Perennials & Ornamental Grasses

Trumpet tree - plant, care and hibernate


If you want to get an eye-catcher in the garden, the trumpet tree is the best choice. But be careful: it is slightly poisonous in all parts of its plants.

Adult gold trumpet tree 'Aurea' - © v_blinov -

The trumpet tree belongs to the trumpet tree family and can reach considerable dimensions and a height of up to 18 meters. While the trunk looks thick and shortened, the treetop can appear all the more expansive. The heart-shaped leaves reach a length of up to 20 centimeters. However, the trees are particularly valued for their flowers and occur as ornamental trees in gardens and parks. The striking blossoms reminiscent of trumpets have also given the trees their name.

Common trumpet trees are also used as a useful plant in their home and are considered a popular bee pasture. For amateur gardeners, we tend to be interested in the smaller stature types. These grow quite slowly and can also catch the eye on the balcony and terrace.

The trumpet tree is slightly poisonous in all parts of its plants. The main active ingredient is Catalpin. This has only not been proven in the seeds. The leaves contain cumaric acid, caffeic acid and ursolic acid. Allergic reactions can also occur if you come into contact with the wood.

The spread of the trumpet tree

The original home of the trumpet tree is in the USA. They can be found in the southeastern United States as well as in Florida. There the plant is a popular ornamental tree and can be found in parks and also in many private gardens. The plant reached Europe in the 18th century and is now also cultivated in our latitudes. The gold trumpet tree and the ball trumpet tree can be found in many gardens or on terraces and balconies. In the wild, the trumpet tree is native to dry soils and sunny locations.

When does the trumpet tree bloom?

The flowering of the trumpet tree extends over the months of June and July. The approximately four millimeter long round flower buds can appear in May. The bloom of the trumpet tree is striking because the white and up to 15 centimeters long flowers are crossed by two yellow stripes and show purple to golden spots.

What types of trumpet trees are there?

❍ Gold Trumpet Tree:

Gold Trumpet Tree (Catalpa bignonioides 'Aurea')
Growth rate:20 - 30 cm a year
Height:400 - 700 cm
Spread:300 - 500 cm
Root system:Heart-rooting
Location:Sun to partial shade
Ground:moist and nutritious, otherwise very undemanding
"Show more pictures and data

The gold trumpet tree came to our latitudes from its native USA in the 18th century. In contrast to the common trumpet tree, these popular ornamental plants only grow four to six meters in height. The gold trumpet tree has golden yellow leaves after the shoots, which exude a scent that can be heard in the evening hours, which should protect against mosquitoes.

The small trees sprout very late and often appear bare in early May. The gold trumpet tree thrives particularly well in a warm and sunny location. Young plants appear less robust and need growth support and winter protection.

❍ Ball trumpet tree:

The small trumpet tree 'Nana' for the front yard - © schulzfoto -
Ball Trumpet Tree (Catalpa bignonioides 'Nana')
Growth rate:5 - 10 cm a year
Height:200-300 cm
Spread:200-300 cm
Root system:Heart-rooting
Location:Sun to partial shade
Ground:normal garden soil, well drained u. nutritious
"Show more pictures and data

Ball trumpet trees are the small and compact-looking alternative to the vigorous tree giant from the plant family. The particularly popular “Nana” variety only grows to a height of around four meters. The spherical, dense and up to 3 meters protruding crown is an excellent shade.

Ball-trumpet trees grow about 20 centimeters annually. You should take this into account when planting. This small species also needs enough space! After the trumpet tree has been grafted, the half-trunk stops growing. Only the spherical crown forms stately and compact over time.

The trumpet-shaped, white flowers appear on panicles up to 15 centimeters long and are pure white. The fruit, reminiscent of cigars, is up to 30 centimeters long and does not fall off in winter. The leaves are thrown off in autumn. There is no foliage coloring.

Planting the Trumpet Tree - All information at a glance

Trumpet trees in their short stature have space in every garden. The spherical trumpet tree in particular has long been at home in our latitudes. Since the plants grow particularly slowly, they can also be cultivated very well in the tub for the first few years. However, the tree places some demands on its location and requires a lot of water.

❍ Location:

Plants gratefully accept a sunny location. Trumpet trees also thrive in partial shade. But then you have to make compromises in terms of growth and flowering. So that the branches do not buckle, you should also choose a location protected from the wind. A protected location is also advantageous for the wintering of the plant. There should also be no lack of space at the location of the plant, because even smaller species can reach heights of up to six meters.

Tip: Planted in groups, trumpet trees can serve as natural shade.

❍ floor:

Even when choosing the substrate, the plant is not undemanding. The soil should be fresh and rich in nutrients. A sand-clay mixture with a pH between 7 and 8 is ideal. You can increase the nutrient content of the soil with a compost at planting time. You also have to keep the soil evenly moist.

❍ planting:

If you want to plant a trumpet tree in your garden, early spring is the perfect time for it. The best way to plant is as follows:

❶ Let the root ball soak with water before planting.
❷ Raise the planting hole twice the size of the root ball.
❸ Use the plant without damaging the roots.
❹ Place a wooden post in the planting hole as a support and tie the tree to it.
❺ Finally close the planting hole and water the plant sufficiently.

