Hot Vine for Summer

You'll get plenty of blooms, even when the temperature soars.
Rebecca Bull Reed

If patience is not your virtue, you need to plant Chinese trumpet creeper (Campsis grandiflora). Guaranteed to provide shade in one season, this quick-growing vine is great for those who wish they had started yesterday. Plus, its flowers attract hummingbirds.

Eager To Please
Tough and heat tolerant, Chinese trumpet creeper is not as vigorous as its native relative, common trumpet creeper (C. radicans). More reserved in nature, it actually makes the better garden guest, with big trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of orange, red, and peach from now until fall. Under ideal conditions, it will grow to about 30 feet in length--perfect for covering an arbor or softening a stark privacy fence.

Social Climber
Each leaf of this vine is actually made up of smaller medium-green, glossy leaflets. Together, they have a coarse texture, making this vine great for screening. Though Chinese trumpet creeper climbs with the aid of aerial rootlets, they are less abundant and aggressive than those of its common cousin. For best results, provide additional support by tying the vine to a structure with stretch string, twine, or coated wire.

Cut and Come Again
For those who love to prune, this vine is very forgiving and even thrives when given a good whacking back. To control the size and stimulate flowers, which appear on new stems, cut back hard in early spring. Wear long sleeves and gloves, because the flowers and leaves of this plant can irritate the skin. Occasional summer trimmings are okay, but it is less likely to repeat bloom than common trumpet creeper. Thriving in both alkaline and acid soil and dry or moist conditions, the vine requires only a little sun. If more plants were this easy to grow, a lot of garden writers would be out of a job.

Chinese Trumpet Creeper
At a Glance
Size: grows up to 30 feet
Light: full sun to partial shade
Soil: any
Water: moderate to regular, tolerates drought
Range: Upper, Middle, Lower, and Coastal South
Selection to try: 'Morning Calm'
Sources: Purchase this plant from Brushwood Nursery, www.gardenvines.com, or Lazy S'S Farm Nursery, www.lazyssfarm.com.

"Hot Vine for Summer" is from the July 2007 issue of Southern Living.