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'Cardinal Climber' Vine Ipomoea sloteri

Cardinal Climber , Ipomoea sloteri, is a hybrid of Ipomoea quamoclit, 'Cypress Vine,' and Ipomoea coccinea. A synonym for Ipomoea sloteri is Ipomoea x multifida. Cardinal Climber vine is a member of the morning glory family. The deeply cut leaves, deep red blooms festoon vines that can grow up to 15 feet in length.
Cardinal Climber vine, Cardinal Climber pictures, Red Cardinal Climber vine flower

The scarlet flowers of 'Cardinal Climber'  attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. The annual vine blooms from mid to late summer and into fall before being killed by the first frost.

Cardinal Climber vine, Ipomoea sloteri, Cardinal Climber care,

Here is a lateral view of the trumpet shaped flowers of 'Cardinal Climber' vine.

The leaves are just as attractive as the blooms, in my opinion. They look like they've been cut with a scalpel. They have the overall heart shape of Ipomoea coccinea but the divided leaf characteristic of Ipomoea quamoclit. It has the best characteristics of each parent's leaf.

Cardinal Climber leaf, Ipomoea sloteri,Cardinal Climber invasive

'Cardinal Climber' doesn't require much care, it tolerates heat and humidity well in my garden. Like many others in the morning glory family it has the potential to become invasive in warmer climates. In my garden (Zone 5) there isn't much danger for it to become a nuisance because I keep it in check by providing it with less than ideal conditions. I do this by only planting a few seeds of 'Cardinal Climber' at a time, growing it in a shady spot and not watering it very much. Caring for 'Cardinal Climber' this way allows me to control the number of flowers and hence the number of seeds.

'Cardinal Climber' and 'Cypress Vine' are mixed-up a lot. Mostly because we hobby gardeners have the habit of tossing around common names and passing on plants and seeds with common names given to us. My 'Cardinal Climber' seeds were packaged and sold by Burpee. When I purchased the 'Cardinal Climber' seeds I mentioned that they were labeled as 'Cypress Vine' when the picture showed 'Cardinal Climber.' One of Burpee's seed packets even listed the botanical name, Ipomoea quamoclit, for 'Cypress Vine.' You can see the picture of the 'Cardinal Climber' vine seed packs for yourself. On page 30 of Burpee's 2010 seed catalog the seeds listed but they were labeled 'Cardinal Climber.' I sent a message through Burpee's PR department and this is the response I got from George C. Ball Jr., owner of the W. Atlee Burpee Company.

“The two common names, Cypress Vine and Cardinal Climber, have been used widely an interchangeably in the trade for many years.

Currently the plant is more widely known as ‘Cypress Vine’ than as the other acceptable common name, ‘Cardinal Climber’. To best serve our customers, we use both names on the Heirloom packets."

Now, I'm just a hobby gardener with a blog, but I don't think 'everyone else does it' is the correct answer. Also, a Google image search clearly shows that the 'Cardinal Climber' is indeed not better known as 'Cypress Vine.' The vast majority of pictures are for Ipomoea quamoclit and for 'Cypress Vine' are the same. Now do a search for 'Cardinal Climber' and one for Ipomoea sloteri. Go, do it. I'll wait.

Are you back?

Do you see what I mean? As a Burpee customer I think I'd be better served by the seed packets being properly labeled. Their heirloom seed pack uses both, 'Cypress Vine' and 'Cardinal Climber' as common names. To make matters worse, the Burpee heirloom seed pack uses Ipomoea quamoclit. How can 'Cardinal Climber' be Ipomoea quamoclit when one of the parents of 'Cardinal Climber' is Ipomoea quamoclit? There seems to be a discrepancy that I wasn't able to properly communicate to Mr. Ball in my Email.

Cardinal Climber vine flower

So, how do you identify 'Cardinal Climber' vine from 'Cypress Vine' in the garden? The easiest way to identify them is by comparing the two flowers.'Cypress Vine' flowers are clearly more star-shaped, as you can see from the 'Cypress Vine' pictures in that post. Compare that photo with the 'Cardinal Climber' picture above. Another characteristic you can identify it by is in the leaves. The foliage for 'Cypress Vine' is softer and more fern-like. Compare the leaves in the background with the picture of the 'Cardinal Climber' leaf above.

