Cardinal flower and climbing vines

pufftrinket(5MI)April 3, 2007

I read that cardinal flower is SOLELY pollinated by hummingbirds. Does that sound right?

For some odd reason, I have been attracted to annual climbers and vines this year. Does anyone have any experience with these?

Scarlet runner bean

Morning glories (multicolored)

Cypress vine

Cardinal climber

Sweet pea

I feel kind of guilty planting a few of them, because they are non-native.

Any comments?

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I had great success with Cypress Vine and Scarlet Runner Bean last year. I don't see hummers on the Morning Glory too much, but they really loved the Salvia coccinea that pops up every year (now that one can get out of hand, but they are a great hummer plant so that's okay with me).

These two vines don't expand so I wouldn't worry TOO much about their non-native-ness. Morning Glory can get out of hand though.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:37AM
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I grow lots of Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis),
both in containers and around a small ornamental pond.
I have seen butterflies visit them, so I would say that
hummers aren't the SOLE pollinator. But, even with
feeders everywhere, my HB's fight over the CF. Another
native plant which I've read has the RTH as its PRIMARY
pollinator is Fire pink (Silene virginica). Mine always
begin blooming a few days before the hummers arrive -
probably not a coincidence. Here are photos of both, in
case others are interested. Hope you don't mind me
usurping your thread.

Cardinal flower (taken last summer)

Fire pink

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:02PM
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I grew both Cypress vine and Cardinal climber last year in a pot. The pot was an odd size (I made it in ceramics class), probably about 10" in diameter, but easily 15-18" deep.

I started both plants indoors in early April, and had decent sized seedlings by mid May. I had no idea how much room they needed, so I put two Cardinal Climbers, and one Cypress vine in the pot. All three did great for awhile, and the Cypress vine did bloom for awhile, but then the larger, more robust Cardinal Climbers squeezed out the Cypress vine.

Those monsters grew over 15 feet by August, and were covered with little red blossoms late in the summer. Initially, I was disappointed with how few flowers, but then I fertilized them with a low nitrogen liquid fertilizer and they really took off. I don't know if it was the fertilizer, or if it just takes all summer for them to come into their own.

As for hummingbirds, I did see the hummingbirds dipping into them quite a bit. Like Morning Glories, they shrivel up by late morning or afternoon, and then new ones open up at night, staying open to greet the early morning hummingbirds. It is not a useful plant for afternoon or early evening blooming.

I was pleased with the plant, and the hummingbirds seemed to like it, too.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:56PM
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I'm sorry to hog this thread, but I had a few more thoughts about native and non-native species. Cardinal Climbers are an artificial hybrid, so are native to nowhere. They're just a garden plant, but my Peterson guide to wildflowers lists one of its parent species (I. coccinea) as native as far north as Michigan. Its other parent is the Cypress vine.

The Cypress vine, as far as I can tell, is native only to Mexico and tropical America. Although it isn't native to the United States and Canada, it is at least native within the Ruby-throat's wintering range--so I guess what I'm saying is that there are degrees of "nativeness" and "non-nativeness." I understand the Cypress Vine has naturalized itself in the southeastern US, but don't know if anyone considers it to be noxious. So, with respect to a native garden, the Cypress Vine and the Cardinal Climbers fall sort of in between in my view. There are also flowers that aren't even from this continent that are grown for hummingbirds. Aloes (among several others) come to mind. I think they're from South Africa and are used by sunbirds.

I'm not a purist, so am growing a hodgepodge of native North American plants and tropical American plants, with an emphasis on pure species rather than hybrids. I don't think I have any plants that aren't native to the Americas, but wouldn't rule them out if I thought the hummers would like them. I'm trying Silene regia this year, but I think it's more of a prairie plant, so wouldn't naturally be growing east of Ohio. Penstemon barbatus is also North American, but native to the southwest. It can be tricky deciding how inclusive to be.

