2016-08-25 / From The Garden

The Blare of the Trumpet Vine

By Cynthia Gibson


The trumpet vine produces flowers that look tropical, and they can be found in a variety of colors, but mainly red. The vine’s botanical name is Campsis radicans. The trumpet vine produces flowers that look tropical, and they can be found in a variety of colors, but mainly red. The vine’s botanical name is Campsis radicans. August is the month the trumpet vine blasts its colorful flowers. Even when the strong, waxen blooms fall to the ground, they still hold their shape after many assaults by bees.

If you are a lover of hummingbirds, this is a natural bird feeder for you. Hummingbirds find the flowers on this vine wherever it is planted. It is not only a hummingbird magnet, but is a favorite of large tumbly bumble bees as well. The flowers are so sturdy, and hardly move when the bees dive right into the center of the trumpet. The leaves have a bit of toxicity as well. There is a chemical in trumpet vine leaves that can cause a rash to highly sensitive skin; thus the vine’s nickname, Cow Itch. On the positive side, deer do not eat it.

This is one vine that can withstand the hottest of summers and the coldest of winters. There is a proviso that goes along with planting this vine; it is aggressive and invasive. It is usually planted along a brick wall, trellis or fence. If left to its own devices it will easily climb over existing shrubbery, so prune regularly. Pot-rooted trumpet vine will take three years to flower. If you plant a seed or take a cutting, it may take up to six years before you see a flower. Its strong network of roots will invade your lawn. If new plants sprout up in my lawn, I simply mow over them. For those who are serious lawn aficionados, plant this vine far from your greensward and closer to the woods.

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