How to properly water trumpet trees

The trumpet tree has adapted very well to our climatic conditions and is a fairly uncomplicated plant. If you want to enjoy your trumpet tree for a long time, you should water diligently, because the plant needs even moisture. You shouldn't overdo it, however, because waterlogging takes the plant badly and the roots quickly start to rot. Container plants have a higher water requirement. Always teach the coasters to prevent waterlogging.

On hot days, watering makes sense in the morning and evening. You should not water during the hot midday hours.

This is how trumpet trees are properly fertilized

So that the plant grows well, you can give slow-release fertilizers after planting. If you mix compost with the substrate in spring, the plant is usually sufficiently supplied with nutrients. Container plants should be supplied with a commercially available complete fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season, which you add to the irrigation water.

Tip: If the leaves lose their lush green color, the plant lacks nutrients and should be fertilized as soon as possible.

Do trumpet trees tolerate pruning?

The common trumpet tree can grow up to 18 meters in height. A cut back is still possible without any problems. After winter you can e.g. Cut out old and brittle branches. Another cut is possible at the end of the growth phase, i.e. in early autumn. You should only make a radical cut on sunny and dry days. Then the wound closure is accelerated. When pruning you should always pay attention to the natural growth direction of the trumpet tree. If the pruning is done on asymmetrical leaves, you can achieve early flowering.

The globular trumpet trees commonly found in the gardens are a refinement of the common trumpet tree. The basis for the refinement is the half-trunk. The globular trees should be shaped every spring. You only need to thin out older plants in autumn so that the branches do not become covered.

How can trumpet trees be propagated?

The plant can be propagated by seeds or offshoots. These are the two easiest ways. The following explains exactly how to proceed with both methods.

Durch Propagation by seeds:

The seeds are sown in spring in the field. Patience is required here, as the plant sprouts very late, as already mentioned. Young plants need a lot of water, support and winter protection.

You can also use the seeds to grow new plants indoors. For this you should let the seeds soak in water for some time and then plant them in moist soil. Then cover the seeds about five millimeters with soil and water them liberally. The first shoots should appear after about 1.5 months. A cover made of foil, plastic or glass accelerates the germination time. When repotting the seedlings, you have to be careful not to damage the delicate roots.

❍ Propagation by offshoot:

Offshoots often form on older plants. These arise from branches that reach down to the earth and have roots there. You can remove the offshoots from the ground and reinsert them elsewhere.

Hibernate trumpet trees properly - that's how it's done

Over time, the trumpet tree has adapted very well to our climatic conditions and can almost be classified as winter-proof. However, young plants still need some help to get through the cold season well. You can e.g. wrap with foil or garden fleece. Since the bark can tear open in cold and dry winter days, you should prevent and help with a lime coat. If the trunk is painted white, it will be spared this frost damage.

Plants in pots should be brought into the house because potted plants are more susceptible to frost damage. It is best to bring them in a cool and bright room.

By the way: Up to the age of five, one speaks of young plants that need winter protection.

Identify and combat diseases and pests in the trumpet tree

© balakleypb -

The plant appears generally quite robust, but this does not completely protect the trumpet tree from pests and diseases. You might be dealing with the following pests and diseases:

❍ Mildew:

If the plant is too moist, the risk of powdery mildew is high. The disease can be recognized by a mealy coating on the leaves. You can easily strip it off initially. Later the leaves curl up, wither and fall off. Milk or whey diluted in water are a good home remedy. Simply spray the plant with the solution several times a week.

❍ Verticillium wilt:

This mushroom proves to be particularly aggressive and for the plant, any help is usually too late. The disease is often recognized too late and changes to the leaves are attributed to maintenance errors. The fungus can be recognized by yellow leaves, which curl and eventually fall off. It prevents the supply of nutrients, which means that the plant can no longer transport water and dies.

To prevent infestation, you should always choose fresh, nutrient-rich soil when planting and water regularly and moderately but fertilize. If the trumpet tree is nevertheless attacked, you should cut it back radically. However, do not dispose of the infected parts of the plant on the compost, otherwise the disease will spread. You must also disinfect used garden tools.

❍ Crust fungus:

This mushroom is also particularly insidious because it attacks the roots and cannot be identified at first. The crust fungus can be seen in the course of conspicuously light-colored fruiting bodies, which gradually rot. Again, you can only prevent this by choosing the right location and appropriate care. So far there are no effective antidotes, which is why the trumpet tree will unfortunately die off.

❍ aphids:

Aphids work on the leaves of the trumpet tree. They are easy to recognize and can be collected from the plant. It is best to do this in the early morning. You can also effectively combat the pests in an environmentally friendly manner with soapy water, garlic brew (make the garlic brew yourself) or nettle slurry (make the nettle brew yourself).

❍ Spider mites:

The action against spider mites is less effective. These can weaken the plants in the long term and, unfortunately, can often only be sold with chemical pesticides.

❍ snails:

The trumpet tree is also haunted by snails. Young plants are particularly affected. The snails climb the stems and eat the leaves. You can easily collect the snails by hand. Instead of spreading the aggressive slug pellet, you can also put a ring of pine twigs, gravel, coffee grounds or cat litter around the trunk, as these agents are an obstacle for the snails. Here are more tips against snails in the garden.

Summary of the best care tips for the trumpet tree