There is something nice about an entirely native garden, it's just something I haven't decided to do. It feels too limiting for me, and I guess it pleases me to offer the hummers something they wouldn't find growing in the nearby woods and fields. I guess you'll have to decide for yourself what is best, and where you draw the line.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 1:31PM
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I'll never be without the Cypress Vine. They reseed nicely for me and they're easy to winter sow. The icing on the cake is that the hummers love them.

I have yet to see a hummer on any of my morning glories, yet I keep growing them too, and usually, never the same two years in a row.

The one MG I'll NEVER grow again is "Orange Noah". It reseeds to the point of extreme hatred for me. The hummers love it, maybe more than the Cypress Vine, but I can't handle it's invasiveness. I haven't intentionally planted it in a few years now, and it keeps sneaking in with my other morning glories, making it unable to control. Then it reseeds, and it just keeps coming back. I know, never say never ;)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 2:12PM
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Charlee_MO(z6 MO)

I love my Cypress Vine and so do the hummers!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 5:15PM
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Crossvine is a good native vine for hummingbirds (not sure how it does in Michigan). Ours exploded into bloom two weeks ago just in time for the ruby-throats' northward migration. Unfortunately, we never see very many on their way north...we just have lots of them in the late summer and fall on their way back south, but the cross vine blooms again for them then also.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 7:52PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Orange Noah is the Ipomoea coccinea (native small flowered morning glory) and can be very aggressive and invasive especially in the south. I cut mine down to the ground in July last year and by august it had filled two trellises again. Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea x Multifida) is a hybrid of Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) and Ipomoea Coccinea. Cypress vine reseeds for me but cardinal climber does not. I am hoping that the orange noah doesn't reseed this year.

Cardinal flower (Lobelia Cardinalis) is a totally different plant. It is not a climber and is best planted in a bog and it is only used by my hummers. I never see any butterflies or other pollinators using it.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:42AM
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While we are talking about Cardinal Flower, I'm building a small 8' x 10' pond and building shelves in it to hold potted plants. Do I put Cardinal flower in a clay pot and have it partially submerged in the water? Do I use a plastic pot and just let it absorb water from the bottom hole? Any advice and pictures on how you use cardinal flower in and around a pot would be fantastic.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 1:36PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I am just guessing but the clay pot would probzably be better for water absorbtion. My plants are in a boggy area of my yard that stays very wet unless we have a very dry summer. right now there is about a half inch of standing water.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 4:04PM
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Wow, I'm glad I stumbled on to this thread. Does anyone have any cypress vine seeds to spare? I'm just getting restarted gathering seeds this year, but hopefully I will have seeds of the vine "Exotic Love" - Ipomoea Lobata by the end of the summer and will be able to share them with people. This vine LOOKS like it would attract hummingbirds... I'll watch the ones I plant this year, and will get back to folks here about it. It's really pretty and is related to the Cypress Vine, evidently.

I have a cross vine on order, "Balboa Sunset" which according to monrovia nurseries was found on Balboa Island off the coast, and is a native, and I've planted a honeysuckle, called "Goldflame" which is purportedly a big hummingbird draw...

We'll see!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 3:18AM
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Hummers do love cypress vine, but I wouldn't put it near anything else. Maybe give it a seperate trellis away from other plants and trees.

I've got to pull mine up where I planted it, because it twins into everything. I'll transplant some of it on a seperate trellis where I can control it, enjoy the hummers feeding there.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 12:55PM
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I have a long tall (12 feet high) metal fence, with green slats in it. I hate the looks of it, but it's the only thing that hides the neighbor's awful yard. So this cypress vine sounds like the perfect thing to hide the messy looking fence. I planted fifteen seeds today, and may plant some more... but would like to know how far they spread horizontally?


    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 9:13PM
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I think Cardinal Climber, which is very similar to Cypress vine, is a more vigorous plant, and with its beefier leaves would make a better screen. Cypress vine leaves are more ferny and sparse looking.

I grew both last year, 2 Cardinal climbers and one Cypress vine in the same pot. The Cardinal Climbers eventually crowded out the Cypress vine, and they just seemed like bigger, more vigorous plants. Each one easily spread about 3-4 feet wide, and grew over 15 feet tall, completely covering the trellis with dense foliage. I'm not sure the Cypress vine would have gotten that big, and it was clearly outpaced by both of the Cardinal Climbers.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 10:59PM
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Hi all...

