Robust. Aggressive. Rampant. Invasive. Those words are often used to describe trumpet vine. But you’ll also hear “gorgeous,” “showstopper,” “breathtaking,” and “indispensable.”
And therein lies the problem with a beautiful plant that demands a close watch. There are lots of them.
Native to the Southeast, trumpet vine (Campis radicans) is a large, vigorous deciduous vine prized for its showy trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in varying shades of red, orange or yellow. This woody plant is so aggressive it’s considered invasive in some regions. As its beautiful flowers fade, they produce large seed pods which, as they dry and split, drop hundreds of seeds, sending up suckers. As summer days heat up, the vine puts out large numbers of tendrils that reach for anything in sight and will grow into thick woody vines within no time.
For that reason, be sure to give this vine substantial support, such as a strong wooden arbor. Never plant it near a house or other building – unless, of course, you don’t mind it being swallowed up.
Trumpet vine adapts to almost any soil, except heavy and wet ones, and is drought-tolerant. Because it blooms on new wood, prune it in the spring after flowering, and it may require a heavy (as in brutal) pruning every couple of years. If you’re really concerned about its invasiveness, consider the variety ‘Madame Galen’ which is a little less hardy and grows slower than most others.
For all its disadvantages, trumpet vine – also known as “cow itch vine” and “hummingbird vine” – is one popular perennial. One side benefit is that its brightly colored blooms attract hummingbirds, and many birds love to nest in its dense dark green foliage.
Just whatever you do, keep an eye on it!