Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

Arabic name: بجنونيا

The Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) is a tough drought-tolerant deciduous vine that is native to the southeastern United States. It is a popular garden plant in temperate regions. This vigorous vine produces clusters of brightly-colored, reddish-orange, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom from June to August.

The Trumpet Vine grows to a height of 10m, with a spread of 2m. It has a fast growth rate, taking six months to one year to reach its mature size.

Requirements: Grows in full sun, and is frost hardy. Prefers rich soil, but can tolerate poor soils. Requires good drainage.

Water usage: Requires little watering (twice a month).

Appearance: The Trumpet Vine is a deciduous woody vine. Its bright green compound leaves are divided into 9 – 11 toothed leaflets, each of which is 6cm long. The 7 –10cm long tubular flowers grow in clusters of 6 – 12. Seeds are produced in a 10 – 20cm long slender capsule.

Notes on use: A vine or shrub grown for its striking orange flowers. Its roots enable it to attach itself unassisted to trellises, walls, and trees. However, care should be taken when planting the Trumpet Vine next to structures since its strong aerial roots may damage surfaces.

Propagation: Propagates easily by seed or root suckers.

Maintenance: The Trumpet Vine is characterized by aggressive growth, and produces numerous suckers. To keep it within bounds, trim regularly. Old specimens should be thinned to prevent them from becoming top heavy and disengaging from supporting surfaces.

Notes: The Trumpet Vine is attractive to hummingbirds. Contact with leaves and flowers may cause mild skin irritation. In favorable conditions, the Trumpet Vine can be invasive.

Distictis buccinatoria, commonly known as Red Trumpet Vine, Blood Red Trumpet Vine or Scarlet Trumpet Vine, is not for the horticulturally faint of heart nor those who detest pruning. This fast growing climber can reach up to at least 30′-40′ and has tendrils that grab onto anything it in its path. It will attach on to you if you stand still long enough! In other words, do not plan on using a flimsy trellis or single single stake for this plant – it needs a heavy means of support and lots of room to grow.

You’ll know what I mean when you look at the photo below. You can see how large the trunk of the trumpet vine can get as it ages. The form of the trunk is beautiful as it gnarls and twists its way up the wall.

This ain’t no young’un!

Here’s that same plant which as you can see climbs up and across the building and then down the stair railing all the way to the bottom. And yes, this vine does get pruned on a regular basis otherwise the stairs themselves would be completely covered with that glossy green foliage.

This is beautiful against the white walls when in flower

Speaking of pruning, I’ll tell you what I did to keep the Trumpet Vines I used to maintain in check when I was a professional gardener. In particular I’m going to refer to one that was growing on a long length of wooden fence in San Francisco and had to be pruned regularly to keep it from smothering a large camellia and the neighbor’s privet hedge. This was a very old vine and not the best place for it (it wasn’t planted by me) as it was maintenance intensive.

Here the Red Trumpet Vine covers, along with a Lavender Trumpet vine, a wall and the sides of 2 buildings downtown in Santa Barbara

This is what I did and it worked well. I would give it a good hard pruning in the Spring to set the shape and to keep it from going crazy. Then, every month I would prune off the stems that wanted to climb into and take over the surroundings plants. In late Fall, it would get another good pruning although not as hard as the one in Spring. The newer growth is really soft and easy to cut by the way. For the Spring pruning, I would also use lopers and a pruning saw.

As you can see here, it can be pruned and shaped – this does take maintenance!

This is a great use for this vine. It is planted on a very long length of chain link fence & hides the railroad tracks on the other side

Looking inside of a Podocarpus you can see how tangled the vine gets. Some alive, some dead

This poor podocarpus was completely smothered until the city cut the vine. As you can see, the dead remains because it has attached itself

As far as conditions go, Red Trumpet Vine needs sun, loves heat and flowers heaviest in the warmer months. Other months, the bloom is constant but much lighter. It likes well drained soil and prefers a regular, deep watering. After established, it is fairly drought tolerant. Much of it growing around town here in Santa Barbara gets no supplemental water at all. This year we’ve had no rain for almost 8 months now and this vine still grows like crazy.

The lovely red flowers are the other draw of this plant, along with its glossy green foliage. It tends to flower in clusters and as you can imagine, hummingbirds adore it.

