Cypress vine cardinal climber

Cypress Vine and Cardinal Climber Attract Hummingbirds

It’s what every garden needs: a climbing plant that attracts hummingbirds.


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Easy to grow and easy to find, Cypress Vine and Cardinal Climber plants are a preferred choice if your goal is a garden that hosts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Seed packets are usually available in local nurseries in the spring or available on line. Plant seeds directly in the ground in very early spring or soak the seeds overnight if planting once the weather has warmed up.
Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) is a lacy, delicate-looking annual vine available in a variety of flower colors, including red.
Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
Posted by vic
Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
Posted by SongofJoy

Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri) has red flowers and sturdier looking leaves, but it is just as pretty as Cypress Vine. I have found the Cardinal Climber vines much more vigorous and able to cover a larger area than the delicate looking Cypress Vine.
Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri)
Posted by vic
Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri)
Posted by chelle

Choose either of these lovely vines or plant both for continuous blooms from late spring through fall.

Cardinal climber, Ipomoea sloteri.

Cardinal climber is a hybrid plant, an allotetraploid created by Logan Sloter of Columbus, Ohio who crossed (by hand pollination) red morning glory (Ipomoea coccinea) and cypress vine (I. quamoclit, as the pollen parent), both native to Central and South America. He made this cross every season starting in 1897, but all of the few specimens produced were absolutely seedless. It took eleven years before one of the hybrid plants produced a single seed in 1908. When planted the following year, that single seed grew into a plant that produced about 500 seeds, but the progeny could not be crossed with either of the parents or any other Ipomoeas. This hybrid, descended from this single plant, reproduces true from seed, with very few deviations from the parent. Initially called I. x multifida (and still often offered under that name), it is now correctly called I. sloteri.

Cypress vine, Ipomoea quamoclit, one of the parents of cardinal vine and its flower (inset).

Confusingly, in some areas it goes by the common name of cypress vine (also the common name of one parent plant), or other monikers including morning glory or hearts and honey vine. This frost tender annual heirloom vine in the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae) has been grown as an ornamental for over 100 years both for its attractive foliage and prolific flowers.

The alternate leaves of cardinal climber are halfway between the finely divided, feathery leaves of cypress vine and the entire, heart-shaped leaves of red morning glory. The triangular, medium green leaves are multiply divided into numerous deep, narrow lobes of varying numbers (usually 3-7 pairs plus one wider terminal lobe), almost resembling little palm leaves and giving a lacy appearance to the foliage. This vigorous, twining tropical plant grows up to 10 feet long, growing slowly under cool conditions, then rapidly growing and blooming in hot, humid weather. The slender, flattened stems intertwine and tangle amongst themselves or whatever they are rambling up or over.

The leaves of cardinal climber (L and C) and the more finely divided leaves of cypress vine, Ipomoea quamoclit (R).

A ruby-throated hummingbird feeds from a cardinal flower.

Cardinal vine begins blooming in mid-summer and continues until the plant is killed by frost. Like both parent species, cardinal climber produces vivid, bright red, trumpet-shaped flowers with yellow or white throats (although cypress vine may also have pink or white flowers). The five overlapping petals of the inch long flowers are flared at end (a salverform corolla), forming a pentagon shape (cypress vine flowers are more star-shaped) from which the five white to yellow stamens and a single 1 to 2-lobed style with globular stigma protrude. The nectar-producing flowers are attractive to ruby throated hummingbirds, as well as bees and some butterflies, and close up at night.

The flowers of cardinal vine (L) are trumpet-shaped with a pentagonal shape (LC) which reflexes back as the flower ages (RC) and finally sheds, leaving the developing fruit behind (R).

The irregularly-shaped dark brown seeds (magnified).

Flowers are followed by fruits which are ovoid capsules. Each rounded green capsule eventually dries to a papery brown cover over 2-4 hard seeds. The irregularly-shaped mature dark brown to black seeds resemble a typical morning glory seed. To save seeds to plant the following year, allow the seed pods to dry on the plants and collect the brown pods before they split open and release the seeds. It will not reseed in cold climates (but will readily in warmer areas). Seeds are highly toxic if ingested.

