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Why crossvine is a great pergola plant

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Two years ago I put a pergola over the patio on the back of my house and planted a one-gallon pot of a lovely cultivar of our native crossvine, Bignonia capreolata "Tangerine Beauty," next to one of the supports. Today that one plant almost covers the 10 x 15 foot pergola, and that's after climbing 8 feet up. Right now, it is putting on a spectacular display of deep apricot and golden yellow blooms.
Crossvine is a member of the the botanical family Bignoniaceae, which also includes the more widely known trumpet vine, Campsis radicans. Like trumpet vine, this is a vigorous grower (estimates of its size range up to 50 feet, although my cultivar shouldn't get past 30) and needs a large, sturdy support. Trying to keep it small would be an exercise in frustration, but if you have a large area to cover, it is perfect.
The shape of the flowers will tell you it is beloved of hummingbirds, and I can tell you that bees are pretty fond of it as well. Not surprisingly, the best show is in full sun, but it will take some shade. Mine gets no water other than what mother nature provides. In the northern limits of its range (it is said to be hardy to zones 5 or 6, depending on the source), it will probably lose all its leaves in the winter and may even die back to the ground. In my location on the Florida coast, it sheds some leaves, and the foliage that persists takes on an appealing burgundy cast.
Crossvine has branched tendrils with adhesive disks, so it is self-climbing. It needs tying only to train it. Some say the flowers are fragrant, but I have thousands of them right now and do not detect one, a fact that does not detract from my enjoyment of this plant in the slightest.

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  • White Oak Studio Designs
    White Oak Studio Designs Pullman, MI
    on Mar 26, 2014

    What a stunning plant...sigh. Oh to live in Florida! I no longer actively make my handmade plant papers but those blooms would have been a stunning addition to my papers! Love the trellis filled with them.

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Mar 26, 2014

      @White Oak Studio Designs It makes quite an impression, doesn't it? It's pretty hardy, actually, although I'm not sure about Michigan.

  • Tonya Hull Sacco
    Tonya Hull Sacco Kenvil, NJ
    on Mar 26, 2014

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Mar 26, 2014

      @Tonya Hull Sacco Thanks for stopping by and checking it out, Tonya.

  • Jennifer G
    Jennifer G Clifton, CO
    on Mar 26, 2014

    Do they have big pods in the fall? I think I may have this growing along my fence. The leaves and flowers are identical to your photos, but mine produces these big 4-6" pods every fall before loosing their leaves after the first snow. They die back during the winter leaving empty hollow vines, then pop up again from the ground/roots every spring. The hummingbirds and bees love the flowers (which are numerous) but mine don't get nearly as big as you say yours do. Most be my zone and short growing season.

    • Michelle Eliker
      Michelle Eliker Vallejo, CA
      on Mar 27, 2014

      @Jennifer G the trumpet vine and crossvine also have different leaves. The trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) has smaller, paired leaves that are slightly serrated while the crossvine's leaves (Bignonia capreolata) are larger and smooth. My neighbors have a trumpet vine that grows along our shared fence. It's beautiful in bloom but would cover my whole house if it had a chance!

  • Charlsie Sparks Blocker
    Charlsie Sparks Blocker Mineral Wells, TX
    on Mar 27, 2014

    This is commonly called Honeysuckle in Texas..although very pretty it becomes invasive and will choke out your other plants...very hearty and pretty but beware !!!!!!!!!!!

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Mar 27, 2014

      @Charlsie Sparks Blocker The flowers do somewhat resemble honeysuckle, but this really is a different plant. As I mention in my post, it is a very vigorous grower, but I have seen no sign of it suckering.

  • Ellen Mendonca
    Ellen Mendonca Rockaway Park, NY
    on Mar 27, 2014

    I love this post! You provided such great information and the pergola is beautiful!

    • Douglas Hunt
      Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
      on Mar 27, 2014

      @Ellen Mendonca Thank you, Ellen. I could live on my pergola right now!

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