En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 28, 2011

From: Elkins, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Vines
Title: Failure to bloom of Campsis radicans in Elkins WV
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We live in a very cool climate of West Virginia, in the mountains, and it seems impossible for our Campsis radicans vines to flower! Perhaps the growing season is too short? We can have frost in early June, and then again in late September. Or do they flower only after several years of growth? We have had them since 2005. What can I do to encourage them to flower? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Go first to our webpage on Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) to find out the particulars on the plant. It is usually considered almost invasive and can be a skin irritant, but it does attract the hummingbirds, and for that you need flowers. According to this USDA Plant Profile map of West Virginia, this plant does grow in or near Rudolph County, so your soils are probably not the problem. Although, as you say, you live in a mountainous area, the elevation of Elkins is only about 2000 ft, so that should not materially affect the blooming.

The only indication that we found on our webpage that we thought might be a clue is that this native plant is frequently crossed with Asian species Campsis grandiflora, which is less hardy than native species. Apparently, the results of this cross yield larger blossoms, but if you have a late or early freeze, the lack of hardiness could retard the blooming. The native plant, Trumpet Creeper, grows as far north as Ontario so if you have the native, the blooming should be normal. Frequently, nurseries will sell hybrids of this sort because the blooms are much showier.

It appears that Randolph County is in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b, and the Trumpet Creeper is hardy from Zone 4a to 10b. You might be interested in reading the Dave's Garden Forum on this plant, there are a lot of negative comments. Maybe the plant is doing you a favor by sulking and not blooming.

Just one more possibility we can think of for the non-blooming: This plant really doesn't need fertilizer, and even if you have not fertilized it but have put down lawn fertilizer or fertilized the flower beds with a high nitrogen content fertilizer, that can retard blooms. You get really good leaves from high nitrogen fertilizers, that's why it's used for lawns, but so much energy goes into making those leaves that a lot of plants don't have enough left to make blooms, too.

 

From the Image Gallery


Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

More Vines Questions

Non-native pothos ivy from Houston
May 30, 2013 - My pothos devils ivy is about 5 years old and grows outside. A couple of years ago its leaves became spectacularly large, like 12" wide and its stalk about 1 - 2" wide. A couple of years ago i gui...
view the full question and answer

Native vine to cover chain link fence in Massachusetts
March 21, 2008 - I have a chain link fence I don't want to bother taking down, any suggestions on a clinging vine that will rapidly attach itself to the links and eventually cover it with a green "blanket"? thanks
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive Asiatic Jasmine from Austin
October 25, 2012 - Is Trachelospermum asiaticum considered a native texas plant? Is there an example growing at the Center that can be viewed?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on pruning Clematis
August 26, 2005 - I would like to know about pruning clematis. The one I have is getting very large. Should I cut it back, and if so, in the Spring or Fall? I live in Michigan. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plant to hang over and cover a wall
May 21, 2010 - HI! this is a stumper for me! I have a 6 foot wall bracing a hill on one side and a lawn on the other. It is currently cement and I would like to find something to cover it --evergreen would be the...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center