Trumpets for a Garden Symphony

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Trumpets play high brassy and brilliant notes through about 4 ½ feet of tubing. From Greek and Roman military marches to European royalty celebrations to modern jazz,  trumpets are known for fanfare, prestige, and flare. Trumpets fit right into the floral symphony of a beautiful garden with many different kinds to choose from. From Angel’s Trumpet to Trumpet vine to Trumpet Creeper Vine, and many other tubular-shaped flowers, there is much to love and some to be wary of.

Crimson Trumpet1 ‘Crimson Trumpet’ Flower by Jim Robbins CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Trumpet creeper vine (Campsis radicans) often gets confused with Trumpet Vine (Campsis grandiflora). You will want to know the difference. Hint:  Trumpet Creeper Vine also carries the common names of Devil’s Shoestring, Cow-itch, and Hellvine to name a few. A very common plant that is native to the southeastern US it can be found in swamps, forests, and thickets and has naturalized its way into many northern states too. This plant boasts stunning orange-red trumpet flowers in the summer from dense, multi-stemmed, woody, clinging vines. These vines latch onto structures and trees, climbing up by aerial rootlets while also spreading out by prodigious underground runners as well as seeding themselves around. While the leaves will grow well in shade, the blooms need the sun.

If you like to have hummingbirds visit your garden, can supply a strong arbor or trellis support for the vine and stay after pruning its advance (and mowing over the suckers and unwanted sprouts) then this vine’s rapid growth makes training it easy. If you decide to try it, select a site that isn’t right next to the house because it can force its way between wooden house siding and destroy it. This plant also has an extreme flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home.

The other Trumpet vines (Campsis grandiflora) and (Campsis x tagliabuana) aren’t such garden bullies. With less robust aerial roots, these deciduous climbing vines sport large, deep orange to red flowers, July to frost. Look for them to be soil and salt tolerant with a fast growth rate and no serious pest-disease problems.

To read more about the Trumpet Creeper Vine and its relatives take a look at the NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox information found here:  Campsis Radicans. While you’re there, check out some of the over 4000 species cataloged in the database for plants that may work well under your site’s conditions.

Minda Daughtry is the Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.