1. Home

Discuss in my forum

Trumpet Vines


Trumpet vine photo. As the picture shows, trumpet vine has orange flowers.

These orange flowers are hummingbird magnets!

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Trumpet Vines:

Plant taxonomy classifies trumpet vine plants as Campsis radicans. Another common name is "trumpet creeper" (also spelled as one word).

Plant Type:

Botanically-speaking, trumpet vines are classified as a deciduous woody vines.

Characteristics of Trumpet Vines:

These striking but problematic plants (see below) commonly bear clusters of orange, reddish-orange or salmon flowers throughout much of the summer. You can also buy cultivars with yellow flowers. Flowers are succeeded by 6-inch pods. Campsis radicans may climb a tree if given the opportunity and can reach a length of up to 40 feet. The foliage is pinnately compound (i.e., leaves are divided into multiple leaflets, and the overall appearance is feather-like).

While there's nothing bashful about the vegetative growth of this plant, blooming is another matter, as Campsis radicans may require a several-years-long establishment period before it flowers.

Planting Zones:

Indigenous to the southeastern U.S., trumpet vine plants can be grown in zones 4-9.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Trumpet Vines:

Grow in full sun to partial shade (but will bloom better in full sun). Not a fussy grower, this is an example of a plant that will grow just fine in poor-to-average soil.

Creeper vs. Climber:

Don't conclude from the alternate common name "trumpet creeper" that this plant is restricted in its growth to hugging the ground. Especially if the plant receives a little help from you (training), it will climb. The specific epithet, radicans is Latin for "growing roots" and refers to the aerial roots of trumpet vines, a feature that grants them a modest ability to scale surfaces. They share this feature with poison ivy (Rhus radicans). Trumpet vines are just one of many plants that can damage house siding if allowed to grow up a wall; others include:

Caveat for Growing Trumpet Vines:

Trumpet vines are aggressive plants and may naturalize in areas to which they are exotic, earning them the status of invasive plants. Even in their native range, these orange thugs are aggressive to the point of being a nuisance.

The plants spread by suckering underground runners, as well as from seed. The flip side of all this aggressiveness: they are useful in soil erosion prevention.

Concerns over the plants' aggressiveness extends to use around your home, garage or outdoor storage shed: The holdfasts of their aerial roots can damage siding on buildings.

Campsis radicans is also a skin irritant for some people.

Care for Trumpet Vines, Pruning:

Most care issues revolve around containing trumpet vines: They are not for low-maintenance landscaping. Grow them on a sturdy garden arbor or wooden fence. This vigorous grower does need to be contained if you don't want it spreading all over the place! Faithfully pull up any new shoots that pop up from the root system, and remove the seeds before they fall upon the earth.

Campsis radicans blooms on new growth (new wood), so many people prune it in early spring.

Wildlife Attracted by Trumpet Vines:

Birdwatchers are often tempted to plant trumpet vines because they draw hummingbirds. But other plants that attract hummingbirds are available, including some lower-maintenance plants.


I have a lot of personal experience with trumpet vines -- specifically, bad experience. My dad, a hummingbird aficionado, saw trumpet vines advertised in a nursery catalog, touting them as the ultimate "hummingbird plants." He decided to plant some. But this aggressive plant, once established, began spreading out of control; and now, decades later, I continue the on-going battle of trying to rein it in.

Browse my list of landscaping articles for information on other plants, as well as hardscape features.

Return to Vines for Shade

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Landscaping
  4. Landscape Plants
  5. Vines
  6. Trumpet Vines - Landscaping With an Orange Thug

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.