Growing and Care of Trumpet Vines

Trumpet vine grows happily through much of the United States and that's good, because there are few plants more attractive to hummingbirds. If you need a sturdy, easy-to-grow vine for sun or partial shade or want to attract hummingbirds to your yard, plant a trumpet vine. While there are some gardeners who consider the trumpet vine invasive, it has many good features if carefully managed.

You may know the Trumpet vine, Campis radicans, by one of its other common names: Trumpet Creeper, Hummingbird vine or Cross Vine. It is native to the Southeastern Untied States but has naturalized in many other areas. There are also Asian species that have been hybridized with our native species to produce different colors and forms.

Growing trumpet vines
Before you purchase and plant a trumpet vine, carefully plan where you want to plant it. While beautiful in bloom, it can be very invasive and destructive. Do not plant trumpet vines close to homes or outbuildings. The aerial roots that the vine produces creep under shingles and boards and lift them; the heavy vines may collapse structures that are not sturdy. The roots of the trumpet vine will crack foundations, come up through asphalt and invade sewer lines. If a vine climbs into a tree it may eventually kill it. Near flower beds it will send out invaders from its root system that will soon overtake the bed and are very difficult to eradicate, even with common weed killers.

So where do you plant it? Plant trumpet vine on a sturdy trellis or fence some distance from the house or flowerbeds. Plant it on a pole or dead tree in an area that can be mown around. Without support, trumpet vine will form a large shrub. If it's situated in an area that can be mown around, this is often the best solution. Keep suckers mown or trimmed down and prune and thin aggressively to keep it in control.

Trumpet vine is hardy from Zones 4 to 9 and will grow in sun or partial shade in almost any soil. It will even grow in fairly deep shade, although it will seldom bloom there. Gardeners usually buy trumpet vines as plants. The vines send out underground runners that develop into new plants that can be detached and transplanted. Trumpet vine resents transplanting, however, and may sulk the first year. Potted plants from a nursery transplant somewhat better. Once it gets established, though, watch out. Trumpet vine can grow 30 feet or more in one season. Trumpet vines can also be started from cuttings, which root fairly easily.

The trumpet vine has compound leaves, consisting of 7 to 11 leaflets per stem. They are slow to leaf out in the spring, so be careful when pruning out winter damage. Once it gets established, the trumpet vine thrives on pruning. Thin and prune aggressively to control and shape the plant.

Trumpet vine flowers consist of five petals fused into a long, tubular shape that flares out at the end. Most trumpet vines have orange flowers; the color can vary somewhat depending on the weather and the age of the flower. In full sun, with rich soil and even moisture, the trumpet vine can be in bloom from early summer through fall. In dry or very hot conditions, the trumpet vine may stop blooming for a while. Hummingbirds love trumpet vines and a large plant may have several hummers on it at the same time. The flowers also attract bees and ants. Trumpet vine flowers eventually turn into bean-like seedpods full of flat, paperlike seeds, if the hummers have done their work.

Keep trumpet vines well-watered as they get established. They do not need fertilizer and seldom get diseases or insect pests. If drought conditions develop in your area, a deep watering may keep them in bloom longer. Trumpet vine stems become thick and woody over time. These woody vines usually survive winter and then put out new growth. Where trumpet vines are grown as a bush, they will die back to the ground in some areas but will come back quickly from the roots in the spring. Wait until spring growth has started, which may be quite late, before pruning out winter damage, as it is difficult to determine dead wood on these vines. In the far South, trumpet vines may remain semi-evergreen.

Choosing varieties
Mme Galen is an old selection that is very deep orange. Apricot is a yellow-orange. Indian Summer is a new variety that has a deep-orange throat and lighter-orange flare and will bloom even in Zone 10. Summer Snowfall has red-orange flowers ande leaves are variegated with white.

Using trumpet vines
Despite some drawbacks, trumpet vines are attractive in bloom and attract hummingbirds and bees to the garden. They can make a fast-growing screen in difficult areas. Many types of birds nest in trumpet vines and the seeds are also eaten by birds.

Trumpet vine causes a rash on some people who handle the plants.

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