My Grandmother's Flowers

(Image credit: Olga Bryukhova)

Perhaps it's because I'm a gardener, but plants and flowers evoke special memories for me. Orange trumpet creeper vines (Campsis radicans) are one such flower. When I see them, I think of my grandmother. These vivid orange flowers that bloom in brilliant clusters take me back to the simpler days of my childhood.

Trumpet Flowers

As one of 23 grandchildren, one would think I wouldn't have been much more than a number to my grandmother. Yet this special lady took the time to know each one of her many grandchildren.

When my family visited on Sundays, there was always a bag of my favorite potato chips waiting on the counter and occasionally a toy would be hiding on the shelf that seemed to belong to me. It was on these Sundays in the summer that we would sit on my grandmother's front porch swing and talk.

I remember the front porch spanned the width of her house and along one side grew a huge trumpet flower vine. It always seemed to be in bloom. As we sat swinging on those hot summer evenings, my grandmother would face these flowers.

As I think back, I believe the trumpet vine's attractiveness to pollinators was the reason she grew this particular flower. Each week, my grandmother would relay tales of the butterflies and hummingbirds which fed upon the sweet nectar in the flowers.

I also remember my grandmother warning me to stay away from the trumpet flowers. This plant is highly toxic and simply touching it can cause a rash. However, the main reason was the bright orange flowers were especially attractive to wasps.

Why I Don't Grow Trumpet Vines

As much as I adore orange trumpet creeper flowers, I don't grow them. Like many other native flowers, these vines are well-adapted to my home state of Ohio. They are seldom bothered by pests and disease.

Trumpet vines are also tolerant of many soil conditions. They thrive in partly shaded areas as well as full sun and are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. These vigorous vines prefer support, but their aerial roots can cause damage to houses, roofs, and brick walls – a trait which likely didn't elude my garden-savvy grandmother.

Unfortunately, these plants are also well known for their fast growth and multiple methods of propagation. Without the natural competition from other plants, a trumpet flower vine can become quite aggressive in the garden setting.

To keep these vines in check, regular pruning of orange trumpet creeper is a must. It's obvious my grandmother had the dedication and talent to maintain a trumpet creeper vine. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit these traits.

Thus, I prefer to enjoy this delightful flower from afar. And whenever I spot those bright orange trumpet creeper flowers, it takes me back to that porch swing and those hot summer nights with my grandmother.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.