Plant This: Orange crush! Crazy for crossvine

It’s a spring fling. A brief yet passionate affair. I have a big, orange crush on crossvine ‘Tangerine Beauty’ (Bignonia capreolata ) that lasts for a blissful couple of weeks every spring.

Actually, crossvine is pretty fine all year, with long, evergreen leaves perfect for cloaking a fence or a trellis, and it blooms in full sun or part shade (the more sun, the better the display though). These pictures were taken this afternoon in my old garden at the Unsold House. The crossvine is in peak bloom.

The spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis ), which I’ve been photographing in my new garden, is also putting on a pretty show under the cedar elm. Leaning down to admire the blossoms, which stayed open this afternoon under cloudy skies, I enjoyed the color contrast between the blue and purple flowers and the orange crossvine behind them.

Evergreen bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa ), one of my favorite clumping grasses, fills out the bed in front of the crossvine-covered fence. This orange crush will run its course in a week or two, but it sure is heart-stopping while it lasts.

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

27 Responses

  1. I have the crossvine, too. At least you have plenty of space for yours! We have to keep ours trimmed on a too-small, but tall, obelisk trellis.

    Orange and purple together make a great combo.


    I’ve had some vines like that, Cameron: butterfly vine, star jasmine, passionflower, all grown on too small a trellis. When you love a vine but don’t have the room to really let it spread out, you do what you must to keep it contained. —Pam

  2. Frances says:

    Hi Pam, ooh, I love this vine and that is one splendid specimen at the unsold house. It would seem an excellent selling point right now in full bloom. Loved all the groovy blues too. You must have been a mere child back then. :-) You asked about my walls, the large block wall behind the main house was built by professionals with the whole excavation with gravel pounded by machine base french drain behind ordeal. Much too big a job for us, and that is a whole lotta dirt being held back by that wall. I built all the stacked stone walls and pond and Walt did the block walls behind the garage deck and the veggie area. The old block wall to the left of the garage deck was here as part of the house that was torn down.

    I figured your lower wall was professionally built, Frances, but then again, I wouldn’t put any feat of landscaping past you and the Financier. —Pam

  3. Janet says:

    Very nice specimen of the crossvine. Looks great on that wall. I think you need to find a place for it in the new place.

    It’s already here, Janet. The previous owners planted it generously along the long back fence, and it has just started to bloom. However, since it gets much less sun than the vines in my old garden, it’ll never have the power of the orange crush, alas. —Pam

  4. Brenda Kula says:

    I’ve suddenly had the “orange crush” syndrome myself. I do have tangerine orange azaleas out front. I love the orange/yellow bulbine I recently purchased. Orange is so vibrant!

    I agree, Brenda—the orange-and-yellow bulbine is worth having a crush over too. I especially love it growing next to cool, blue agaves. —Pam

  5. cindee says:

    That is just outstanding! I would love that here! Too bad it only blooms for a short time in the spring!(-:

    Perhaps it’s like Christmas, and we appreciate it all the more when it comes but once a year. —Pam

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This crossvine is gorgeous. I hope you have a hunk of it transplanted into your new garden. I would think you would be sad without its spring time show of orange. I think your old garden misses you.

    It can’t miss me, Lisa. I’m over there nearly every other day. ;-) Luckily, I didn’t need to transplant any crossvine, as the previous owners had planted it along the shady back fence. Its evergreen leaves soften the fence, but it doesn’t get enough sun to put on a big display. —Pam

  7. Hi, Pam,
    Since our crossvine is gushing orange too right now, my eyes went to the bamboo muhly–gorgeous. Is there anything I should know about it before going to buy some?

    All you need know is that you must have it, Kelly. It’ll grow in full sun to partial shade, and it’s very drought-tolerant (it’s native to Arizona), although it does best with occasional watering, as all grasses do. It looks especially nice contrasted with architectural agaves and yuccas, and I like sprawling, tough zexmenia at its feet. —Pam

  8. Pam — I hope you have a photo book with pictures of all these gorgeous moments in the garden with the realtor or in the house for potential buyers to browse through. This is such a lovely garden!

