Growing And Flowering The Trumpet Vine - Friend Or Foe?
Trumpet vine or campsis radicans is one of those thug-like vines that
will grow almost anywhere and are touted as the answer to a gardening
maiden's prayer in all the low-end plant catalogs. Here's the truth.
How Big and Fast?
The truth, as in many things, is somewhere between "plant thug" and the
"garden answer for this millennium."
To begin with, the vine is aggressive and can reach thirty to forty
feet, climbing and scrambling over any obstacle. It never met a trellis
it didn't like and it will cover a screen or trellis very quickly.
When planting it, jump back quickly as it has been known to break gardener's
ankles in its zeal to find growing space. It self sows and you'll
quickly have little trumpet vines (I wonder if the babies are called
"coronet" vines?) popping up. (Yes, those pods where the flowers were
are seed pods.)
It is hardy down into zone 3 and heat tolerant up to a zone 9
The flowers are attractive with a rich orange and scarlet-red
combination and shaped like little trumpets.
They are between 2 to 3
inches long, and 1 to 2 inches wide. When this plant is in bloom, it
can be quite stunning.
This is seldom a problem as it self-sows all over your garden and can become a weed.
But it's easily grown from seed or from cuttings
Tolerates almost any kind of soil except heavy clay and damp feet.
Orange Trumpet Vine - once established, it's hard to eliminate
Pruning The Trumpet Vine
You have to prune it heavily to keep it in bounds. And do not worry
about whether you are pruning it properly or not. It grows back so
quickly, you'll have to wonder if you did it at all. Some people (never
myself you understand) say that the proper way to prune this plant is
with a chainsaw.
Prune in very early spring or in fall.
'Flava' is a cultivar with yellow flowers with shades of orange. I
actually like growing this plant better than the species. But then
again, I like yellow flowers and am not fussy about orange.
'Praecox' is one you'll sometime see and the flowers on this cultivar
are mostly red with fewer orange tones.
Problem Solving and Things to Know
As one gardening wag put it, "If you can't grow trumpet vine in a
normal garden soil, you should try silk."
But sometimes it can be a perverse little thing. The ads all say it
will bloom quickly but sometimes it doesn't.
It is one of the last plants to leaf out in the spring.
You'll think it
is dead every year. Have patience - this is one tough plant and it
might take until the end of May or even sometimes in to June to leaf
out in a zone 4 garden.
You might be overfeeding it - if you're getting lush growth and no
blooms, stop feeding anything but compost. Or applying herbicide nearby
- weed n feed is a perfect example of this - a vine too close to a lawn
gets overfed with the nitrogen for the lawn and a dose of herbicide.
Not growing at all after its second spring? (ignore it if it doesn't grow first year and only do this in year two)
If the plant is not growing at all - you likely have a soil problem.
Add lots of home made compost as a mulch. Make compost tea and apply
it. Mushroom compost has too much salt so don't use this as a mulch.
Composted manure in bags is an acceptable substitute.
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Slow starter with growing
I've seen this plant take three to four years to establish itself (put
down roots) before it starts to bloom. So, if you're not overfeeding
then you really do have to have patience.
As long as the trumpet vine is growing well, it will eventually flower.
It is a weedy thing
But it has a high potential to become a weed in warmer climates in good
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