How to Grow Crossvine

Bignonia capreolata

Years after the fact, I remain flummoxed as to why my neighbor Daniel – an otherwise normal, rational person – ripped down and pulled out a spectacular, 20-foot-tall labyrinth of colorful crossvine that was growing on a trellis he had built up against his house.

A close up of a Bignonia capreolata vine growing up a brick wall with dark green leaves and trumpet shaped yellow and red flowers. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

Crossvine is a fast-growing climbing vine that can reach 50 feet tall. In early spring, it produces clusters of showy orange-red, sometimes yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers against a background of 4- to 6-inch-long glossy leaves.

When new leaves appear, they’re a light green color. As they mature and summer progresses, they deepen to a dark green. And then in winter some, but not all, of the leaves turn reddish-purple.

A close up of the red, trumpet-shaped flowers of Bignonia capreolata vine growing in the garden in light sunshine.
Photo by Stan Shebs, Wikimedia Commons via CC BY-SA

Crossvine is native to forested areas of east Texas, as well as parts of the southeastern, eastern, and midwestern United States.

But back to my neighbor. I never did get a good answer out of him. I think he was just tired of it.

Tired of the low-maintenance, evergreen perennial that was a neighborhood conversation piece? Okay, Lieutenant Dan.

I think fighting so many fires throughout his career with the Austin Fire Department must have fried his brain… (Just kidding, Dan!)

Don’t be like Daniel. Plant a crossvine, watch it grow, and then let it be. This article will teach you how to do that. Here’s what’s ahead:

What Is Crossvine?

Bignonia capreolata is sometimes called trumpet vine or quarter vine.

Botanically, you may hear it referred to as Anisostichus capreolata, Doxantha capreolata, or Anisostichus crucigera, though these names are now considered taxonomically incorrect.

A close up of bright red, trumpet shaped Bignonia capreolata flowers growing in the garden in bright sunshine.

The common name “crossvine” is thought to have come from the appearance of a cross-cut section of the plant’s stem. The genus name “Bignonia” honors the librarian of French King Louis XV.

A close up of the foliage of a Bignonia capreolata vine growing up a gray pillar, showing the new climbing shoots at the top and dark green foliage.
Photo by Gretchen Heber

The Creek, Koasati, and Seminole indigenous peoples of what is now Florida, as well as the Houma of Louisiana, used crossvine roots and bark as a remedy for numerous medical conditions, including headaches, edema, rheumatism, and diphtheria.

Propagation

B. capreolata can be propagated from seeds and softwood cuttings.

From Seed

Purchase seeds or collect them from existing plants when the 4- to 8-inch-long seed pods are light brown, in late summer or early fall.

You can store the seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a year.

A close up vertical picture of the foliage of a young Bignonia capreolata vine growing up a gray pillar with a garden scene in soft focus in the background.
Photo by Gretchen Heber

Crossvine seeds don’t need any special preparation, and you can expect a 90% germination rate, more or less.

Plant seeds in a well-draining planter containing a mixture of peat, coarse sand, and perlite. Bury each seed 1 to 2 inches deep and water well.

Keep the soil moist but don’t overwater. Expect germination within three weeks.

Allow the plants to become firmly established before transplanting them outside to a sunny location.

You can direct sow outdoors in fall, or after the last frost.

From Cuttings

To propagate crossvine from cuttings, use a sharp, clean cutting implement to cut off a healthy, 6- to 8-inch stem in late spring or early summer.

A close up of the trumpet shaped, red and yellow flowers of the crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, flanked by dark green foliage on a soft focus background.

Prepare a well-draining container with growing medium. Insert a pencil in the soil and remove it to create a hole for planting.

Remove leaves from the bottom two inches of the stem and treat the cut end with a powdered rooting hormone. Insert the cutting into the prepared container.

A vertical picture of a large crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, growing up the side of a white house, with bright red flowers and green foliage, pictured in bright sunshine with a blue sky in the background.

Create a terrarium effect by placing a plastic bag over the potted cutting, and securing it to create an enclosed environment.

