In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
July, 2006
Regional Report

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This trumpet vine covering an old lamp post creates a stunning effect in the front yard.

Hummingbird Vine

During the heat of summer it's a good time to consider how landscape plants can help cool your outdoor living areas. One of my favorite groups of plants for helping to make relaxing outdoors cooler and more private is vines. They are often underused in the landscape, yet there are many ways to utilize vines for a bold effect as well as for screening and cooling.

Take, for example, one of the hardiest of vines (and sometimes very aggressive in its growth rate): the hummingbird vine or trumpet vine. You may have spotted the common trumpet vine growing up telephone poles with its bright orange-scarlet flowers. These blossoms highlight the landscape in summer when other vines have finished flowering. Better yet, they are a magnet for hummingbirds and sphinx moths.

Hummingbird vine grows quickly and will climb and anchor itself to trellises, poles, and flat surfaces by aerial rootlets called "holdfasts." The pinnately compound leaves are glossy green and provide a nice background or screen. In the late summer or early fall, this vine may produce 3-inch-long spindle-shaped seed capsules that contain many winged seeds. If killed to the ground by a hard winter, it will readily send up new shoots in spring.

Planting
The sunniest locations suit the trumpet vine best. Full sun will promote growth and flowering well into early fall. Dig the planting hole two to three times wider than the rootball. Soil should be well-drained and can be amended with compost to improve soil porosity and drainage. Add approximately 30 percent by volume of a quality compost to the soil removed from the planting hole.

If the roots are crowded in the container, gently unwind the longest roots and spread into the planting hole. Add backfill soil around the roots about halfway, and water in slowly to eliminate any air pockets underneath the roots. After the water has soaked in, add the remaining backfill soil to complete the planting, and water again. Mulch with additional compost or shredded cedar shavings. This will help to maintain even moisture while the vine gets established. Water when the soil is dry 4 to 6 inches deep. It's best to have some vine supports in place before planting.

Care and Maintenance
Once established, trumpet vine takes little care except for occasional pruning to keep it in bounds. Flowers appear on new growth each year. It seldom needs fertilizer, which tends to promote leafy growth, not flowers. Remove the seedpods to curb its spread.


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