Cardinal climber (Ipomoea × multifida) is one of those plants that fully lives up to its name. The blossoms of this hybrid plant are a true cardinal red, and the vine reaches for whatever it can grab. This is a very graceful, airy annual vine, related to morning glory (one of the parent plants of this hybrid). It blooms profusely throughout the summer and the red, trumpet-shaped flowers are big favorites of hummingbirds and other pollinators. The bright green leaves are triangular, with deep, narrow lobes that give them a lacy appearance resembling that of small palm leaves. The tubular flowers are red, with white or yellow throats. Five petals overlap to form a swept-back pentagon at the opening.
Cardinal climber is often planted near a trellis or other structure that it can climb; it can also be used as a dense ground-cover. 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.
Cardinal climber can also be grown in containers. Add support in the container for even more height. The plant looks wonderful growing around an obelisk, in the center of other flowers.
Like all Ipomoea species and hybrids, the plant is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.
|Common Name||Cardinal climber|
|Botanical Name||Ipomoea × multifida|
|Plant Type||Annual, vine|
|Mature Size||6-12 ft. tall, 9-2 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Bloom Time||Summer, fall|
|Hardiness Zones||10-12 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Hybrid plant, no native range|
|Toxicity||Toxic to dogs, toxic to cats, toxic to horses.|
Cardinal Climber Care
Plant cardinal climber in any well-drained soil, in a full-sun location. It requires regular water but does not need to be fertilized unless the soil is poor. It is often planted from potted seedlings, but it can also be seeded directly into the soil, covering the seeds 1/4 inch deep. Space plants 6 to 12 inches apart and provide a good support structure.
Cardinal climber prefers full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days) but will tolerate part shade.
This plant does well in any well-drained soil; it prefers a neutral pH (6.0 to 7.2).
Cardinal climber will tolerate dry soil, but its parent species are tropical plants, and it grows best if kept moist. Make sure it gets at least 1 inch of water each week, either through rainfall or irrigation. Cardinal climber doesn't like prolonged periods of dryness.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant likes hot, humid weather for best growth; cool weather will cause it to grow slowly.
Cardinal climber rarely needs feeding, unless the soil is very poor.
Propagating Cardinal Climber
This is a hybrid annual that grows true from its seeds. Let the seeds dry on the plant before collecting them to start them from seed the following year.
How to Grow Cardinal Climber From Seed
You can sow seeds directly into the garden after danger of frost has passed, to a depth of 1/4 inch. Or, start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date of spring.
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. Give the young plants a regular weekly watering of at least 1 to 2 inches while getting established.
Cardinal climber is virtually pest-free. If the vines get too thick, they may attract whitefly. Insecticidal soap should control the problem.
Common Problems with Cardinal Climber
In warmer climates, all members of the morning glory family (Ipomoea) can become aggressive self-seeders.
Do cardinal climbers come back every year?
Are cardinal climbers invasive?
The vine easily reseeds itself and becomes invasive. To keep it under control, remove the seed pods while they are still green, and discard them in the trash, never in the compost. Also remove any emerging seedlings.
Can you grow cardinal climber in pots?
You can grow it in containers but the vine needs support to climb. Because cardinal climber grows vigorously, it can overgrow other plants in the container or nearby. You can also plant it in a hanging basket where it cascades down and won't need support.