    I don’t, Linda, but that’s a nice idea. Of course, I could always point a potential buyer to this blog. Thanks for your kind words. —Pam

  9. Robin says:

    It is beautiful in full bloom! I’m learning to appreciate colors other than pink in the garden. It will always be my favorite, but that orange and purple spiderwort is beautiful together.

    I even like hot pink and orange together, Robin. Ka-pow! —Pam

  10. Oh…wish you had it at your new place. I’m sorry your house hasn’t sold. I was sure it had. The vine is spectacular and so mature.

    Hi, Anna. I do have that crossvine in the new garden (see above comments), and it’s just starting to bloom. —Pam

  11. Grace says:

    I bet the hummingbirds go insane over those bright blooms. Beautiful.

    You would think so, Grace, but I can’t remember ever seeing them on the crossvine. It might be a little early for hummingbirds in Austin yet. —Pam

  12. Pam, my Tangerine Beauty is still too young to show off like your mature vines, but it makes me look forward to the day when they will also crush me with their beauty. And ever since you mentioned it to me, I’ve wanted to add Bamboo Muhly. I plan to this spring; can you suggest the best place/prices you’ve found it at?

    Barton Springs Nursery had it on sale a few weeks ago for $3.99 per one-gallon. I snapped up several more at that price. You might call to see if the sale is still ongoing. —Pam

  13. Monica says:

    I love orange and the spiderwort looks great in the foreground. I just love the globs and globs or orange–of course this is yet another plant not hardy in my zone. Fortunately pyracantha is hardy here and it also has great berries, albeit in fall, and while it’s a shrub and not a vine, the plant is *covered* in orange or reddish berries. And it’s prickly!

    Pyracantha is very pretty in the fall. But, yikes, those thorns. The previous owners planted several along our new garden’s back fence, and I did a little pruning recently, narrowly escaping injury. ;-) —Pam

  14. Randy says:

    Is that a single vine? Because we may have over did it by planting two on a 4×9 foot arbor.

    Also you had mentioned I should get the Yellow Butterfly vine. Does it do well from seed or should I try and find the vine?

    There are two crossvines on that fence, Randy. Fear not. It’s a fairly well-behaved vine.

    I don’t know about growing butterfly vine/gallinita from seed. I never collected any, and I don’t remember ever seeing a volunteer in my garden. The butterfly-shaped seeds sure are cool though. —Pam

  15. Phillip says:

    Pam, you convinced me to get one of these last year. I had wanted one for a while but your photos from last year excited me so much so I finally bought one. Mine will have to go grow straight up a narrow trellis before finding space to spread at the top. Yours is fantastic. Are you going to have one at your new house?

    Congrats on finding space for your own crossvine, Phillip. As for the new garden, there are already several of them growing along our shady back fence. They add a nice evergreen drapery back there, and there are some blooms just opening, but since they get so much shade they’ll never get the display shown in this post. I may have to find a place in the sun for one. —Pam

  16. linda says:

    I can see why you’re crazy for crossvine Pam! It’s gorgeous. It looks fantastic with the spiderwort too. How perfect that you inherited it in your new garden too!

    Thanks, Linda. I’m happy to have it in the new garden. —Pam

  17. MJ says:

    I love the wide angle shot across the yard. Such a sense of escape and peace, a la Home and Garden. I can picture myself reclining and enjoying the view.

    Tell me about Crossvine on the wood fence. How long has it been there? I love vines, Crossvine is at the top of my list, but I worry that if I cover my fence, the vines will damage the wood or the structure of the fence. We moved to our home a year ago and it took months to remove all the English ivy. I believe it was the over growth that caused the gate to shift and not close properly now. –MJ

    Hi, MJ. Crossvine climbs via twinging tendrils, not by attaching rootlets. So it won’t damage a wood fence the way that English ivy will. In fact, you’ll need to string wires on the fence to give it something to climb until it reaches the top. —Pam

  18. Jean says:

    Beautiful crossvine. I used to have the same variety and boy, was it a climber! It climbed two stories up our stucco and brick. I like the look of the bamboo muhly in front of it. Sometimes crossvine gets a little naked at the bottom so that’s a great solution. It’s also one of my favorite grasses (and one I brought from my old house since I feared I wouldn’t find it here (and I was right)).

