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Campsis radicans - The Trumpet Creeper

This Campsis is also known as the Humming Bird Flower, for the obvious reason that the large trumpet shaped flowers in gorgeous clusters, are ideally shaped to allow the long ‘tongue’ of the humming bird access.

The large clusters of orange to scarlet trumpet flowers are one of the main attractions of this creeping vine, but the foliage is not to be ignored either – even though deciduous. It has pinnate leaves, which sometimes leads to it being mistaken as a Wisteria when not in flower.    But the outstanding characteristic other than the showy flowers and attractive foliage is its passion for growth and vigour.  Ignore its rapid growth and you could end up with problems.

Campsis radicans is a fully hardy deciduous woody-stemmed climbing plant that will soon devour large areas of space – especially if the space is sunlit! However, as a woodland plant it will also grow well, though flower will not be quite so plentiful as when grown in full sun, or at least having access to sun.

Aerial Roots System.

Campsis radicans over wallThe Trumpet Vine is one of the most vigorous of all climbing plants with the added advantage of being self clinging by way of the aerial roots along the stem that will clutch at any surface almost as soon as contact is made. The aerial roots will help it to clamber many metres up a wall surface once it has established itself. I have had one 10 metres high in just 3 years – grown in a large container. There were concerns as soon as it got to eaves height at the roof of the house.

It is just as happy wandering atop a sturdy fence or garden wall. Trellis if provided, needs to be robust, for the woody stems will soon increase to 2in (5cm) diameter.

The natural habitat of Campsis – open woodland areas – gives clues as to its suitability to grow up through trees. It is particularly suited to sparse foliage trees such as the Betula (Birch) group, and once established, will fare well without additional watering.

General care of Campsis

Trumpet Creeper can be planted in any soil that is free-draining. It does not tolerate being waterlogged. It does well in a large container, so ideal if you want a patio climber but do not want to break out a hole for the roots. Rarely needs watering in dry periods.

It is self clinging once established, so well suited to walls without the need for trellis or wire support.

It prefers a sheltered position – especially in exposed and colder areas. Here they would be best against a sunny wall, or sheltered by tree growth.

Problems of Campsis

The foliage is sometimes affected by powdery mildew, together with which it can be affected with scale insect.

Propagation of Campsis radicans

Can be propagated with leaf-bud cuttings, or better as semi-ripe cuttings in summer.

Root cuttings are also a possibility in the early winter months.

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