The tubular,red flowers make it a hummingbird’s delight

Here it happily competes with Star Jasmine (also loved by hummingbirds) for wall space

To sum it all up, this is a really beautiful plant but danger can lay ahead Will Rogers – it needs the right spot with a lot of room to grow. The picture below says it all – a tractor left parked on the other side of the chain link fence bordering the train tracks is slowly becoming covered. Red Trumpet Vine is definitely a clinger!

Trumpet vine, Trumpet creeper (Campsis)

• Semievergreen or deciduous
• Zones vary
• Full sun or partial shade
• Regular to moderate watering
• Climbs by: clinging with aerial rootlets

Covered with trumpet-shaped flowers from early summer through late fall, these fast-growing vines are a popular choice for the garden ― and a favorite of hummingbirds, too. Many withstand colder zones; though they die to the ground in hard freezes, they make a rapid recovery. The flowers, carried in clusters of 6 to 12, are long tubes that flare open to 5-part lobes; leaves are divided featherwise into 7 to 11 leaflets.

It’s important to keep trumpet vines well pruned as they mature. Left untended, the heavy top growth can weaken the hold of the aerial rootlets and bring the whole vine tumbling down. After a plant has established itself, cut many of the stems to the ground; cut others back by half.

Chinese trumpet vine, Chinese trumpet creeper (C. grandiflora). Zones 4-12, 14-21, 29-32. This one is slightly less hardy than common trumpet vine; its flowers are somewhat larger, with more open lobes, and their color is more scarlet than orange. The plant reaches 30 feet.

Common trumpet vine, Common trumpet creeper (C. radicans). Zones 2-21, 26-41. Native to the United States, this is the most widely sold trumpet vine, flourishing throughout most of the country. It easily reaches 30 to 50 feet (and can weigh up to 100 pounds) in the milder parts of its range. Flowers of the species are 3-inch-long orange tubes that flare open to scarlet lobes; ‘Flava’ has yellow flowers.

C. tagliabuana. Zones 3-24, 26-34. Many gardeners prefer this hybrid to common trumpet vine for its somewhat larger flowers and more modest growth: while it can reach 30 feet, pruning often easily holds it to 15 to 20 feet. Most widely sold is ‘Mme. Galen’, with salmon red blooms.

Campsis, Trumpet Vine, Trumpet Creeper ‘Indian Summer’

Category:

Vines and Climbers

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Foliage:

Deciduous

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us

Height:

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

Spacing:

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown – Tell us

Danger:

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Orange

Red-Orange

Gold (yellow-orange)

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown – Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood heel cuttings

By grafting

By simple layering

By air layering

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

ROUGH AND READY, California

O Fallon, Illinois

New York City, New York

Portland, Oregon(7 reports)

Monroeville, Pennsylvania

Floyd, Virginia

Manassas, Virginia

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Pruning Trumpet Vines: Learn When And How To Prune A Trumpet Vine

Tough and beautiful, woody trumpet vines (Campsis radicans) rise to 13 feet (4 m.), scaling trellises or walls using their aerial roots. This North American native produces 3-inch (7.5 cm.) long, bright orange flowers in the shape of trumpets. Pruning trumpet vines is critical to establish a strong framework for the plant. Read on to learn how to prune a trumpet vine.

How to Prune a Trumpet Vine

It takes two or three years for a trumpet vine to develop a strong framework of branches. To accomplish this, you’ll want to start pruning trumpet vines the year after you plant them.

Since trumpet vine blooms in midsummer on current year’s growth, severe fall pruning won’t limit the vine’s flowers the next summer. In fact, pruning trumpet vines properly encourages the plants to produce more flowers every summer.

The plant is prolific and sends up multiple basal shoots. It’s a gardener’s job to reduce that number to begin building a long-term framework for the flowering shoots.

This process requires cutting trumpet vine plants back in the fall. The following spring, it’s time to select the best and the strongest vine shoots and prune back the rest. This pruning procedure is appropriate for newly planted trumpet vines and also for mature trumpet vines that need renovation.

When to Prune Trumpet Vines

Your first job is to harden your heart to cutting trumpet vine plants in autumn. When you are cutting trumpet vine plants back, you can prune them off at ground level or leave up to 8 inches (20 cm.) of vine.

This type of trumpet vine pruning encourages vigorous basal shoot development in spring. When new growth begins, you select several of the strongest shoots and train them to the supporting trellis. The rest must be cut to the ground.

