Cypress vine, part of the bindweed family (Convolvulaceae), is valued not only as a flowering vine with small, delicate, papery star-shaped blooms, mostly in bright red, but also as a foliage plant with graceful, dainty, and feathery fern-like leaves.
Though it is considered an annual, the cypress vine can also be technically called a perennial because its self-seeding ability makes it appear year after year without much intervention. If planting from scratch, do so in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. The fast-growing vine begins its aggressive climb once the soil becomes warm and blooms in about a month, and keep an eye out for straying, invasive vines that may be reaching out to other plants.
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Botanical Name Ipomoea quamoclit
Common Name Cypress vine, red cypress vine, Indian pink, star glory, hummingbird vine
Plant Type Annual vine
Mature Size 6-15 ft. in length, spread of 3-6 ft.
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Fertile, well-drained, and kept evenly moist
Soil pH Neutral to slightly acidic or slightly alkaline
Bloom Time June to October
Flower Color Red; less commonly, pink or white
Hardiness Zones 11-12 (USDA)
Native Area Tropical America
Toxicity Toxic to people and pets
Cypress Vine Care
When it comes to gardening with wildlife in mind, cypress vine hits the trifecta: deer avoid it, yet hummingbirds love it, and it draws butterflies. It’s also relatively free of pest and disease problems.
Once you have decided on an outdoor location for them, the next step will generally be to provide a supporting vertical structure for them to grow on. Cypress vine is a true climber that climbs by twining around objects and it is not a container plant. This vine is delicate and easily damaged, so be careful in handling a runner when you are moving it this way or that to encourage it to climb in a particular direction. The vine can also grow out rather than up and it may accidentally latch on to other plants and overtake them, so it requires a watchful eye. Suitable supporting structures can include:
Deck posts exposed to the sun
By growing cypress vines up a chain-link fence, for example, you’re able to disguise the unsightly nature of a fence while achieving privacy for part of the summer.
Cypress vines are considered invasive weeds in the Southeastern U.S. Deadheading the flowers will prevent seed production and spread.
Cypress vine needs full sun for it to bloom. Giving it proper support to climb on (so that it is not shaded by nearby plants) is often a necessary step in meeting this requirement.
Of the three recommendations for soil conditions (fertile, well-drained, and evenly moist), well-drained is the most critical. Cypress vine, once established, is reasonably tolerant of drought and can often get by without much fertilizing. But a soil that does not drain well will stress the plant.
For ideal growth, water to keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).
Temperature and Humidity
The plant can tolerate temporary dry spells but prefers moisture, but not bogginess. It prefers shelter from cold and drying winds.
Cypress vine will grow bigger and more reliably if it is fed with a balanced fertilizer.
Cypress Vine’s Similar Varieties
In addition to morning glory, other plants from the Ipomoea genus used in landscaping include:
Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
Especially interesting is the relationship between cypress vine and cardinal climber (Ipomoea sloteri), a hybrid plant that offers similar features. Cypress vine is one of the parents of the latter, the other parent being red morning glory (Ipomoea coccinea). Confusingly, “cypress vine” is also sometimes used as a common name for Ipomoea sloteri and “cardinal climber” for Ipomoea quamoclit, which is why it is better to use the scientific names of plants when in doubt.
How to Grow Cypress Vine From Seed
Cypress vine is grown from seed. While it is possible to sow the seeds directly outdoors (after the danger of frost has passed), it can take a long time to get flowers from them in the northern states this way unless growing conditions are ideal. Many gardeners like to get a jump on the growing season by starting the plants indoors from seed in peat pots filled with potting mix, four to six weeks prior to the last frost date. Here’s how:
Keep seeds moist for 24 hours before planting.
Lightly scar the surface of the seeds using sandpaper.
Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover them with the potting mix.
Keep the potting mix damp and warm (at least 70 Fahrenheit).
Germination will occur in about 10 days.
Water the newly-germinated plants well to get them established.
Transplant the plants outside after all danger of frost has passed.
Avoid damping off problems with the seedlings. The fungus that causes this problem is usually the result of overly wet and fertilized soil. Thin out seedlings to make sure there’s plenty of air circulation.
The vine is relatively problem-free. However, the vine may be stressed enough to develop white blister, rust fungus, fungal leaf spots, stem rot, thread blight, charcoal rot, and wilt.