuttings and place them in a frost proof frame or cold greenhouse with sandy compost or vermiculite.

Alternatively, root cuttings and sucker growths are also quick ways to grow.

By Air layers

The trumpet creeper can be propagated by air-layers.

Campsis Species and Hybrids

There are several species as well as hybrids.

  • Native trumpet creeper campsis radicans is the hardiest. It can climb up to 30 ft. or more by means of aerial roots by which it clings.
    This flowering vine has attractive foliage color, and in late summer – August – September – the lateral shoots bear terminal clusters of showy, funnel-shaped, broad-petaled orange-red tubular blooms. There are several garden forms including a yellow trumpet vine flower. Mature plants are hardy, but young plants may be killed to the ground returning in spring, from the roots.
  • The variety Campsis flava has cheery orange-yellow flowers.
  • Campsis var. speciosa is more of a bush than a climber.
  • Campsis chinensis, from China and Japan is less hardy and less vigorous.
    It is not such a high climber as radicans and produces fewer aerial roots, but has larger and more brilliant, large clusters of broadly lobed, deep-orange and red flowers in late summer.
  • Several hybrids have been raised from this as a parent; one of these is named Campsis Tagliabuana.
  • Campsis grandiflora – The more tender Chinese trumpet creeper, generally grown in mild climates. It is neither so high nor so unruly as Campsis radicans; and some of its hybrids are even more refined and graceful. Three-inch scarlet flowers appear in late summer.

Campsis radican Hybrids

Not hardy North Campsis hybrida, a hybrid from two species, is intermediate in hardiness and habit, with flowers almost as large and showy as those of the Chinese parent.

‘Tagliabuana’ (‘Madame Galen’) – A hybrid of the two species, and considered more desirable.
Soft apricot-orange flowers are two inches across and three inches long, in bountiful clusters from July on.

It is less lusty, gives a more open effect, and requires less pruning and control. I have seen it grown as a specimen and as a hedge.

Family: Bignoniaceae
Common Name: Trumpet Creeper, Trumpet Vine
Hardiness Zone: USDA Zone 5 south

Poisonous Leaves and Seeds

When pruning, use gloves and wash your hands promptly after touching any part of the plant. If eaten, the leaf is moderately poisonous and causes stomach problems.

Except for the warning about sap irritation, we found no evidence that the plant included any harmful elements, however we don’t think these seeds will produce a very nice batch of beans like lima or pinto beans. Source: Wildflowers.org

Hummingbirds

They are excellent for attracting hummingbirds. Trumpet vine’s distinctive characteristic that attracts hummingbirds is its beautiful trumpet-shaped blossoms in vibrant red and orange colours.

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