How To Identify, Grow, And Care For Trumpet Vines (Campsis Radicans)

The trumpet vine is a fantastic flowering plant that attracts plenty of attention from both people and wildlife, thanks to its trumpet-shaped blooms in bright colors.

It’s a good way to encourage more pollinators to visit your garden, which will benefit the health of all the plants within it.

This plant is perfect for climbing up fences, sides of your property, gates, and more. But exactly how is it to care for? Is it right for your garden?

Let’s take a look.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About The Trumpet Vine

The trumpet plant comes from eastern parts of North America, and while they love tropical regions, they have naturalized in many areas and will survive as a perennial in USDA zones 4 through 9.

The trumpet plant has a very vigorous growth habit, and it’s not unusual for it to reach 35 feet long by 10 feet wide, anchoring itself to whatever it can, so you do have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t take over any areas you don’t want it to.

The foliage has serrated leaves, in an emerald deep green. They grow in pairs on opposite sides of the stem.

These contrast well against the flowers, which come in brilliant red, orange, and yellow. It’s unable to self-pollinate, so it relies on pollinators, which it attracts in droves. 

These plants bloom in summer, and the flowers are followed by green seed pods, which can get as long as 6 inches.

There are many names you might know this plant by, including the devil’s shoestring, trumpet creeper, cow vine, hell vine, the hummingbird vine, foxglove vine, and cow itch vine. 

As you might imagine from the names above, it can cause some problems if you are not careful with this plant. 

A woody vine, this plant isn’t particularly hard to care for, but there is a tradeoff. If you let it run rampant in your garden, it can pull down the supports it grows against, and choke out the plants around it, so you do need to keep an eye on it.

How To Grow Campsis Radicans

Sunlight And Position

The trumpet vine loves full sunlight, as this allows the plant to produce as many flowers as possible with extra energy. It will survive in some shade, but you won’t see as many blooms.

It’s worth noting that the trumpet vine can survive in both damp and dry conditions. While it will go without some water for a while, it does need the occasional irrigation to support its growth.

Soil Needs

Campsis radicans require neutral to acidic soil to thrive, and soil with plenty of drainage. Otherwise, it’s not too picky about the soil type and will survive in limestone, clay, sandy, or sandy loam soil without a problem. 

Temperature Needs

A fairly hardy plant, the trumpet vine needs temperatures to stay between 50°F and 82°F to thrive. Anything above or below is too much for the plant to cope with, though extremes can be a little damaging.

Should You Feed A Trumpet Vine?

No. The growth habit of the trumpet vine is vigorous enough without adding to it! It will get plenty of what it needs, and more, from the soil already.

How And When To Prune A Trumpet Vine

As the trumpet vine is such a prolific plant, it’s necessary to prune it during fall or the first few weeks of spring to stop it from getting out of control. 

You can be quite harsh with the plant, leaving only a few buds on the plant, and this will keep on top of its growth.

Another way of managing the plant is to deadhead any spent flowers to stop the seed pods from forming and prevent new trumpet vines in your garden. It also keeps the plant looking tidy.

If this seems like too much work, it’s important to pick a different plant, as you don’t want this plant to get out of hand.

How To Propagate A Trumpet Vine

If you do want more than one trumpet vine, it’s very easy to propagate them. You can either do this by collecting the seeds or taking root cuttings and cuttings from semi-hardwood stems.

Collecting Seeds From A Trumpet Vine

If you want to create new trumpet vines from sowing seeds, you’ll want to take the seed pods off the plant just as they start to dry. 

This is because you may not catch the completely-dried seed pods before they burst open. Once you’ve taken the seed pods from the plant, air-dry them, and store the seeds in a paper bag in a dry, cool environment until the next sowing season.

It’s worth noting that collecting and then sowing some seeds does not always produce plants that are true to type, so you may want to propagate existing stems or cuttings, for an exact copy of the parent plant.

How To Get The Best Out Of A Trumpet Vine In Your Garden

Trumpet vines need support to thrive, but they also help screen any ugly fences or walls, acting as a beautiful privacy barrier.

Train it to grow up your desired structure, but make sure it cannot get its way into any mortar, or neighboring gardens. 

Prune it regularly in fall or spring to keep on top of the growth, and provide more air circulation around the plant, and it will thrive.

A Note On Toxicity

The trumpet vine can be dangerous if not handled properly. Always wear gloves when handling, deadheading, or pruning the plant, as it can cause contact dermatitis.

Trumpet Vine Varieties To Consider

There are many cultivars of the trumpet vine to consider, and some have a less vigorous growth habit than others.

Campsis radicans ‘Indian Summer’

One of the more compact varieties which is easier to manage is ‘Indian Summer’, producing fantastic flowers in shades of red and yellowy orange.

Campsis radicans ‘Flamenco’

This variety produces deep green leaves and red and orange flowers, which bloom from summer well into fall if the weather allows.

Other Things To Think About

Is A Trumpet Vine Safe For Gardens With Pets Or Children?

Other plants are a safer option. As this plant causes contact dermatitis, it’s not a stretch to imagine that it’s dangerous if ingested.

Reported symptoms of ingesting this plant can include numbness, stomach upsets, and dilated pupils, so pick a different plant if you have pets or children, as it’s not worth the risk. 

Is A Trumpet Vine Invasive?

Trumpet vines are extremely vigorous plants, able to pull down any structure it climbs on if it gets too heavy. 

If you decide to grow it outside its native range, this can be quite dangerous to the environment, so choose a different plant if it’s not native to your area.

When Does A Trumpet Vine Start To Flower?

Trumpet vines grow quickly, but it’s worth noting that they won’t flower until the plant is mature at two or three years old.

Final Thoughts

Trumpet vines are gorgeous plants that will fill any space quickly, but you do have to be careful that they don’t take over your garden, or escape to the surrounding area.

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