Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sign of Spring

There are certain signs of spring in the garden.  For most, it is the crocus.  That's not it for my garden.  I planted crocus bulbs for the first time in my garden this past fall.

For others, the tulip blooms are the first start of spring.  No tulip bulbs in my garden.  They don't get the cold they need, and I am too lazy to dig them up every year just to put them in the refrigerator and replant them again.

So, what plant tells me spring is here?  What plant do I stare at for a sign of spring approaching?

The humble crossvine:

Crossvine - Bignonia capreolata

The crossvine is the first to bloom in my garden.  The story goes that the crossvine blooms so early in order to feed migrating hummingbirds on their way back north.  Isn't that a comforting thought?  It's true that when the crossvine blooms I start to see hummingbirds.  The blooms are my cue to begin putting out hummingbird feeders.  What a welcoming sight those blooms must be for the hungry hummingbirds.

If you want to grow crossvine, here are some things you might want to know:

1)  The crossvine won't bloom until it reaches the top of what it's growing upon.  Honestly, I don't know if this myth is true, but it was for me.  I have mine growing up the garage, and it took almost 3 years to finally bloom!  I'm not generally patient, and I almost pulled it up.  I'm glad I didn't.  It was worth the wait.

Don't know where you'd put a crossvine?  I've seen pictures of crossvines growing up trees, and I am seriously thinking of planting some this way.  Can you imagine an entire tree bejeweled in orange?  And hummingbirds?  :)

2)  A native to southern U.S., crossvine can grow in a number of soil, moisture, and temperature conditions. I don't coddle mine at all.  They are not easily found at gardening centers, so if you see one and you want it, grab it!  Or you may have to order it by mail.  Grows in zones 6 to 9.

3)  A woody stemmed vine, I think this is the perfect substitute for wisteria.  I seriously covet the beautiful sight of wisteria, but I've seen it taking over entire forests and refuse to grow it here.  Yes, I know there's different types.  Still, I'll stick with crossvine.

February is usually the time I begin to stare at the crossvine.  When I see the first blooms, that for me is the start of spring.  I'll let you know when that happens!

What plant's bloom says "Spring is Here" in your garden?


  1. Dear HG, I love this posting. It makes me wish I could grow crossvine in my zone 5 garden. The first sign of spring here is the budding hellebore. But with deep snow covering everything, and more freezing temps forecast, it will be some time before I see them. I look forward to sharing your spring when your crossvine blooms. Please tell those hummingbirds to hurry north to my garden. P x

  2. Pam - haha I wish I could hurry the hummingbirds along! I planted some hellebores last fall, but am not sure if/when they will come up. I have honestly never seen hellebores in Texas, but just had to give them a try.


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