Why crossvine is a great pergola plant

Douglas Hunt
by Douglas Hunt
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 up.
The only downside to all those blooms.
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  • Bob Bob on Mar 29, 2021

    I believe Cross Vines may be the answer I've been seeking to cover a large pergola that is built onto and attached to my raised wooden deck. The pergola is 8 feet high and wide, by 30 feet long. I will need to grow these plants in pots since no ground access. If feasible, how large should the pot (pots) be for growing long term, and will I need more than one plant for good coverage? I live in Tallahassee, and the deck faces west.

    I love your site and have learned much; thank you Douglas!

  • Heidi Miller-Esguerra Heidi Miller-Esguerra on Sep 10, 2021

    I need advice on repotting (pot diameter & depth) 2 Monrovia tangerine beauty crossvines to grow up large pergola posts on a concrete patio. someone recommended 24" diameter. Also is there a medium you recommend?

  • Maureen A Teachman Maureen A Teachman on Apr 26, 2022

    Is this plant invasive? I read here about trumpet vine travelling to neighbors’ yards. Will a crossvine do that?

    For an overhead pergola/trellis attached to your roof How do you train it to prevent it from growing into your roof gutters or onto your roof?. Zone 6. Thank you

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  • Becky Partain Becky Partain on Jul 15, 2017


  • Sherry Sherry on Jun 18, 2021

    Thank you so much for this post. We had a gorgeous trumpet vine for years but it actually spread three houses away (actually up a huge pine there and fortunately neighbors didn't mind). We removed it when it finally pulled down its trellis and have missed it tremendously but didn't know what to replace it with. Don't know that it will thrive here, but we'll try crossvine as it looks so much like the trumpet vine we miss! Thanks, again.