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Growing Trumpet Vines

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Trumpet vines, or campsis radicans, fall into two categories: People either LOVE them or HATE them with a passion. Naturally, I happen to fall into the category of loving it - and they are currently beginning to bloom all over the Bluegrass. They make beautiful bouquet when placed with Queen Anne's Lace, Goldenrod and Ironweed - the color combination of white, orange, yellow and purple is gorgeous!

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Trumpet vines bloom beautifully in shades of red, orange and yellow and they are one of the favorite foods of hummingbirds. You need to be careful of where you grow Trumpet Vines because they also attract wasps and bees. They can be good for a natural garden because they provide birds with winter pods to eat and vines to roost in. It can be used as a screen for privacy, and it adapts to almost any soil and is very drought tolerant. It transplants easily and can be grown from cuttings and is hardy down to about -30F - much higher than the Zone 6 of the Bluegrass.

Blowing bubbles is a fun activity for children during the summer months. But, what if there were a lack of bubble wands to go around? Trumpet vine flowers, with the stamens pulled out, make a wonderful substitution. Pinch the hole closed and fill the flower with bubbles, keeping the blossom tilted up. Un-pinch the small hole and use the larger hole to blow in to. Viola, instant bubble wand.

The problem with Trumpet Vine is it can be invasive to the point of creating enemies out of even the friendliest of neighbors. Lucky for me, all my Trumpet Vine faces the west side of my house, so it gets all the afternoon sunshine. What is the ideal place to grow Trumpet Vine? In full sun and with freedom to roam or climb, your child will never have to go without a bubble wand again.
Here are some dos and don'ts when it comes to Trumpet Vines:

• Do not plant it up against a house or building, though it is tempting. Try planting it against a fence that is between sidewalks, driveways or other areas like stone walls or paths that would contain it. Of course, I don't take my own advice, and I do have a small section growing on the corner of my brick home.
• Try the method many people use for mint - plant your vine in a 5 gallon bucket with the bottom removed - this will help to keep it contained.
• Plant next to a telephone pole or light pole where it can climb and you can mow the grass around it regularly to head off shoots.
• Do not use a tree as a pole for the Trumpet vine to climb, because it will strangle the tree. Use an actual pole or fence instead and again, prune in spring or fall, or even during mild winters.
• Deadhead the Trumpet vine (to decrease seed pod production), and keep it trimmed back in the spring and fall - this will help minimize growth.
• Do wear gloves when handling Trumpet vine because some people can get a rash from handling the foliage, so it's better to err on the cautious side.

For people like me, Trumpet vine is a valuable plant for wildlife. I also have a sentimental attachment to this plant because I can remember it growing in my grandmother's garden and several other places on the farm.

Go out today and make some summer fun with the colorful, orange blossoms of the Trumpet vine. Children and adults alike will love this pretty flower.

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