Tuesday, August 23, 2011

T is for Trumpet Vine

Trumpet Vine (Trumpet Creeper) is either loved or hated by owners. 

The old traditional orange is called Campsis radicans "Enredadera Trampetilla".   The yellow version is Campsis radicans "Flava" Enredadera americana-amarilla.  There are several other new shades of red and peach.

Campsis is a genus in the bignonia family (Bignoniaceae).  The two species are Campsis grandiflora - the Chinese Trumpet Vine from East Asia and Campsis radicans - the American Trumpet Vine from Southeastern U.S..  And, there are several hybrids blending the two.

I'll start with the negatives: 
  • It self seeds (either by dropping seeds or by birds dispersing.)
  • It spreads by underground runners.
  • The tap root is long and once established it is difficult to totally remove.
  • It holds on by tendrils and those tendrils may damage building surfaces.
  • Climbing up the side of a house, it will cover all surfaces, including gutters, windows, roof, etc.
  • Left to grow, it becomes huge and may shade out other plants.
  • In mild climates, it is very hard to contain or destroy.
The positives:
  • It attracts hummingbirds, bees, wasps.
  • Thrives on neglect.
  • Good to Zone 4a  (-30F). 
  • Will vine up to 30 feet.
  • Blooms all summer.
  • Blooms in sun to part shade.
  • Makes a great privacy shield.
  • Once established it doesn't mind drought.
  • Makes a nice shade.
The trick with Trumpet Vine is it needs the right place to be beneficial; otherwise, it's a pest.

Some other facts:
  • It blooms on new growth.
  • Its roots and vines become woody with age.
  • Shoots that come up in the lawn can simply be mowed.
  • It takes a couple of years to get established before it starts to vine and bloom.
  • Do not plant on utility (phone/electric) poles.  It may become energized if it touches the lines, plus, it's difficult to climb during emergency repairs.
  • Wear gloves when handling if you're sensitive to the leaf sap.
  • If you want to contain, trim in the fall.

Nitrogen rich soil will produce foliage and growth but no blooms.   Do not fertilize the vine nor the grass around the plant.  If this isn't the problem for no blooms, an old garden solution to is beat the woody stem with a broom handle.  Neighbors will talk but it might work!

My success was when the top of the old elm came down in a nasty storm, We left the substantial trunk.  I planted the vine next to the base.  It's a beautiful blooming statement in a part of the yard where there is no other summer horizontal color.  (The idea was thanks to my friend's, Christy, example on an unenergized/unused nite light pole.) 

There's a good possibility it will strangle or weigh down live trees making them a poor arbor option.

The vine becomes very heavy and curls around things.  Planted on an arbor or pergola, it may take it down if it isn't large and well braced.  Because it does twine around the footers/columns, it is not easy to take it off the structure for painting or repairs.  These aren't necessarily negatives, simply the facts to allow you to choose the right products. 

Do I recommend Trumpet Vine?  Weigh the pros and cons and if your yard will accommodate nicely, you may want to give it a try.  Otherwise, admire it in someone else's yard.      

1 comment:

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