They're both great annual vines, but there are clearly differences between the two. If you live in a climate where 'Cardinal Climber' will not grow aggressively I'd recommend growing it in your garden to provide beautiful flowers that attract pollinators and create a living privacy screen. Saving seeds from your 'Cardinal Climber' vine is the same as saving seeds from 'Cypress Vine.'


  1. You're totally right that they look completely different. They should be more concerned about correctly labeling the flowers. I'm trying to refrain from buying from Burpee lately. I've had so-so results from their seeds. The germination rate, from my experience wasn't so high.

  2. Wow MBT, what a discover! Glad to know. Thanks for sharing the details.

    The red colour/shade of cardinal climber flower is simply gorgeous and attractive. I am sure this plant will stand out from the rest of the plants in any garden.

  3. I have just the fence that needs a bit of Cardinal Climber next year. Thanks for the clarification.

  4. LOL, I did that search a few years back and had the same reaction as you. It also bums me out when seed companies don't list Latin names (or if they do, not quamoclit which confused me as well) --or if they list the wrong one. I prefer the cypress vine personally, but it's nice to know what you're getting. I mean, duh. Why wouldn't I want to know that?

  5. @Meemsnyc, I've actually had pretty good results with the germination rates of Burpee seeds, that I don't have a problem with. My issue is with just this one particular seed labeling. Maybe in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter, but as someone who grows from seed and encourages others to grow from seed it matters a lot to me.

    @Stephanie, Glad you like it. I think you have a lot of awesome blooms in your garden and one of these Ipomoeas would be a nice addition. Although, you probably have some incredible native vines that would look better than this one in your garden

    @Webb, You're welcomed, hope it does well in your garden.

    @Monica, Ha! I think everyone who has ever grown either of these has probably fallen down the same rabbit hole of research. A quick search of the internet shows a lot of people trying to ID which one they have because they either bought seeds or were gifted seeds with the common names mixed up. I think for the most part seed companies do a good job of labeling them with the appropriate common name. At least from my research.

  6. Ohhh. I may have to try this vine in my garden - even though it may turn into an invasive pest! It's a beauty! I'll just blame you if it gets out of control. ;) Kidding.

  7. What a fun & informative post!

    Approximately 9 zillion Cypress Vine/Ipomoea quamoclit seedlings appear in my garden every year, Mr Brown Thumb. But if I were crazy enough to want to try a Cardinal Climber/Ipomoea sloteri just for a little variety it might be very important to have the right name on the package ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. With such a striking colour,I am most tempted to attempt planting ipomea again. I tried planting once from a packet of ipomea seeds and I got many different colours but the plants were all very weak-bodied.

  9. I ran into them in person for the first time last year - they're beautiful.

    I'm with you MBT, and prefer that seed companies put forth reasonable effort to properly label their seeds, in recognition of their customers' legitimate desire to know what they're buying.

  10. @Angela, Just don't blame me if they take over? If you do grow them make sure to either pinch as many of the old blooms as possible or collect the seeds before they fall.

    @Annie in Austin, I love how yours look in your garden. Maybe you should get into the Cypress Vine seed selling business. Gardeners like myself are paying $2.00 a seed pack for your "weeds." :0) [Note] Check out Annie's Cypress Vine in this post:

    @Elsie Xie, Sorry to hear that your experience with them wasn't so great. Do you think the seed source was bad or did it have something to do with the plants themselves?

    @Garden Girl, Glad I'm not alone. I'm starting to feel like someone with too much time on their hands every time I blog about this seed packet from Burpee.

  11. Uh, oh! I just discovered the answer to my question in one of your responses shown above. I'm a first-time Cardinal Climber grower this year, in a pot along my patio fence, and it's already growing like gangbusters. Am trying to retain the interest of the hummingbirds which have been coming to a feeder at my kitchen window for the past couple of years. Now I realize I will need to clip the blooms and try to keep potential seed proliferation in check. But I know the hummers will love it.

