Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri/ I. multifida)
Cardinal Climber is an exceptionally appealing annual vine that provides not only elegant foliage but also charming red flowers that are a favorite of Hummingbirds.
Cardinal Climber is especially well suited to climbing an attractive support structure that the gardener does not want camouflaged by the large foliage found on most other annual vines. A more refined relative of the familiar Morning Glory, Cardinal Climber sports delicately divided foliage that accents rather than conceals the framework it climbs. Its ferny foliage, borne on vining stems, will gracefully entwine its support and create a living sculpture. It has exception vigor and will twine up to 20’ in a single season, if given the opportunity.
As the temperatures rise in mid-summer the blossoms will begin to appear and will continue through frost. The flowers – although small – are a vivid red color that visually “pops”, even when viewed from a distance. The trumpet shape of the flowers, combined with the brilliant red color, make this plant especially popular with Hummingbirds.
When temperatures drop in autumn the foliage takes on hues of burgundy and deep purple, contrasting strikingly with the brilliant red flowers.
Unlike traditional Morning Glories, which tend to self-sow prolifically, the Cardinal Climber is well behaved in our northern climate and does not self-seed in our Zone 4 & 5 gardens.
As a terrific performer that earns its place in the garden, it’s an exceptionally affordable plant. Johnson’s Gardens carries starter plants in spring, usually for under $5 each. It is also easily grown from seed, which we will have available beginning in late winter/early spring. Cardinal Climber seed can be started indoors but is best sown directly in the garden once the danger of frost passes. Soaking the seeds overnight in warm water will assist with germination.
Note: The seeds of Cardinal Climber are highly toxic if ingested so care should be taken to keep them out of the reach of children and pets.
by Zannah Crowe