Articles - Clematis - Źródło Dobrych Pnączy


Trumpet Creeper - Campsis radicans

If you look for a robust, summer-flowering climber to plant in a sunny spot, Trumpet creeper is definitely worth your interest. Campsis radicans belongs to Bignoniaceae family. It is native to Northern America and was brought to Europe in 17th century.

Szczepan Marczyński 

It's very vigorous in habit and attains a height of 6-10 m. It climbs by means of aerial roots and slightly windy stems.

Young shoots are green and turn pale brown when they get woody. Stems that are more than one year old are covered with pale brown, peeling bark. Old specimens can have even as much as over a dozen centimeters in diameter at the base.

Trumpet creepers start late its growing season in spring, which works to their advantage as it reduces the risk of damage caused by frost. At the end of May they start growing very vigorously to form a thick greenery in early July. Leaves are opposite, pinnately compound, and reach up to 40 cm in length.

They are composed of 7-11 coarsely toothed leaflets, 3-10 cm long. Leaves are green in spring and summer and they turn yellow and fall in autumn.

Trumpet-shaped, orange, red or yellow (depending on a variety) flowers are the main attraction of the plant. They reach 6-10 cm in length and 3-5 cm in diameter. The flowers bloom in July to September in clusters of 4-12 blossoms at the end of this year's growth.The fruits are long (10-20 cm) pods, which split open when ripe releasing winged seed. Since the fruits are not very attractive it's best to remove them as soon as they are set. This will also enhance longer and more prolific flowering- till the end of autumn. In the USA trumpet creeper is recommended to all hummingbird lovers, as these small birds are fond of its nectar and will fly in to the plant from the entire region.

Trumpet creeper is quite undemanding when it comes to soil conditions but it requires a lot of heat and light. It grows and flowers best in full sun and in well drained soil that is moderately rich and neutral to slightly alkaline (pH 5,5-7,5). Once it's taken root and a strong base is formed, it will tolerate the drying up of the soil and a temporary increase in the salinity and humidity of the soil. When propagated vegetatively, Campsiswill start blooming in the second-third year after planting. In the case of the plants grown from seeds, you will have to wait longer for the first flowers - even 5 to 8 years.

The stems can freeze during harsh winters, but in spring new shoots sprout from the base of the plant, and quickly cover the supports. I've seen flowering specimens of trumpet creeper even in Suwalki region, which is the polish cold pole.

Trumpet creepersare best suited for wall covering, but you can also grow them over a fence, a pergola, an arbor or any other kind of support. It may also climb up a tree trunk as long as it is in full sun. It will bloom very abundantly, when grown over a small building and over a roof that faces south, as roofs store up well the solar heat.

Campsis radicans can also be used in a sunny area of public greenery. It may be used to mask unsightly constructions, creating screens, covering piles of stones or concrete constructions or even for rehabilitation.

During the first two years after planting it's good to provide a support and protect the base in winter against the cold until the plant has spread out and strengthened. After planting, all shoots should be cut at about 15 cm from the ground to encourage branching. Train the new, strong shoots to the sides and tie to the wiring or poles so that they cover the desired space. Weak shoots should be removed. After creating a robust frame of the plant, every year you have to trim young shoots above the 2nd-3rd node (a pair of buds) over the leading shoot. Side shoots that are weak or damaged should be either removed or only one bud should be left. Basic pruning is best carried out in spring - late March or early April. In summer, if necessary, you should thin out all the excessive growth.
Hard pruning that hinders growth, encourages flowering and after a few years of such pruning you can get a flowering plant with stems so thick that they don't need a support.

Campsis radicans produces stolons, especially if it's been hard pruned or when the root system has been damaged, so you must control the spreading of the plant to the sides.

Trumpet creeper is disease and pest resistant. There are no specific diseases or pests the plant would be subject to. In certain conditions it may be prone to the powdery mildew attack (white coating on the upper side of the leaves), as well as to aphids and spiders.

All the parts of the plant are slightly toxic and its juice can cause skin irritation in people allergic to it. The pollen may also cause an allergic response.

It's best to plant denoted varieties of trumpet creeper. In this way you know what to expect. I recommend especially:

  • 'Flamenco'- a cultivar with large, intensely red flowers. Blooms in July-September
  • 'Flava'- a cultivar with yellow flowers. Less robust than the rest of the cultivars. It starts flowering 1-2 years later than the rest. Blooms in July-August
  • 'Gabor' - a cultivar with dark red flowers. It blooms abundantly and for a long time in July-September. Selected in Hungary by the professor Gabor Schmidt and named by Szczepan Marczyński.
  • 'Judy' - striking yellow flowers with an orange the inside of the trumpet. It flowers from July to September. The cultivar was selected in the USA.
  • 'Ursynów' - a cultivar with vividly orange flowers. It starts blooming already in the 1st-2nd year after planting. It flowers abundantly in July-September, has large leaves and is quite frost hardy. Selected in the Warsaw district Ursynów by Szczepan Marczyński.