  12. @MyTwoCents, Yeah, it is a wonderful plants, but do keep your eye on the seed pods forming if you don't want a lot of them growing everywhere.

  13. Anonymous8:28 AM

    Is the cardinal climber considered a native wildflower? Is it native to Kentucky? Do conservationist in Kentucky consider it invasive?

  14. Just ran into this doing a search. Fabulous article! But now I want BOTH.

  15. Anonymous12:18 PM


  16. Anonymous10:47 AM

    hi! im in DE, and have grown a vine fence incasing my front porch like curtains. now i grow 3 differnt kinds of morning glory, and moonflower, and am familliar with them, as this is the 5th year. however this year i have also added the night watchman, cup and saucer, and the cardinal climber. i am having a few really serios problems and if you could help me save my vines i would be eternally thankful. first, there is something like rust spot underneath the leaves starting on the left. i have used seven spray, which helps, but the next morning you can see where the spray killed the fungus ( i am assuming), but then it starts back up again. the disease is traveling now along my "curtains" but i have noticed that the cardinal climber is not getting the rust colored spots, even when all the other types around it are.

  17. jodylsmith23@gmail.com10:56 AM

    so i figured it was maybe a pH problem,and am testing the soil as we speak in intervals across the beds, then seeing if the pH of that area matches what the recommended leval of the vine growing there.but i just found out that the climber is poisonous lmao and i will tell you, very itchy. i will keep them there unless they are killing everything else. each vine has its own personality and im not sure if the reason the hollyock hasnt bloomed yet is because its next to something it doesnt like? i am just finding about brother and sister plants as well. the left curtain doesnt have any climbers, and the vines there arent covered in the yucky bumps. i could probably control the problem, but i want it GONE from my babies. ive been waiting all year to prove to my neighbors that im not nuts and wasnt decorating for halloween in june with all my fishing wire lol. plus it makes me sad that they are sick and i cant help them. i read this web site thing all the time and your advice is sound. anything will help if you have the time! thank you

  18. jodylsmith23@gmail.com5:27 PM

    hello? i dont know if i am doing this right? im the vine girl? did you get my question

  19. Anonymous10:01 AM

    help, I can't seem to make the vine grow, it struggles and has only grown 6 inches since I bought this plant. what do I need to feed this plant , I have sandy soil

  20. We live in the Yucatan an DJ planted these Cardinal climbers about three months ago and WOW. They are really taking off. I am having trouble collecting the seeds. Any recommendations? The flowers only last for one day due to the heat and humidity and the next day I have more flowers. Would love to get more seeds and start more plants in other locations. Thoughts, ideas?

  21. mliss1:45 PM

    I found this post while trying to figure out what appeared to me to be the same flower on vines with different foliage. I grew the cypress vine several years ago and fell in love with it as much as the hummingbirds did. Since then I have only found the cardinal climber, but this year, to my surprise, a cypress vine appeared in my sweet peas! This is one vine I would love to become invasive, I love it.

  22. Anonymous8:59 AM

    I'm a first-time vine gardener and have two Cardinal Climber plants which I planted late so they haven't started flowering yet. I bought a trellis for these not entirely knowing what I was doing. The slats (both horizontal and vertical) of the trellis are about an inch and a half wide and maybe 1/4" deep. Problem is that I'm not sure the plants like it, as they're not doing much twining so far. I have a feeling they need something thinner to twine around, or maybe simply something with the same width and depth rather than a wide slat.

    I notice that at one point one plant's stem just wound and twisted around itself in a convoluted fashion, and I have a feeling it did that because it doesn't have something thinner to twine around.

    Am I right? Are trellis slats like this too wide for Morning Glory family flowers? Do I need to give it something different to crawl up? If so, I might just screw in a lot of eye screws and thread some wire through them.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

  23. Anonymous8:47 PM

    Hi I have what my sister calls trumpet vines. There are numerous seed pods that look like giant green beans. How would I go about saving and planting the seeds? Ive tried to propagate one in the past and I had no luck. thank you, Donna

  24. Can anyone tell me why my cardinal creeper is loosing its leaves. I am in Brisbane Australia



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