Once a framework of several strong shoots extends over the trellis or allotted space – a process that may take several growing seasons – trumpet vine pruning becomes an annual affair. In spring, after all danger of frost is past, you prune off all lateral shoots to within three buds of the framework vines.

Trumpet Vine

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is a true North American plant. Native to the Southeast, it grows in most areas of the continent and is able to take the cold and the heat in stride. But it’s northern gardeners like me that appreciate it most: Few hardy vines can offer an equal amount of color and vigor. Many garden plants are described as blooming all summer long, but trumpet vine is one of the few to actually live up to this description. Its only requirements are a sunny exposure and a good pruning in winter.

I became acquainted with trumpet vine when I first bought a house and got serious about gardening. It was August when I moved in, and the garage wall was covered with hundreds of large trumpet-shaped orange blooms that attracted hummingbirds. It took me some time to find out what the spectacular plant was. Trumpet vine is very woody and at first I was under the impression it was a tree that had grown right against the wall. A closer inspection revealed adhesive suckers and eventually I found it identified among climbing plants.

The next spring, I was worried when the plant didn’t show any sign of life. I had been looking forward to a repeat of the “wall of blooms” from the previous summer, but the plant looked just about dead. Then, late in spring, it started showing a few green sprouts. I then realized that trumpet vine, even if it could easily put up with my USDA Zone 5 Canadian winter, likes heat and would wait for it before coming out of its long winter sleep. Nonetheless, it will survive areas as cold as zone 4, although in this zone it may suffer winter damage. While it is very adaptable, it has not become a problem plant and it does not tend to invade areas where it is not native.

Types of Trumpet Vines

Our North American native species, Campsis radicans, produces large, 3-inch-long, trumpet-shaped orange flowers at the tip of each year’s new growth. ‘Flava’ and ‘Aurea’ are yellow varieties of the same plant. In my experience, neither is as hardy as the species. Each leaf is divided into as many as 11 leaflets, each 2 to 3 inches long.

Campsis grandiflora (aka Bignonia chinensis) is a Sino-Japanese species, which can be grown in mild climates. It won’t survive long periods of frost. This trumpet vine is very similar to C. radicans but blooms in late summer and fall. The variety ‘Thumbergii’ has shorter but wider flowers. This plant is hardy to zones 7 through 9.

The two species, C. radicans and C. grandiflora, have been crossed to produce Campsis tagliabuana, which produces large attractive salmon-red blooms. Like its Chinese ancestor, it is more cold sensitive than the native, but by most standards is still reasonably hardy, to zone 7. It is also very tolerant of alkaline soil. Common varieties include ‘Crimson Trumpet’ and ‘Madame Galen’ (salmon-red flower).

Uses of Trumpet Vines

Trumpet vines are fast growing and are mostly used on walls where, if you let them, they will reach 40 feet. They are self clinging with aerial roots. However, much of the weight is supported by the woody trunk, which gets to be as large as the trunk of an old lilac bush. The exposed large trunk looks very good on the side of pergolas (although on a pergola the blooms are more easily admired from the outside than from the inside). They work particularly well as covering for a dead tree trunk, provided it is in the open and gets plenty of sun.

No One is Perfect

Trumpet vine has one big drawback, which is that it suckers a great deal. New shoots appear all around the plant. I believe this is the key reason the plant is more appreciated in the North, where winter helps keep the plant in check. In my zone 5 garden, it’s not a problem, perhaps partly due to my region, but also because lawns mostly surround it. The new shoots that push through the grass are mowed with the grass. However, if, like me, you have a gravel path next to the vine, some shoots will appear in the gravel in July and August and will have to be pulled out. You will also have to rake up the numerous blooms once in a while as they start fading and falling onto the ground.

Growing Tips

To give you a lot of bloom, trumpet vine needs to have a very sunny exposure. In the northern part of its range, a southeast facing wall where it gets maximum heat and sunshine is ideal. In more southern climates, it can put up with some shade. In places with less sunny summers, such as Northern Europe, trumpet vine does not bloom as reliably as it does in most of North America. It is very accommodating of soil and pH and has no serious pests. I will sometimes notice a few scales on mine, but they don’t seem to do any visible damage and the plant has been growing for over 20 years. Another requirement for good bloom is an annual pruning.