Place cardinal climber near a trellis, arbor or other structure it can climb. Or use it as a dense groundcover or plant it near plants that will decline by mid-summer (such as breadseed poppy) so it will scramble over and cover the other plants. Cardinal climber can even be grown in a container (but may overwhelm any other plants in the container even if given a support to climb) or a hanging basket where the vines will eventually cascade back down after climbing upwards.

Cardinal vine grows quickly from a small plant (L), to cover a freestanding trellis (C) or on the side of a house (R).

Grow cardinal climber in full sun in any well-drained soil. Although it will tolerate dry soil, provide regular water for the best growth, and fertilize only if the soil is very poor. The vines can be trimmed, but do not need regular pruning, and the flowers do not need deadheading. This plant has no significant diseases or insect pests, but rabbits and deer may feed on them.

Cardinal climber is an annual propagated from seed. To enhance germination, scarify (nick with a knife or use sandpaper to abrade the hard exterior) the large seeds and/or soak them in warm water overnight before sowing. Seeds treated this way should germination in a week or two. This vine can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost, but like most plants in the morning glory family it doesn’t like to have its roots disturbed, so it is often sown directly in the ground after all danger of frost is past and the soil is warm. Place the seeds about a quarter inch deep in the soil and space 6-12” apart.

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison

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Cypress vine Red seeds 20 seed pack

Cypress vine Easy to grow, Cypress Vine deserves wider use in American gardens. After all, it quickly reaches up to 25 feet long, with handsome fern-like foliage and brilliant blooms that keep coming for months.

Cypress vine A fine screen or barrier planting, this vine offers lush, dense foliage dotted with neat, 5-pointed star-shaped blooms. The flowers have long trumpet-shaped throats, perfect for visiting pollinators, and are studded among the foliage like bright jewels. So showy!

Cypress vine In this mix you get rich red, soft rosy-pink, All grow readily on this sun-lover, which is not picky about soil type and loves to blanket fences and climb structures. You will love Cypress Vine, and return to it again and again for a long season of great coverage and bright color for the sunny garden. Packet is 30 seeds. Cannot ship to AZ.

Ipomoea is the botanical name for Morning Glory
Ipomoea Germination Information

How to Sow Ipomoea:

  • Best sown indoors, 4-6 weeks before planting out, at alternating temperatures of 68° and 86°
  • Expect germination in 8-10 days
  • Outdoors, seeds may be sown, after all danger of frost is past in the spring, when the soil is warm
  • Outdoors, expect germination in 12-17 days
  • Soak the seed in warm water for 24 hours prior to sowing or clip or notch the seeds
  • If sowing seed outdoors, we recommend a maximum planting depth of 4X the width of the seed

How to Grow Ipomoea:
Transplanting: Transplant when there are at least two sets of true leaves. Transplant carefully, as it resents being disturbed

Spacing: Plant out 12-15 inches apart in an acidic, rich, moist, well-drained soil in full to partial shade

Soil: Plant in moist, well-drained soil. Very tolerant of poor soils. Water often but avoid high levels of nitrogen

Lighting: Site plant in an area that has full sunlight.

Additional Care: Plants will copiously self-sow around the garden and can become weedy

Appearance and Use:

Ipomoea leptophylla, Bush Morning Glory, grows 3 feet tall and has 3 inch flowers that open a rosy purple and mature a deep purple. It works well nestled in borders. Ipomoea nil, I. purpurea, and I. tricolor are 8-10 foot long, climbing vines to be grown on a structure: trellis, fence, or arbor. The showy single or double flowers come in colors of blue, purple, pink, red, or white and are either solid, striped, or bicolor. For the duration of the summer (July through frost), the above species’ flowers open in the early morning and fade by the afternoon. The leaves are all green and heart shaped

Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)

When my cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) is blooming, it is covered in tiny, star-shaped, brilliantly red flowers. Although they are tiny, the flowers really stand out against the light green of the leaves and vine.

