~ 28yr old trumpet vine on pergola has suddenly wilted and dropped most of its leaves in 2nd week of August, in Toronto, sandy soil. Leaves get brown splotches on them then shrivel and drop. Approx 9 weeks ago, new fence/trellis posts of pressurized wood were put in with cement in new locations about 6-8″ further north than the original posts. So, I suppose it could be that the roots of the vine were damaged. Did my trumpet vine catch some sort of wilt virus or is it dying because of fence construction? Or has it dropped its leaves as a protective measure while it deals with root damage perhaps? What, if anything, can I do about this? It is a magnificent old vine and I’d be really sad to lose it.
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
I can certainly understand your desire to preserve a treasured vine on your pergola that is almost three decades old.
Do you know if your plant is the species (Campsis radicans) or another cultivar?
We do receive questions about trumpet vines somewhat often; however, they usually are about how to remove the vine or keep it in check since it is a rather aggressive grower.
It is difficult to ascertain the exact cause of the vine’s current distress, though it is possible that it could be due to root disturbance from construction. They may be likely since the plant is mature and would have significant roots by this point. Also, it is the most obvious difference from previous years. Another possibility could be that the roots were standing in water for some time during our late winter/early spring given the mix of rain and freezing temperatures earlier this year.
There is a chance the plant could bounce back next season, but perhaps as an insurance policy, you could pot up a sucker if you see any growing around the base, or propagate another from a cutting (if you can find a healthy part of the vine from which to take one). We have posted previously about propagating trumpet vines from cuttings, which you can find here:
Best of luck with your vine!