Phil DudmanOrange trumpet creeper

Here’s a handy little follow on from my last blog where I suggested spotting a few hybrid aloes about your garden for a lovely splash of winter colour. Well, if that wasn’t enough colour for you, then how about this one? This week I’m asking you to take look at a rather bright if not slightly gaudy winter flowering vine. It’s the orange trumpet creeper or Brazilian flame vine or, if you like to get botanical, Pyrostegia venusta.

A lovely splash of winter colour, orange trumpet creeper, Pyrostegia venusta, covers hundreds of metres of continuous fencing

Flame vine is the perfect name, because when it’s in bloom, the plant comes alive with a fiery hue of bright orange. If you dare battle the inferno to take a closer look at the individual flowers, you’ll see the small yet bold orange trumpet-like blooms that smother the vine.

One of the best examples of this plant I’ve seen (pictured) borders a large property in the rolling hills of northern NSW where I live. It covers what must be 100 metres of continuous fencing. Like it or not, it does create an unforgettable show, and the plant itself has certainly proven its value in its ability to cover what would otherwise be just another boring fence. What’s more, it’s in a quite exposed location and gets minimal maintenance.

Even without the blooms, the foliage of this creeper forms a dense curtain making the plant ideal for parts of the garden where you need to create some privacy or screen out an unwanted view.

It’s easy to grow, and best suited to warm coastal areas where you can provide a sunny spot with protection from cold winds and frost. It’s also quite drought hardy once established, and pests and diseases don’t affect it.

A close-up of the flowers on Pyrostegia venusta shows why it has both its common names of orange trumpet creeper & Brazilian flame vine

So what do you think?

If you’ve got a place for a bright and colourful creeperlike this in your garden, just keep in mind, the mass of foliage can get quite weighty, especially when there is rain about, so your support needs to be strong. Any solid fence is ideal, particularly steel mesh types which provide the perfect frame and they will benefit greatly from a little softening plant life. Pergolas are good too and look a treat when the flowers hang from edges of the frame. I’ve also seen the plant used to great effect creeping over and brightening up an old shed, carport and even a rusty old tank stand. All it needs is a little encouragement early on to lead the vine in the desired direction and then let it do its thing.

OK, so I’m sure you’re wondering… a plant that displays such vigour and resilience must fit into the category of ‘potentially uncontrollable’. Well, believe it or not, it’s actually one of the more civilised creepers getting about… and certainly not rampant in the same way a bougainvillea or wisteria can be. All it takes is a bit of light pruning every year in spring to keep it contained. The prunings are soft and easy to handle and make excellent material for the compost heap.

So there you go… that’s the orange trumpet creeper or Brazilian flame vine – a welcome and colourful addition to the winter garden if you’ve got a sturdy support.

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52 thoughts on “Orange trumpet creeper

  1. I live in Ingleburn, SW of Sydney where winter temps regularly drop to freezing, but the Orange Trumpet vines around the area survive very well. There are some spectacular examples along walls and fences here in our suburb. Having said that though, my own Orange Trumpet Vine, now 18 months in the ground has done little! Every other vine I have continues to run rampant, yet the very one I want to take off is like a stubborn child refusing to get dressed for school in the morning. Never mind, our Passionfruit behaved similarly for 2 yrs or so before we moved it to another spot in the garden and now coming into its 7th yr continues to produce amazing crops and all for an initial outlay of $2. You can’t win them all, as this novice gardener has found out!

      • Success, after owning my orange trumpet vine for 3 + yrs it has finally decided it wants to stay and is flowering beautifully for the first time ever. Over the past few months it has easily quadrupled in size and now has 2 large bamboo tripods for it to grow over. It is situated next to a flowering plum, so the colour combo of deep purple next to the orange is lovely. Thank goodness I didn’t give up and rip it out as I was so tempted to do!

  2. Hi Phil

    I have orange trumpet growing on a cyclone fence and the only thing I can’t get it to do is grow down to the botton of the fence. Our fence is approx 2 metres and it tends to grow on to top part only. Can you suggest anything to encourage it to grow downwards we have a dog and a reserve next to us so I want to block his view to stop him barking. Also can you tell me what months of the year if has no foliage at all. Is there any other quick growing vine you would suggest that can do this and has foliage all year round also that dosen’t tend to go too woody.