My favorite part about the cypress vine is its dainty, feather-like leaves. The leaves look so fragile and fairy-like that, even when it isn’t blooming, this vine puts on a little show.

But don’t be fooled by the delicate appearance of its leaves, this vine is pretty strong and it can be aggressive. It grows rapidly and may cover nearby plants or structures.

Cypress vine produces so many seeds that you will soon have twenty vines where you only planted one. The following year, there will be vines popping up in the nearby soil, so be ready to pull them out where they are not wanted before they overgrow the surrounding plants.

Invasive or Not? It Depends on the Garden

Despite its fast growth rate and how much it spreads through seed dispersal, I have always liked this vine. My advice is to plant it in a place where you can mow around it to contain the growth of new vines or plant it in a place where you won’t mind if it spreads a bit.

This year, my cypress vine is planted in a container and growing up a trellis. It is adjacent to a flower bed which may have some seedlings in it the following year, but I don’t mind just pulling those out. If you plant the vine, you will need to have a plan to keep it contained so that it does not spread throughout your garden.

Cypress vine is native to Central and South America and is considered invasive in some states. Before you add it to your garden, check with your local extension service office to find out whether it is listed as an invasive species in your area.

How to Grow Cypress Vine

Cypress vine is probably one of the easiest plants to grow here in zone 7b. It can be grown in zones 6 though 9 and it will die over the winter, but I usually see more growing the following year from self-seeding.

Plant your vine in full sun for best results, though it will tolerate part-shade, and provide it a structure to climb on – usually a trellis or even an arbor. You’ll need to train the vine to climb where you want it or it will spread onto everything around it. So, check it daily to wind errant strands onto the climbing structure and away from other plants.

It prefers well-drained but evenly moist soil but it can grow in most soil types after it has been established. In drought-prone areas or in sandy or clay soil, mulch the base to keep it more evenly moist. Water the vine when you see it wilting. In my zone, we get enough rain that I don’t water it much except when I have it planted in a container. Then I have to water it every few days to keep it from wilting.

Wildlife Benefits of Cypress Vine

Cypress vines produce flowers for several months – starting in spring and continuing through the fall. It is early November and mine is still blooming.

Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the tiny star-shaped red flowers. I have watched a ruby-throated hummingbird flit from flower to flower on this vine, sipping on their nectar.

Combine that with the bright red flowers and feathery leaves and it’s worth the work to contain it just to have it in my garden.

Cypress Vine Care: Tips On Growing Cypress Vines

Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) has thin, thread-like leaves that give the plant a light, airy texture. It is usually grown against a trellis or pole, which it climbs by twining itself around the structure. The star-shaped flowers bloom all summer and into fall in red, pink or white. Hummingbirds and butterflies love to sip nectar from the flowers, and the plant is often referred to as a hummingbird vine. Read on for cypress vine info that will help you decide if this plant is right for your garden and how to grow it.

What is Morning Glory Cypress Vine?

Cypress vines are members of the morning glory family. They share many characteristics with the more familiar morning glory, although the appearance of the foliage and flowers is quite different.

Cypress vines are usually grown as annuals, even though they are technically perennials in frost-free areas of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. In USDA zones 6 through 9, they may return year after year from seeds dropped by the previous season’s plants.

How to Care for Cypress Vines

Plant cypress vine seeds near a trellis or other structure that the vines can climb when the soil is warm, or start them indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected frost. Keep the soil moist until the seedlings are well-established. The plants can withstand brief dry spells, but they grow best with plenty of moisture.

Organic mulch helps keep the soil evenly moist and may prevent seeds from taking root where they fall. If left to take root at will, cypress vines become weedy.

Fertilize just before the first blossoms appear with a high phosphorus fertilizer.

An important part of cypress vine care is training the young vines to climb by wrapping the stems around the supporting structure. Cypress vines sometimes try to grow out rather than up, and the 10-foot vines can overtake nearby plants. In addition, the vines are a bit fragile and may break if they stray from their support.