The cutting will take about six to eight weeks to root and be ready to transplant into the garden.

From Seedlings or Transplanting

Plant into a hole the same depth as the container from which you are transplanting. Once the seedling is settled in its new home, add mulch to cover the planting area, and water well.

How to Grow

Though this plant is generally considered appropriate for USDA Hardiness Zones 6-9b, it may survive in Zone 5, albeit with possible leaf loss.

Crossvine grows best in full sun but will tolerate some shade, although there will be fewer flowers. It prefers soil with a pH of 6.8 to 7.2.

B. capreolata likes consistently moist but well-drained, organically rich soil, but it will tolerate standing water for short periods. It is also drought-tolerant once established.

A close up vertical picture of red flowers of the Bignonia capreolata vine, framed with dark green foliage on a soft focus background.

Deer will snack on this one, so keep that in mind when it comes to site selection.

This plant can spread somewhat aggressively via suckers, so you might want to keep an eye out for those.

Fertilize crossvine with organic NPK 8-5-5 fertilizer early in spring before it flowers and then again after the blooms fade.

Growing Tips

  • Plant in full sun
  • For best results, water regularly
  • Fertilize before and after flowering

Pruning and Maintenance

Prune for size as desired. You can choose not to prune and it will do just fine. But if it’s crawling over the entrance to the shed, for example, prune away.

Just wait until after it blooms in the spring to do your cutting, as crossvine blooms on old wood.

Cultivars to Select

Here in Austin, the cultivar I see the most often is ‘Tangerine Beauty.’ It’s an older cultivar that displays red-orange flowers with yellow throats.

‘Tangerine Beauty’

Find live ‘Tangerine Beauty’ plants via Amazon.

If you need a vine that won’t grow to reach aircraft cruising altitude, consider ‘Astrosanuinea,’ a cultivar with dark purplish-red flowers that only gets to be 15-30 feet tall.

‘Astrosanuinea’

Find seeds for this type at Mabes Warehouse via Amazon.

Displaying bright orange flowers, ‘Jekyll’ was selected on Jekyll Island in Georgia. It is more cold hardy than other crossvine cultivars.

‘Jekyll’

Purchase a ‘Jekyll’ plant in a quart-sized container from Bom through Amazon.

Another “shorter” variety to consider is ‘Dragon Lady,’ which displays red or orange flowers with a bit of yellow in the throat, and reaches 20-35 feet tall at maturity.

‘Helen Fredel’ is well-liked because of its large, 2.5-inch orange flowers with yellow throats.

And finally, ‘Wabash Valley’ produces maroon flowers with yellow throats, and ‘Shalimar Red’ offers coral-red flowers. Check your local garden center for these and other colorful cultivars.

Managing Pests and Disease

Crossvine has no serious insect or disease problems. Rarely, it might be pestered by any of a few types of fungi.

You may see leaf spot – small speckles of brown, tan, or black – which are often caused by the fungus Cercospora capreolata.

You might also see blight caused by the fungus Botrytis. Blight presents on leaves or stems as dark areas with concentric rings.

Black mildew caused by the fungi Dimerosoporium tropicale or Meliola bidentata may also develop. Treat any of these fungal diseases with a fungicide.

As mentioned above, deer also enjoy browsing this vine in wintertime. Find tips for dealing with deer here.

Best Uses

This vine likes to scramble vertically, so place it next to a wall, fence, or arbor – some place where it can climb to its heart’s content and put on a stunning display of blooms in season.

Quick Reference Growing Guide

Plant Type: Perennial evergreen vine in native habitat Flower / Foliage Color: Orange, red, yellow; green
Native To: Texas, Midwest, Southeastern United States Maintenance: Low
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 6-9b Tolerance: Drought, brief boggy conditions with standing water
Bloom Time / Season: Early spring Water Needs: Moderate
Exposure: Full sun, partial shade Soil Type: Organically rich
Spacing: 6 feet Soil pH: 6.8-7.2
Planting Depth: Same as transplant container Soil Drainage: Well-draining
Height: 50 feet Companion Planting: Swamp jessamine
Spread: 6-9 feet Uses: Structure ornament
Growth Rate: Fast Family: Bignoniaceae
Attracts: Bees, butterflies, deer in winter, ruby-throated hummingbirds Genus: Bignonia
Pests & Diseases: Deer; black mildew, blight, leaf spot Species: capreolata

Don’t Be Like Daniel: Embrace This Low-Maintenance Flowering Vine

If you’re looking for a quick-growing, low-maintenance, evergreen vine that will withstand heat and drought, consider crossvine.

