Cardinal Climber

As the name suggests, this twining vine enthusiastically climbs up trellises and arbors.

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Cardinal Climber Overview

Description Cardinal climber, a hybrid cross between cypress vine and morning glory, is a fast-growing vine with lacy, fernlike foliage and bright red blossoms. The trumpet-shape flowers (which resemble those of morning glory) begin appearing in midsummer and continue to bloom until the first frost.
Genus Name Ipomoea sloteri
Common Name Cardinal Climber
Plant Type Annual, Vine
Light Sun
Height 3 to 8 feet
Width null to 8 feet
Flower Color Red
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings


All parts of cardinal climber are toxic (even hallucinogenic) to humans, cats, and dogs. The seeds are especially toxic and should never be ingested. Don't plant cardinal climber in a garden that will be visited by young children or pets.

Where to Plant Cardinal Climber

Plant this annual vine at the base of an arbor or trellis in a foundation garden or near a patio where you can enjoy the antics of hummingbirds and butterflies. Cardinal climber is a good choice for containers, too, but it needs support so it doesn't overrun other plants in the pot. This vine will attach to trees and shrubs, so make sure that's the look you have in mind when you plant it next to such specimens.

Cardinal Climber Care Tips

Cardinal climber scrambles up trellises and arbors, and across fences when planted in full sun and well-drained soil. It tolerates a variety of soil conditions, from nutrient-poor sandy soil to rich loam. This easy-to-grow vine also tolerates dry conditions but grows best with regular deep waterings, especially during extended dry periods. It seldom requires fertilizer, and it doesn't need deadheading.

Cardinal climber is an enthusiastic self-seeder, so keep your eyes open for small, round seed pods inside papery brown covers in late fall. Store the pods inside a clean, dry jar in a cool spot until you're ready to plant them. If you decide to buy seeds at a retail outlet, carefully read the packaging to make sure you aren't buying seeds for cardinal climber's cousin: the cypress vine. For clarity in shopping, look for the Latin name Ipomoea x sloteri.

Prepare seeds for germination by soaking them in warm water for 24 hours before planting them in the garden. The warm water soak will soften the seed coat, making it easier for the root and stem to emerge. Cover the seeds with ¼ inch of soil, then keep the seedbed moist until they sprout. Cardinal climber can be started indoors four to six weeks before the last frost in spring, but keep in mind it dislikes having its roots disturbed by transplanting. This vine usually does best when planted directly in the garden. Cardinal climber is a fast grower, so whether planting in the garden or a container, put a trellis in place soon after seeding.

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