Cypress vines grow with abandon in the Southeastern U.S., and in many areas they are considered invasive weeds. Use this plant responsibly and take steps to limit its spread when growing cypress vines in areas where they tend to become invasive.

Ipomoea sloteri

Cardinal climber, I. sloteri, is a tender annual vine with red, trumpet-like flowers in the Convolvulaceae family that’s easy to grow and provides sprawling color from summer to frost. It grows fast and is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.

In this article, you will learn how to cultivate this species at home.

Cultivation and History

Cardinal climber is a cultivated species that was never wild.

It’s an easygoing plant that likes full sun but will tolerate part shade. Poor to average soil with a nearly neutral pH, an inch of water a week, and good drainage are all that’s needed for cultivation. Topping out at six to 12 feet, it likes to have room to roam.

I. sloteri originated in 1897 when a man named Logan Sloter crossed a red morning glory, I. coccinea, with a cypress vine, I. quamoclit. He did this manually and took every precaution to protect the plants from contact with any other pollen.

Eleven years later, one of the plants finally produced a seed – just one! It was subsequently planted and produced over 500 more, and a new species was born.

Noted botanist L.H. Bailey recognized the plant some years later in one of his scientific journals, Gentes Herbarum, Vol. 1. Fasc. 3, 1923. In it, he referred to a letter he had received from Sloter, stating that this was not just a “chance hybrid.” Bailey was actively cultivating the species himself at this point and published a photo of it.

Sloter’s attempts to cross I. sloteri with each of its parent plants were unsuccessful.

The I. sloteri hybrid is unique because it has four sets of chromosomes, two from each parent, qualifying it as an allotetraploid, whereas most flowering plants are diploids, with one set from each. The botanical implications are beyond the scope of this article.

You may find cardinal climber listed botanically as Quamoclit sloteri, Ipomoea (Quamoclit) sloteri, and I. x multifida.

In addition, the cypress vine, I. quamoclit, one parent of this hybrid, is also called cardinal climber.

The prominent features of both of cardinal climber’s parent plants are quite visible in the hybrid. Its leaves are heart-shaped like the morning glory, and feathery like the cypress. Its flowers have the pentagonal perimeter of a morning glory with the smaller diameter and deep trumpet of the cypress.

Like the cypress vine, I. sloteri’s blossoms are approximately one inch across, unlike those of morning glory, which average over two inches. Plants may reach a height of six to 12 feet tall when given room to spread. Be aware that they may become invasive, as this is a self-sower.


To cultivate this plant on your property, you’ll need to start with seed. It is a self-sower, so in warmer regions, you may find that it not only comes up again next year, it may be so prolific that it becomes invasive.

Deadheading prior to seed formation is a way to slow self-propagation, but this vine produces many blossoms each day throughout the growing season, and the task is a daunting one.

An advantage of growing cardinal climber over cypress vine, is that you can interplant it with both cypress vine and morning glory, members of the same family, without encountering cross-pollination and potential changes to its characteristics.

How to Grow

Growing cardinal climber is easy. You may begin ahead of the last frost, or just after. Here’s how:

  1. Start seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date.
  2. Scarify seeds with a nail file and soak overnight.
  3. Fill an egg carton with potting medium or use seed starter blocks.
  4. Place several seeds in each cell/block.
  5. Cover the seeds lightly with about 1/4-inch potting medium.
  6. Keep the medium evenly moist, but not soggy.
  7. When seedlings have one set of true leaves, thin them out and retain the strongest one in each cell/block.
  8. Prepare your garden by digging down about six inches, working the soil loose, and removing all weeds.
  9. Transplant entire cells/ blocks into the garden or large containers with a depth of at least 12 inches. Do not handle the seedlings, as the roots are especially fragile.
  10. Leave a space of six to 12 inches between plants.
  11. Alternatively, you may direct sow after the danger of frost has passed.
  12. Maintain even moisture until plants are established, about an inch per week. Do not fertilize.
  13. Provide support for growing vines such as an arbor, fence, or trellis.
  14. Once established, plants should require no intervention.

