Cardinal Climber

Ipomoea sloteri

Cardinal climber
Vinayaraj / Wikimedia / CC By 3.0

Cardinal Climber lives up to its name. The blossoms are a true cardinal red and the vine reaches for whatever it can grab hold of. This is a very graceful, airy vine. It blooms profusely throughout the summer and the red, trumpet-shaped flowers are big favorites of hummingbirds.

  • Flowers: The tubular flowers are red, with a white throat. The 5 petals overlap to form a swept-back pentagon at the opening.
  • Leaves: Bright green leaves are triangular, with deep, narrow lobes that give them a lacy appearance.

Botanical Name

Ipomoea sloteri (Pronounced ih-poh-MEE-a SLO-ter-eye)
syn. Ipomoea x multifida

Common Names

Cardinal Climber

Hardiness Zones

Cardinal Climber is an annual and is frost tender, so it has not been given a USDA Hardiness Zone.

Sun Exposure

You will get the most flowers and a lusher vine if it is grown in full sun to partial shade.

Mature Size

The vines tend to bend, wind and tangle, so it can be difficult to determine what the actual size is. Just be confident that Cardinal climber will climb. Expect them to grow about 6 - 12 ft. (h) x 9 - 12 inches (w)

Bloom Period

Cardinal climber starts blooming in mid-summer and continues through fall.

Suggested Varieties

Cardinal Climber is a cross between Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) and Red Morning Glory (Ipomoea coccinea). Cypress vine flowers come in reds, pinks and whites that form a star-shape at the opening and the plant has leaves with such thin lobes they look like needles.

Both Cardinal Climber and Cypress Vine have similar flowers and are often mislabeled, so look closely at the seeds you are ordering if you are really intent on growing a specific plant. Don't fret too much if you get the wrong seeds. They are both wonderful vines and very hardy growers.

Red Morning Glory has similar trumpet-shaped flowers, with the more traditional heart-shaped morning glory leaves.

Design Suggestions

The delicate, lacy leaves form a peek-a-boo screen, rather than blocking the view entirely. This makes them great for training over an arbor or trellis. They are also a good choice for softening a wall and adding an airy feeling.

The plants do very well in containers. Add a support in the container for even more height. They look wonderful growing around a tuteur or obelisk, in the center of other flowers.

Growing Tips

  • Soil: Cardinal Climber is not particular about soil pH, but something in the neutral range of 6.0 to 7.2 is best. It does not need a rich soil, although some organic matter will keep it growing and blooming without additional fertilizer.
  • Planting: The morning glory family does not like to be transplanted and most varieties are direct sown. Wait until after danger of frost to plant seeds outdoors.

The seeds have a hard shell and germinate best if some type of scarification is done before planting. The easiest method is to soak them overnight. If you're really ambitious, you can rub them gently with some sandpaper and then soak them overnight. Seeds should germinate within 10 days.

Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep. Give the young plants a regular weekly watering of at least 1 to 2 inches, while getting established. Cardinal Vine doesn't like prolonged periods of dryness.


Cardinal Climber is pretty much maintenance free. It needs regular water, but shouldn't need fertilizer unless your soil is very poor. In that case, a side dressing of compost in mid-season should be enough. There is no need to deadhead the flowers or trim the vines.

In warmer climates, all members of the Morning Glory family (Ipomoea) can become aggressive self-seeders. So far, only the Arizona Department of Agriculture has banned their sale. Also, the seeds are poisonous, if ingested.

If Cardinal Climber is not a problem in your area, you can allow the seed pods to dry on the plants and then collect the seeds to plant next year.

Pests and Problems

Cardinal Climber is virtually pest-free. If the vines get too thick, they may attract whitefly. Insecticidal soap should control the problem.