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Saturday - October 20, 2012

From: Worcester, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Diseases and Disorders, Vines
Title: Problems with recently planted trumpet vine from Worcester MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about my recently planted Trumpet Vines. First of all, I live in Massachusetts, zone 6. The soil is perfect for the two vines, which I bought from a local nursery. The vines are small in size, the biggest being 13 inches tall, the smallest under 6 inches. Here is how I planted them. I planted them next to a fence with a metal rod leading up the fence. However, the smallest one is too small to cling to anything, which I think might be one of the problems. I don't know what do you think? By the way on top of the soil is quartz rocks, don't know if that is a problem as well? Water seems to get through easily enough. I have even tried sugar water because I hear that helps with transplant shock, but it's been a week and a half and the leaves on the plants are falling off fast. The biggest one had black leaves the third day we planted it. The small one is just showing signs of failure. We have had plenty of rain too. There has been no frost yet. The plants receive a good amount of sunlight. I forgot to mention that I planted them next to my patio. So here is my real question. Why are my plants dying on me so fast? What can I do to save them before the first frost, which is typically in early October? If you have a any other suggestions that would be great. An email would be the best. I am really concerned right now. Thank you.


First, we would like to apologize for the delay in replying to your question. It apparently went to some other portion of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website, sat in an Inbox for several days and then finally made it to the Mr. Smarty Plants question page. In future, you will get faster service (hopefully) if you start with the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page. Or you can access Mr. Smarty Plants from the wildflower.org home page.

Having said all that, we are not sure we can help you. Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) is definitely native to Worcester Co., MA, as you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map. We try to check on this first thing, because if you wish to plant, for instance, a distinctly tropical or sub-tropical plant in a cold northern area, it probably is not going to work, and sometimes that gives us our answer quickly. However, that is obviously not the case in this situation.

Please follow this plant link ,Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) to our webpage on this plant which will tell you everything we know about this plant. You were probably on the right track when you identified the problem as transplant shock, but that may have already been happening before you ever purchased it from the nursery. If it was a leftover at the end of the season, it may already have been suffering from one of several problems, including poor drainage, which would cause the roots to rot, or the wrong soil in the nursery pot, or lack of sunlight while it waited in the nursery. This generally is a very healthy, easy-to-grow plant to the point of being invasive, especially in the Southeast. In Massachusetts, it will definitely be deciduous and by now be already dormant.

So, the next question is: what next? Without knowing which, if any, of our suggestions might be the reason for the deterioration of the plant, we can suggest that you trim it back, leaving enough stem that you can find it again in the Spring. It is very cold tolerant, so we don't think you need worry about cold while the plant is dormant.

Or, after you read some of the 64 negative comments on trumpet creeper on this Dave's Garden forum site, you might count yourself very lucky if the stuff dies. In the future, we would suggest planting perennials in the season opposite to the blooming season for that plant, in this case, July to September, which would mean planting as soon as the soil warms up in the early Spring.


From the Image Gallery

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

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