Douglas Hunt
Douglas Hunt
  • Hometalker
  • New Smyrna Beach, FL

Why crossvine is a great pergola plant


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.
Looking down on the pergola. (Hello, hummingbirds, this is what heaven looks like.)
Looking down on the pergola. (Hello, hummingbirds, this is what heaven looks like.)
Looking up.
Looking up.
The only downside to all those blooms.
The only downside to all those blooms.

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