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Trumpet vine can become invasive

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

Q: I have a trumpet vine, and this is its second year. Some of the vines are thick, and some are thin. Should I cut it back this winter? It has yet to flower.

A: Trumpet vine ( Campsis radicans), also known as trumpet creeper or hummingbird vine, is a woody, perennial vine that produces long, tubular red, orange or yellow flowers favored by hummingbirds. It is a very aggressive grower that can quickly outgrow a trellis or arbor and, because it produces tiny rootlets on its stems, the vine can readily cling to and climb up into trees and even cover houses.

Trumpet creeper is a native of the Eastern and south central United States, and it can grow 30 to 40 feet tall. It has an incredible tendency to become invasive and is listed as an invasive weed in several states. I don't often suggest planting this vine because of its over-rowdy growth habit and its tendency to generate a lot of seed. Plus, it is a real bear to remove should you ever decide you don't want it anymore.

The flowers are indeed very lovely and they do attract and support hummingbirds. However, it can take five to eight years to even see any of those flowers. This plant definitely needs to reach a certain level of maturity in order to produce blooms.

Trumpet vine can be pruned at any time of the year, and don't be afraid to be assertive with it, especially as the plant matures. These vines bloom on new growth, so much like a grape vine that you can remove up to three-quarters of last year's growth each spring. Then, throughout the rest of the growing season, prune off any tendrils that wander off the trellis. Trumpet vine has a tendency to produce lots of suckers at ground level. These should be regularly removed as well to help keep the vine in check.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to tribliving@tribweb.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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