    So is the rain over for you guys? Looks like it in your photos. We’re still getting it and although we need it, it’s getting tiresome!

    Hi, Jean. No, the rain is still falling, although it’s more misty and drizzly than real rain today. These pics were taken during a lull in the drizzle, and the bamboo muhly is bent over with raindrops. —Pam

  19. Jenny says:

    She certainly is a beauty and grows like wildfire. I promised to take out the one growing over the greenhouse this year and I am jolly well going to do it! It may keep the greenhouse warm but it is now too shady.

    You sound resolved, Jenny. Good luck with it! —Pam

  20. Racquel says:

    Wow that adds a nice punch of color to the fence in your old garden Pam. A nice backdrop too for all the other plants. :)

    Thanks, Racquel. I much prefer green and occasional flowers to a boring, bare fence. —Pam

  21. Sweet Bay says:

    Your Crossvine is so filled with flowers. It’s beautiful. We have Crossvine growing wild on our farm — I must look for it, as it blooms at the very top of the trees.

    They must be hard to see way up there. Too bad it won’t bloom lower for you. —Pam

  22. Lee says:

    Beautiful! I can’t wait until mine looks like that. You know, they say it’s timed with the hummingbird migration, but I’ve never seen hummingbirds here the same time as the crossvine bloom. Have you? I wonder if it’s blooming earlier than it used to because of climate change (or being in an urban environment). I also hope my spiderwort will spread some day. I may need to buy more. I love that crazy weed.

    P.S. Your Old Yard looks so different without the trampoline!

    It looks so much better without the trampoline! We removed a playhouse in addition to the trampoline when we moved, and recently I sodded zoysia grass across the old play space. It really greens up the back yard. There’s a lesson here about the benefit of leaving a small lawn.

    And no, I’ve never noticed hummingbirds on the crossvine. It seems too early for them, doesn’t it? —Pam

  23. Pam, I have my first bamboo muhly. To prune, do we cut out canes? And/or, do we take the clippers to frost damage? I did both, but have no clue what is the proper procedure. And wish my crossvine looked like that! Linda

    Linda, when bamboo muhlies are young, they can look a little bit like Bermuda grass on steroids. But don’t worry—by the end of the first or second year, they’ll fill out nicely. If they get a few “stray hairs”—stalks that stick up way above the others—I’ll cut those off. You can even just break them off with your fingers. I don’t cut the canes to the ground, ever. But you can tip prune, if you like, or just let it arch and weep, as it wants to do naturally. I would cut off frost damage, but it’s strange you mention it because this was a mild winter, and I don’t think I ever saw frost damage on mine. Your garden must get a lot colder than mine did. Enjoy your new muhlies! —Pam

  24. Gorgeous, Pam! I don’t blame you for your orange crush–that crossvine is a beauty. Reminds me of our summer-blooming trumpet vines up here, but I think that your version of the bright orange vines must be a little bit better behaved than our northern version. :)

    Yes, crossvine is a model child compared to the uncontrollable trumpet vine, which also grows well here. —Pam

  25. Aiyana says:

    I was really excited when I saw the Bignonia capreolata, thinking it just might work here in the Phoenix area. I’ve been looking for vines to cover my large expanses of unpainted block walls, but alas, we are in 9b, just outside of the this vine’s recommended temperature zones (5-9). Drats! I guess I’m going to have to settle for Cat’s Claw.

    Drats, indeed. Still, I’ve admired the unknown vines that Scott Calhoun grows in his Tucson garden in Yard Full of Sun. Maybe Cat’s Claw was one of them. —Pam

  26. Ann says:

    What does the crossvine look like in winter? It is beautiful in bloom.

    The vine remains evergreen here in zone 8b, though of course it doesn’t flower again until spring. —Pam

  27. Cassi says:

    How much is a crossvine Flower?

    Cassi, I’m not a nursery. Contact your local nursery for that information. —Pam