How to Prune Overgrown Trumpet Vines

How to Prune Overgrown Trumpet Vines

How to Prune Overgrown Trumpet Vines

Trumpet vines (Campsis radicans) are beautiful flowering vines that can quickly take over gardens and landscapes if left unchecked. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to prune and control overgrown trumpet vines.

When to Prune Trumpet Vines

The best time to prune trumpet vines is in late winter, before new growth emerges. Pruning in winter allows you to see the overall structure of the vine and remove unwanted growth more effectively.

  • Late winter is ideal, between February and early March in most climates.
  • Avoid pruning in fall as this can encourage new growth that is susceptible to winter damage.
  • Spring pruning can be done but avoid pruning after new leaf buds emerge in spring.

Signs Your Trumpet Vine Needs Pruning

  • The vine has grown onto the roof, into trees, or is encroaching into unwanted areas.
  • Growth is congested and dense with many overlapping stems.
  • You are unable to access areas blocked by the vine.
  • Very few flowers are produced.
  • The vine has become unruly and unsightly.

How to Prune Overgrown Trumpet Vines

Safety First

  • Wear thick gloves, long sleeves and eye protection when pruning. Trumpet vines have rough stems with sharp thumb-sized thorns.
  • Use bypass hand pruners for smaller stems up to half inch thickness. For thicker stems, use long-handled loppers or pruning saws.

1. Remove Entirely Unwanted Growth

  • Identify and cut away at the base any stems growing into unwanted areas like roofs, gutters, trees and shrubs.

2. Thin Out Congested Areas

  • Remove overlapping intertwining stems to open up congested areas. This allows light and air to penetrate.
  • Cut stems at the base or back to a main branch.

3. Prune Remaining Stems By Half

  • Prune remaining stems back by about half their length to an outward facing bud or branch.
  • This encourages new growth lower down for a fuller, balanced shape.
  • Avoid leaving bare stubby stems – cut to an outward bud.

Trumpet vine before and after pruning

Before and after pruning an overgrown trumpet vine

4. Remove Old Wood

  • Identify and remove older, thicker stems down to the base. This rejuvenates growth.
  • Signs of old wood: Stems over 1 inch thick, grey and dull in color versus newer green stems.
  • Avoid removing more than 30% of total growth.

5. Clean Up Debris

  • Dispose of all pruned stems and pick up fallen debris around the vine.
  • Trumpet vines are vigorous growers – keep area tidy to easily monitor new growth.

Follow Up Care After Pruning

  • Check for new sprouts emerging at the base and prune back to just 2-3 strong new stems.
  • Water well after pruning to help recovery.
  • Apply mulch around the base to conserve moisture.
  • Resume regular trumpet vine care like watering and fertilizing.

When to Call a Professional

Seek professional help for pruning trumpet vines in these situations:

  • The trumpet vine has grown onto the roof or high up into trees.
  • You need to prune near power lines.
  • The vine has grown into or under concrete areas.
  • The vine stems are thicker than 1 inch diameter.
  • You do not feel comfortable safely accessing or working at heights.

With proper annual pruning and care, trumpet vines can be maintained and prevented from becoming a nuisance. Tackle overgrown trumpet vines in late winter before growth resumes in spring.