Trumpet Vine – Care and Prevention Tips for Growing Trumpet Vines

growing trumpet vine - trumpets in a hedge
Early Spring Indications

The Trumpet Vine … Pernicious or Pulchritudinous?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one person’s blight is another’s delight. The Trumpet Vine is a free-spirited beauty of the modern garden.

Like its namesake, comfortable in styles from Jazz to Classical this vine will grow almost anywhere in even the poorest of soil. If a Trumpet Vine has chosen your garden the best advice is to accept it. If you attempt to rid yourself of it you’re in for a fight. This vine had only one bloom on it last year and was dutifully pruned in an act of blatant cruelty.

The reward arrived this Spring as you see here: 

trumpet vine
trumpet vine photo - close-up

This year’s approach will be to kill them with kindness. Trumpet Vines thrive in poor soil so this year we’ll fertilize and water them to death. 

The particular cultivar of campsis radicans we’re dealing with here is the rare conspuere valvae. This variety is easily identified by the distinctive water key on one or two of the bends after the blossom.  These can be removed by force or with a soldering iron rendering the adjacent blossom sterile. The plant can survive, even thrive by sending up suckers from its roots despite treatment of each blossom.

Resistance is futile.

You’re better off to embrace the plant and attempt to confine it to the brass section of your garden (see photo below). 

brass quintet garden
Gardeners tour invasive trumpet vine cultivars in Zone 6

Trumpet Vine Cultivars in the Garden

This poor garden has a brass infestation and really should be abandoned. Once a brass quintet has established itself there’s nothing to be done. 

It is possible to reclaim a newly infected garden if you nip the low brass in the bud. Don’t let a trombone slide itself into any section if you can help it. A good beating with a ball peen hammer should discourage most specimens. Some trombones have a trigger assembly that can be difficult but nothing a little concrete and a moderate sized plate compactor can’t handle. 

Trombones with valves where the slide should be (cultivar Juanis Tizoli) are the cross-bred mules of the brass and should be considered bastard trumpets, bastard trombones or just bastards. If they appear in your garden simply throw some sharp keys at them and they’ll disappear. 

caring for your trumpet vine - trumpet vine care

Caring for your Trumpet Vine

If your goal is to grow a Trumpet Vine you’d be well-advised to plant it in a generous but sealed container or its roots, shoots and seeds will take over like a tenor sax in a string orchestra. Don’t give them any encouragement like fertilizer or water beyond what’s absolutely necessary.

In short, treat them the way management would treat their workers if they could get away with it.

Oops. Too much?

More about different types of trumpets

More trumpet jokes here


Jim is an orchestral Trumpet player and retired high school Music teacher.

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