Past Articles Library | How to Grow and Propagate Trumpet Creeper
Trumpet Creeper is one of those plants that you either love it or you do not. If you do not, it can be a big problem. On the other hand, if you love flowers that attract hummingbirds then this is the plant for you. It almost seems that the hummingbird and trumpet creeper have a Shakespearian relationship by which the color and flower shape beacon a long lost love of nectar and pollination.
In the summer and fall, this plant produces tubular blooms that can range in color from yellow to orange and red. Once the flowers are spent, they produce beautiful seedpods that add winter interest.
When planting the trumpet creeper do not worry about soil type. This plant is very flexible in its soil requirement but one requirement that it is not flexible about is sunlight. While this plant will grow in the shade, it will bloom less and the plant will grow quicker or spindly. If you desire a bushy trumpet creeper that is full of blooms, only plant in full sun.
Once you have your location picked out, check to see how close your planned location is to outbuilding, garden walls, neighbor, and trees. Each one of these can create its own challenge. Outbuildings, and garden walls can be support for the trumpet creeper, they can also be damaged by this vine. Neighbors can be another issue. While you may love your trumpet creeper, your neighbor may not. This plant is invasive and can spread by suckers, and seeds. If you plan to plant this vine near your property line, make sure to talk to your neighbor and make sure they are fine with your vine creeping into their yard.
Lastly, do not plant this vine near trees. While a tree can be turned into an instant trellis, the process of this vine growing up the tree will strangle the plant.
Once you have your location selected, it is time to plant your trumpet creeper. As stated before, this plant is very flexible and survives a lot of torture. When you get your plant home, dig a hole that is the same depth as the container and twice the width. Once the hole has been dug, remove the plant from its container by tipping it upside down, tapping and squeezing on the bottom. If done correctly, the plant should just fall out. If this does not happen, repeat the process. On the other hand, if you do not care about the container, just cut slits down the side and remove plant.
Once the plant has been removed, you can simply place it in the hole and fill in. But due to the fact that this plant is very invasive, I would not recommend just planting the trumpet creeper in the hole. Instead, take a bucket and cut the bottom out. Place this bucket in the hole so that the top of the bucket is at the same level as the soil. Fill in around the bucket to keep it in place and then place the plant inside the container. This will keep the plant from growing outward due to its suckers.
If you create the barrier, you can plan on digging up and dividing or upsizing your container about every two years.
Once you have your trumpet creeper planted, add your support. This can be either a trellis, a fence or a simple pole.
Now that you have your vine planted, you will need to prune it. This is very important since this plant can grow 30 to 40 feet in a season. This pruning should occur in the early spring or fall. When pruning, take this vine down several inches to feet.
If you do not want to bother with a support, consider growing the trumpet creeper as a shrub. But growth habit can only be created with severe pruning in the spring and periodic pruning during the growing season.
After the plant has become established, you may water as needed but do not fertilize. This later treatment will cause the plant to explode in growth, which may or may not be something that you want.
To encourage the plant to bloom more, you will need to remove the spent flower or deadhead it. This is simply done by removing the stem and spent flower from plant by pinching it off. Dispose of this plant material in your compost. While this keeps the plant looking tidy it will also prevent the plant from producing seedpods, which would reduce the spreading of this plant.
How to Propagate the Trumpet Creeper
While the trumpet creeper easily spreads through seed and suckers, you can control this growth by harvesting the seeds and mowing down the suckers. But what can you do if you want to share your plant material? Well, you can propagate through seed, cutting, layering, root or sucker.
Propagating this plant through seed is easy and the best part is that this seed can be stored for later use. To begin this process, one will need to collect the seed. How is this done? Well, start this process in the fall and only pick seedpods that have turned brown and have begin to open. Next, open the seedpods and allow the seeds to dry. Once dried, plant the seeds directly into the ground to a depth of ¼ to ½ inch or plant into a container that has been sterilized. While the seeds will not germinate in fall, the cold exposure will prepare them for next spring.
If you do not want to plant now, do not worry. Simply place seeds in a labeled paper envelope and store in the fridge.
Cuttings can be taken any time during the summer months. To do this, select a healthy branch and cut off the branch at an angle. There is no set rule on the length for this plant but make sure it is long enough to get into a pot. Once you have your cutting, remove the lower leaves and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone and then push the cut end into a pot of well-drained soil. Water in and place in a shady location.
In a month or so, the cutting should be rooted. Prior to removing the cutting though, check to make sure it has rooted. This is easily done by gently pulling on the cutting. If you feel resistance then the cutting has rooted. On the other hand, if you do not feel a little tug, continue to care for the cutting for another month or so and then check.
Once the cutting has rooted, transplant into the garden space.
Layering is anther technique that one can use to get a start from an existing trumpet creeper. To do this, select a healthy branch that is long enough to bend and touch the ground while having some on the other end. Once you have this branch selected, do a trial run of the bend and nick where the branch will touch the ground. Remove the leaves around the bend. Next, bend the branch down, cover the nicked area with soil, and secure to the ground with a wire or stone. If you use something with weight, make sure that it is not so heavy that it crushes the stem.
Water in and wait. Even if your layering has rooted, keep it attached to the mother plant until the next spring. This will create a stronger plant once removed.
When it is time to sever the layered plant, cut it off at either the location where the rooting has occurred or just cut off the whole branch from the mother plant.
To do this, one will need to remove three to four inches of root in the late winter or very early spring. Once the root has been dug up, plant slightly below the soil surface and keep moist. In a few months, you will begin to see growth popping up through the soil surface.
Propagating this plant through a sucker consists of simply digging up the sucker and replanting it. This is done as if you were planting a new plant, as described previously.
Now that you want how to grow it, learn how to remove it.