    • Hi Tania, my concern is that your vine is not getting enough access to sunlight, particularly on the lower parts of the fence, that’s why it is only growing on the top. Is that the case? The beautifully established vine shown above is in full sun, and the face of the fence is fully exposed to the western sun, so there’s plenty of light getting to the lower sections. You may find that you will get better results with a climber such as Chinese Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). It will perform better in low light situations, and with a bit of training you should be able to establish a solid cover. Alternatively, you could pick up a few rolls of bamboo screen and attach this to the lower sections to instantly block off the view… could look quite attractive too. Phil

  3. I’ve just bought two pots of this creeper. I am wondering how wide a space it will cover. On the tag it says it can reach up to 10m in height. Does this mean I can train it to 10m in length and then it will branch down from there? Also I am thinking of growing it on my balcony and letting it hang down from the railings, however, as there is no soil up there, I will need to grow it in a pot. Will it grow in a pot?

    • Hi Ben, yes this plant will easily cover a 10 m area over time, but if you want fast dense coverage, space plants about 3-5 m apart and regularly prune the tips of the vines to encourage multiple branching.

      You could grow this one in a pot, but choose a large container – 400-500 cm across – and be prepared to fertilise regularly and dig out sections of the rootball and replace the potting mix from time to time to keep the plant actively growing. It would be better long term to plant the vine in ground and train it up to the balcony.

  4. Hi Phil. I am a gardener and am wondering how hard to cut these back after flowering as I have a new client who wants it taken right back.
    Thoughts appreciated.

  5. Hi Phil

    Do you know where I can purchase the seeds of the OT vine? I’ve searched the net but can’t locate suppliers.

    I love the vine, and had a photo of a fence covered in it on facebook, which prompted a friend from Cambodia to ask me to buy her some seeds as she is wanting to grow it in her village to attract bees etc (part of a project she’s working on).

    Thanks and have a great day

  6. Hi just wondered if this can be cultivated from cuttings…how many would one need to plant along a 100m fence to get that kind of effect 🙂 I have just such a fence in need of covering 🙂

    • Hi Sharon, yes they strike easily from cuttings taken in summer/autumn. Space the established cuttings every 1.5m for good coverage

  7. And…its an eastern boundary and gets a reasonable amount of Sun. Do you think it would make a difference which end of the fence I planted…will it grow uphill or downhill 🙂 north or south? Do I just have to train it.

    • They don’t need a lot of training if you have a mesh fence. You may need to guide them towards wires if you gave a timber fence. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, the vines will naturally grow towards the north

  8. I have been hunting for plants for hanging pots (or more accurately troughs), that will effectively create a curtain/waterfall effect across a 5m length. Would an orange trumpet creeper grow this way?? Or is it pre disposed to grow up?

    • Hi Michelle – orange trumpet creeper is definitely one of those climbers that’s always ‘on the up’, so it won’t work as a spillover for you. Without knowing where you’re located, I’d maybe look at Dichondra, Convovulus sabatius (syn mauritanicus), Rhipsalis, Rosemary ‘Irene’, Casuarina ‘Cousin It’, Russellia, Lysimachia, or even orchid cactus (Epiphyllum).

      • Thank you for replying, I live a few hours North of Sydney. However I am looking forward to googling the plants you have suggested.

  9. Hi,
    I am prince from India. I have a flame vine in a container for the past 3 years. Till today no flowers has bloomed, expect the plant growing and putting more and more leaves. Kindly suggest a way to make it bloom.

    • A few things to consider; plants growing in pots require regular fertilising to grow well and produce flowers. The container also restricts root growth, so you may find it necessary to pot it on into a larger container. Check too that the plant is getting adequate moisture and sunshine. At the end of the day, a vine such as this is far too vigorous for growing in a pot – it would perform better if planted in the ground. A better choice of plant to provide colour in a container would be a mandevilla or a bambino bougainvillea.

  10. Hi Phil, my name is Onofrio and living in sud Italy. My hobby is the green and in this moment on the any vine’s plants. Please is possible shipping some seeds of pyrostegia venusta? Thank you.

  11. Hi my name is Leanne and I live in Brisbane Australia….I have one of these vines growing up onto my fence I share with the neighbour….I am not sure why others are having a problem with the vine ‘acting like a naughty child refusing to get dressed for school’ lol as the vine I have literally grows overnight! I need to trim it back every couple of weeks otherwise its out of control. It annoys my neighbour apparently (though she is easily annoyed) and so Im always onto it. It once got trimmed back to the ground so it was literally a little stump by my gardener and I was so angry as I thought he had killed it…but no, within a couple weeks it was shooting again… I am considering removing it….but how can you when something is as strong willed to live when given no love at all!

  12. Help! Am I the only one who cannot grow this plant? I planted 4 of them two weeks ago and they have gradually died. They have had plenty of water, good soil added and fertiliser. What have I done wrong?

  13. Hi Connie, not sure about anyone else but I can’t answer that….seems Phil Dudman has abandoned this post! Mine was already growing here when I bought this little home two years ago and it obviously was planted in a way that it was well suited to. Maybe try one in a pot first and give it some love….I dont know!