Pruning

Pruning trumpet vines is very straightforward and simple to do. Usually the plant is grown on a wall. You have a stem and some main branches that cling to the wall. Each spring, bunches of whips (3 to 4 feet long) grow out of these branches and away from the wall toward the sun. These are covered with leaves and, at their tips, a great many orange trumpets appear in early summer. In the first month, the quantity of bloom is quite spectacular, and contrary to, for instance, most reblooming roses, it remains impressive for most of the summer.

Once all the leaves have fallen after the first frost, you are left with “sticks” growing out of the main branches, away from the wall. You simply have to cut off all of these sticks at the base and the following year new ones will appear to once again produce a magnificent display. This pruning can be done any time from after the leaves have fallen until spring. It is an ideal job for the middle of winter when there are fewer things to do in the garden.

If the plant has been neglected for a few years, prune off everything that is not growing on the wall. This will ensure good blooms the next year. To give it the shape you want, you can also remove branches growing on the wall in inappropriate places (like at the top of the wall or under the eaves troughs).

After pruning, you are left with a bundle of woody but flexible whips that are 3 to 4 feet long. These are excellent to recycle as stakes for peas or for plants with heavy blooms such as double peonies. They can also be bent and used to support short plants such as dianthus. In this case, bend the stems and insert each end into the ground, making half loops through which your plants will grow and support themselves. You can also use these loops in pots.

Alain Charest, an avid home gardener and garden photographer, lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Photography by Alain Charest

Trumpet vines, hummingbird vine or Trumpet Creeper vine is the common name for Campsis radicans pronounced (kamp’-sis), which belongs to the family Bignoniaceae.

These bushy ornamental deciduous shrubs or woody vines are usually grown as vining climbers rambling over rocky places and covering banks.

Previously named Bignonia and Tecoma, these deciduous climbers are quite widely available.

Learn about the Tecoma vines:

  • Tecoma stans (Yellow trumpet flower)
  • Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle)

The orange trumpet vine plant is favored for its heavy, clean green foliage, and sturdy stems, tipped with clusters of bold trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of scarlet and flaming orange.

Their method of climbing is by aerial rootlets makes them suitable for covering all types of rough surfaces, including tree trunks – but keep them away from wooden walls.

If allowed on wooden buildings they are likely to do damage by loosening shingles. They can make wonderful specimens grown on a trellis.

Flourishing specimens can top thirty feet. These flowering vines need a trellis or other wiring and support when they get heavy. Without support, the wind can whip them loose from their moorings.

Hardiness varies with the varieties; select those recommended for your growing zone.

Trumpet Vine Care

Trumpet creeper vines growth is most lavish in a rich, fertile, and well-drained soil, in a sunny situation. They are resilient, drought tolerant, and will grow in a variety of soil types.

The climbers show off best when planted on posts and old tree trunks. Plants will grow in partial shade but for the most plentiful flowers grow the vine in full sun. 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.

Trumpet Vine Pruning For Form and Flower

Some gardeners consider the trumpet creeper an invasive plant. It’s rampant plant growth allows it to spread rapidly and may become a troublesome weed.

However, hummingbird vine plants can be kept under control and maintained with proper care and pruning.

To keep these plants in good form and in bounds as well as encourage flowering, the long lateral shoots should be cut back to about two nodes before growth begins.

They flower on the current season’s growth, so severe pruning is required, but not in spring or early summer.

Spring and summer pruning removes the shoots bearing the terminal clusters of trumpet-shaped orange-and-scarlet blossoms.

Most professionals recommend cutting back to two to three buds per stem – in late winter or early spring, before new growth gets underway.

The opinion is divided on whether or not it is culturally advisable to leave the seven-inch trumpet vine seeds pods hanging from the stems, for winter interest.

Propagating The Trumpet Creeper

The trumpet creeper can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, of both green and mature wood, root-cuttings, and air-layers.

They can be propagated by stem cuttings in spring placed in a warm propagating case, or by taking cuttings of mature growth in autumn and inserting them into sandy compost or vermiculite in a frostproof frame or cool greenhouse.

Sucker growths provide a ready means of increase, and so do root cuttings.

Campsis Species and Hybrids

There are several species as well as hybrids.

The native trumpet creeper campsis radicans is the hardiest and can be grown into New England. It can climb 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.

One variety of bigonia campsis to look for and help the neighborhood attract hummingbirds and keep them well fed and happy is – Campsis radicans ‘Flamenco’ the red trumpet vine.

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 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

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