A close up of the dark green leaves and red and yellow trumpet shaped blooms of the Bignonia capreolata vine growing in the garden.

And once it becomes established, don’t be like my neighbor Dan and tear it all down for no discernable reason.

Let it grow and flourish. Trim it up a bit if it’s encroaching on the neighbors’ but otherwise just leave it be!

Have you ever grown crossvine? Share your tips in the comments section below, and tell us about your favorite cultivars.

Looking for more information about growing other types of vines? Check out these articles next:


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of crossvine blooms.

Photos by Gretchen Heber © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on February 29, 2020. Last updated: June 13, 2020 at 15:42 pm. Product photos via Amazon, Mabes Warehouse, and Bom. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.

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Christy Spradling
Christy Spradling (@guest_6229)
2 months ago

I’m so happy to have found all this information. I’ve noticed the trumpet shaped flowers intertwined in trees in my backyard, and for years I just assumed it was something invasive, but I liked it anyway, so I let it be. Now knowing that it was planted with a purpose and is such a great plant, I can’t wait to collect the seeds and plant in more places in my yard. The cultivar I have is Tangerine Beauty, and noticed you said it’s an older variety. Just how old are we talking? My house is 120 years old, and the… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-schultz)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Christy Spradling
2 months ago

What a delightful garden find. We’re so glad you got in touch! Where are you located, Christy? Are you in San Antonio, by any chance? Referred to often as one of the “older” cultivars and perhaps the most popular one, I thought it was strange to find online that there are so few references to the history of ‘Tangerine Beauty.’ So I did a bit of digging… All the USDA NRCS plant database had to offer was a brief statement, claiming this was one of several cultivars “bred for flower color, flower and leaf size, and winter hardiness.” I was… Read more »

Donna Buchanan
Donna Buchanan (@guest_6923)
Reply to  Allison Sidhu
2 months ago

Thank you for so much helpful information. I just planted my first tangerine beauty and although it’s quite big already I’m looking forward to watching her grow and bloom.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-schultz)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Donna Buchanan
2 months ago

You’re welcome, Donna! We’d love to see photos when she does!

Hoping4Miracle
Hoping4Miracle (@guest_7245)
1 month ago

Hi there! Hoping you can help!

My cross vines I planted are dying. I’m so confused!

I live in Phoenix, AZ and planted them in mid/late Feb.

They have since not grown much, and only deteriorated. Dying from the top down.

They get full sun. I water (drenching the ground) once daily. I used to do it in the evening but I’ve tried to switch it up to the morning with no luck.

Please help! They were so expensive and I’d hate to kill these pretty things!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-schultz)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Hoping4Miracle
1 month ago

It sounds like overwatering may be the issue here. Are the vines planted in well-draining soil? Watering at night can introduce conditions that promote fungal growth, so switching to the morning was a good idea. I’d suggest carefully digging up the roots, and taking a look. If they appear healthy, try watering less frequently, and prune away the dead or dying portions of the vines. A soil test may also help to determine the nutritional makeup and pH of your soil, and amend accordingly as needed.

Beverly McClellan
Beverly McClellan (@guest_8056)
1 month ago

Thank you for the information on the sensitivity to over-wet conditions or overwatering. One note is that the 8th photo is a trumpet vine, not cross vine. I much prefer cross vine, having had trumpet vine at my previous home and battled to prune and control it.

Clare Groom
Clare Groom (@claregroom)
Admin
Reply to  Beverly McClellan
1 month ago

Hi Beverly, good catch, thank you! I’ve removed that photo. Happy Gardening!