    • thanks Leanne! I just don’t know what’s going on! everyone around here can grow this plant and bougainvillea……I think I must have really bad soil. Yes, I will try again and keep them in the pot this time 🙂

      • Hi Connie (and Leanne) – Unfortunately for us, Phil is now editing 2 magazines and can’t manage to pop back to answer questions these days.

        However, my thoughts are that if 4 plants of the same type die soon after planting, it’s more likely it was not something that you did, but something that was done to them before you bought them. Were they from a well-tended, reputable nursery? Or a big box store? Their deaths over only a few weeks is symptomatic of having dried out several times to wilting in the recent past, and then being revived to look good enough for someone to buy them. But so many roots have died that the plant is not going to live longer term.

        • hi there – I think the nursery is a good one. I think to be honest it was just too cold for them. I am not deterred though…….I will buy some more and try again. I will have my orange hedge!

  14. I live on the Baja. I have two of these vines and they look awful. Never really did anything. My neighbor one street over has the most beautiful one growing over an arched gate. Mine are on the same side as hers, but I get no “happiness”. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Diane – it’s so frustrating, isn’t it, when you can see a plant doing well nearby, but it won’t do it for you! A plant that’s not dying but also not thriving is most likely suffering some sort of nutrient deficit. These are most often caused by root and soil problems: poor drainage; under- or over-watering; larvae in the soil eating the fine feeding roots; or specific nutrient deficiencies which can be caused by the soil being too alkaline or acidic, or even contaminated. Another reason for plant starvation can be boring insects that feed in the cambium layer. Look for holes in the stem. Unfortunately there’s not much that you can do about that – I ended up having to take out my first Pyrostegia that had stem borer.

  15. Hi. I love this plant – memories from my childhood. I live in outback Queensland and struggle to keep a garden but I planted this about 5 years ago. It has survived, but never flowered! Any ideas? E

  16. I have a plant at my holiday house and want to propagate cuttings for my home. What is the best method to use? It’s growing in the neighbours backyard but it appears that the previous owners have trailed the canes coming across the fence over our pergola. Any instructions would be appreciated.

    • The best time to take cuttings of orange trumpet creeper or flame vine, Pyrostegia venusta, is during the active growing season of spring-summer. Take softwood cuttings from the the soft new growth at the end of a stem when the plant has had a good watering (or after rain). Make sure you use very clean and sharp secateurs or scissors. Use a potting mix that’s designed for striking cuttings or make your own from regular potting mix/compost with at least 50% of coarse, washed river sand. Softwood cuttings dry out very easily so make a mini greenhouse by covering the pot with a plastic bag secured with an elastic band around the rim, as this will hold in moisture. Then put the pot in a shady place until the cuttings have struck, checking them regularly to make sure they don’t dry out.

    • Hi Evelyn – I can’t advise you where you can buy it unless I know in which country/state etc you live and even desert climates are also variable depending on country and altitude. This plant usually needs both heat and humidity but I’m sure there are exceptions if you can keep it well watered.

  17. Hi, I know this is an old blog but I think the Orange Trumpet Creeper is a beautiful plant. I was wondering if anyone have any cutting they can send me. I’d like to cover up my ugly chain link fence and have a more pleasant view.
    Thanks a lot,

    • Hi YM, If you let me have your email address, perhaps I can help you, so long as you are in Australia and not living in one of the states where I am unable to send plant cuttings. I have previously helped a lady on here with cuttings that she was successful in propagating.

  18. My golden trumpet vine is about 12 feet long and bought about 3 months ago , but it has no side growth ,just one long vine , what can I do to make it bushy . Liz 25.5 2017.

    • Hi Liz – in my experience, trumpet vine can take a little while to settle in before it starts to make much new growth. Depending on where you’re located, it may just need to a bit more summer warmth to get it going. While you can prune back the main stem to help them bush out, that’s not usually necessary. I think you should wait a bit longer.

  19. I purchased 2 of these vines yesterday from Bunnings in Mildura, VIC, & planted them out the back where the boundary fences meet, south west corner so it gets good sun all day. Hoping to get a glorious show of colour next season.

    • From my observation, Pyrostegia will often sit and sulk for 6 months or so after planting, to the point that you worry that’s there’s something wrong with the plant. But be patient, as it quickly takes off after this settling-in period.

  20. I’m after some winter flowering climbers and thinking of the Orange trumpet climber. I’d like to plant some to provide more food source for my bees during winter and of course the stunning display. I’d like to know is it toxic? Obviously bees love it but I’m going to eat the honey so I’m curious.

    • Hi Carol, there’s nothing I know about this flower or nectar being toxic…. so I think it would be fine for your honey. Just bear in mind the plants potential for weediness, and need for a strong support to grow on.

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