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Mr. Smarty Plants - Non-blooming of Campsis radicans, Trumpet Vine

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Friday - August 25, 2006

From: Newtown, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Vines
Title: Non-blooming of Campsis radicans, Trumpet Vine
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have a trumpet vine that does not bloom. My neighbor has the same plant and it blooms profusely. I have pruned the vine in February as was suggested on another site. It is healthy and is planted about fifty yards from my neighbor and in the same sun exposure. What can I do to get it to bloom?

ANSWER:

Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans (also known as Trumpet creeper) is a popular, though sometimes overly aggressive native vine. It typically flowers dependably, but from time to time seems to defy our best efforts to make it bloom. In fact, giving our best effort may be part of the problem.

Many vines produce flowers only when they transition from a state of vegetative growth to a "mature" state. Plants that are rapidly growing or are growing in a nutrient-rich environment simply don't make that transition. However, environmental stress often triggers the necessary physiological change and induces flowering.

An old gardening trick for such plants is to create some environmental stress that will produce the desired results. Decreasing available soil nitrogen by withholding fertilizer is often the easiest way to promote flowering, but it can take a year or more to see a change. Some gardeners root prune as a way to stress their plants into flowering. This is done by simply going around the base of the plant a couple of feet from the base of the plant and piercing the soil in a few places with a garden spade. Do not cut all of the roots this way, just make a few such cuts to sever enough of the roots to "shock" the plant out of vegetative growth and induce flowering. Withholding water is sometimes effective in areas of low rainfall or during drought.

If you try these techniques and you still get no flowering, ask your neighbor if you can get a start from her vine. Trumpet vine is easy to propagate and is fast-growing. Getting a new vine that is known to flower prolifically is sometimes a last resort.
 

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