Many gardeners struggle with the idea of planting vines, envisioning uncontrolled jungle-like growth covering their home, shrubs, trees and other structures. However, if planted in the right place and routinely maintained, several native flowering vines can make valuable contributions to the color, texture and structure of the garden. This is particularly true of Trumpet Vine (campsis radicans).
Trumpet Vine, also known as Trumpet Creeper, is a deciduous, woody vine native to South Carolina and the rest of the southeast. It flowers on new growth with three inch, trumpet-like, bright orange to red blooms from summer into the fall. Pure yellow (‘Flava’), apricot (‘Apricot’) and pure red (‘Crimson’) cultivars are also available at many nurseries. The blooms develop into attractive bean-like seed pods, but the yellow-green leaves in the fall are not distinctive.
Trumpet Vine grows vigorously in all Seabrook Island soils, preferring full sun but still blooming modestly in part sun. It is drought tolerant and somewhat deer tolerant. Even then, it is such a fast and vigorous grower that, like several other plants, its growth will out pace the height of the deer’s browsing range. It can ultimately reach a height of 20-30 feet, depending on the structure supporting it. It should never be planted on the house or other structures, but rather planted “out there” where the vivid blooms can be enjoyed from the living area. I have trellised it up pine tree trunks and have seen it grow naturally upon wax myrtle such as this picture taken on Nancy Island Drive.
The pruning and sucker maintenance required by Trumpet Vine is well worth the effort. Not only does it display vividly colored blooms for an extended period of time, it is also an excellent source of nectar for Humming Birds.
—Submitted by Don Smith