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.
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' 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.
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.'