Growing Tips:

  • Maintain even, but not soggy moisture during the germination, seedling, and transplant stages.
  • Transplant entire seed starter cells or blocks to avoid damaging fragile roots.
  • Allow ample room to roam.
  • Be prepared for potentially invasive growth, as this plant is a vigorous grower and self-sower.
  • Do not apply fertilizer. Morning glory-type vines thrive on neglect, and often fail to flower optimally in soil that’s too organically rich.

Where to Buy

I. sloteri seeds are available from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce, 1-pound, and 1/4-pound packages.

Cardinal Climber Seeds via Eden Brothers

You’ll notice that the botanical name listed in the product entry is “Ipomoea x multifida,” which as we mentioned is a synonym for I. sloteri.

Concerning Cultivars

There are no cultivars of I. sloteri. Every package of seeds that bears this botanical name or one of its synonyms will produce the same richly saturated red, pentagonal blossoms and palm-like leaves of the original hybrid seed.

However, cypress vine, the other cardinal climber, has cultivars such as I. quamoclit ‘Alba’, which has a white blossom, as well as pink and red varieties.

Managing Pests and Disease

There are no pest or insect problems specific to this species.

This is a dense, robust grower that leaves little room for weed growth. Therefore, competition for water that may weaken plants, reduced airflow that raises humidity and invites fungus, and the potential for insect infestation are not generally a problem.

In addition, oversaturation that also invites fungus is unlikely with seeds sown in a location or container that drains well.

Quick Reference Growing Chart

Plant Type: Cultivated tender annual vine Flower Color: Deep red
Hardiness (USDA Zone): Short-lived tender perennial in Zones 8-10; annual in Zones 3-7 Soil Type: Poor to average
Bloom Time: Summer to frost Soil pH: Nearly neutral, 6.1-7.8
Exposure: Full sun to part shade Soil Drainage: Well-draining
Time to Maturity: 70 days Companion Planting: Morning glories, cypress vine
Spacing: 6-12 inches Uses: Flowering vines for arbors, trellises, and fences; hiding eyesores; ground cover
Planting Depth: 1/4 inch Family: Convolvulaceae
Height: 8-10 feet Subfamily: Ipomoeae
Maintenance: Minimal Genus: Ipomoea
Water Needs: Minimal Species: I. sloteri
Tolerance: Drought, deer
Attracts: Birds, butterflies, bees
Pests & Diseases: None

NOTE: The seeds of this plant are highly toxic to humans and pets, and its vines may be invasive.

Best Uses

Cardinal climber grows equally well in the garden and in containers with a depth of about twelve inches. It seeks support as it matures, attaching itself to whatever is in its path. Direct fledgling vines up and onto a structure to create a decorative, intertwined display.

Alternatively, allow vines to creep in a horizontal direction so they may grow as a groundcover.


Seed savers will be happy to know that I. sloteri produces true from seed.

You may harvest seed at the end of the growing season by collecting the brown pods before they crack and disperse their contents.

Simply rub them between your thumb and index finger and collect the dropping seeds in a bowl. Remove all chaff and place the thoroughly dry seeds an airtight jar, envelope, or zippered plastic bag. Store in a cool, dry place.

A Vigorous Problem-Solver

Plan now to make cardinal flower part of your outdoor living space. Purchase quality seed and sow it in a location where it can spread without restraint.

It’s also a fast-growing option for troublesome areas. Consider using it to:

  • Camouflage a rusty chain link fence.
  • Create a privacy screen using lattice or a trellis.
  • Decorate porch posts that have seen better days.

With a few seeds and a little imagination, cardinal flower is sure to earn its keep, adding color and interest to your gardening scheme from summer to frost.

If you found this article informative, you’re sure to enjoy:

  • 15 of The Best Annuals for Vivid Fall Color
  • Native Vines for Your Landscape
  • The 15 Best Annuals for Late Summer Color


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© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Eden Brothers. Uncredited photos: .

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

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