Just stopped back to say thanks. This is a really friendly forum. Thank you. I'll keep you posted on the vines. We just had SNOW- well, still have it- so they'll have to wait. I may have lost some already. :-(

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 9:12PM
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Hey organic hummingbird1--Did you ever get those Cypress vine seeds? I have seeds for both Cardinal Climber and Cypress vine. Would you like any of either, or both, or did you already find some somewhere else?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 11:12PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I HATE cypress vine. It is the most invasive plant that I have even seen, and that includes Salvia coccinea. It grows everywhere, i.e. in flower beds, in lawns, in cracks, etc. I would never plant it no matter how much the HB's like it. I have lots of plants that they like just as much and are not as invasive.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 9:25PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I can agree. Even here in NY it sprouts up everwhere from seeds that fell from the previous year. Last year I didn't even have to plant any...i just transplanted the seedlings out of the lawn and cracks in the driveway. I will probably have an even bigger problem this year as I didn't even collect seed from my vines last year.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 5:36AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)


The funny thing is that I never planted the stuff here, and I still find it all over! Boy that stuff gets around!

BTW, I've had hummers coming through for about a week now. They are using the small feeders that I have out, but they are really going after my blooming plants.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 9:44AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Yes I saw your report the other day of all the hummers that are streaming in. Feed them well b/4 they head northward as there isn't much to eat north of the Mason Dixon line yet.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 9:55AM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

Maybe they know that and will stay a while to fatten up!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 10:08AM
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Hi, everyone. Kinda new to this forum, but I am working to attract more hummers. I do have an old-fashioned lonicera that they love. But, one of the things they really liked when I grew it, was Hibiscus coccinus. Red flowering and native. I made a grievous error and ripped it out last year because it was getting so big. Now, I'm planting another one. Not only the hummers are attracted to it, but the sulphur butterflies are, too.

Also am planting a antigonon vine (has the cigar-shaped red blooms), another lonicera, but it's a sempervirens cultivar with reddish-orange blooms. I have some seeds of cypress vine to plant, too. I've grown this before, but never had a problem with reseeding. I also have some seeds of Salvia 'Yvonne's' to plant. They seem to like my Monarda species as well.

I have a feeder that sits by my honeysuckle "tree", and my little hummer loves to just sit on the twining branches, too.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 9:04AM
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I like both the cypress vine and the cardinal climber. I have both climbing on a cedar fence in by back yard. Both do well and have not been a problem with invasion. However, I have been growing another vine in the morning glory family, the Moonflower. It is a giant night blooming white morning glory type vine that literally takes over the whole place. One vine was about 55 feet long at the end of the summer and had taken over all of the other vines in my yard. It is pretty, but it is very aggressive and dominates the other plants if you don't keep it under control

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 10:17PM
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I just started gardening, and I planted some Cardinal Climber seeds indoors. They are starting to grow, and I've given them plenty of water and sunlight, but the first leaves are wilting and small ferny ones are replacing them. Is this normal?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 5:50PM
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Last summer I built a wall 8 x 10 just for the cardinal climbers and it did well but I was suprised at the lack of hummer use on it, but dont get me wrong they did use it. But this year I want to try cardinal flower in a low area I have where there is a high water table . In the past I have tried to grow them from seed with little success. This year I have flat of 35 going Im hoping to get at least a few out of that.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 7:15PM
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I have had really good luck with the white Cypress vine. Maybe it is not as invasive as the red?? It does reseed, but not very much. The hummers love it, but they seem to love most everything in my garden, which began as a butterfly garden many years ago.

I have never seen hummers on my Morning Glories, but have seen the day flying sphinx moths such as the pink spotted hawkmoth, commonly called hummingbird moths because they hover and feed much like hummingbirds.

The hummers also love the passion vines. They will patrol these flowers like they do their feeders! So funny!


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 9:52AM
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RT, "ferny" leaves are probably the first true leaves appearing. Keep the sunlight high and start hardening them off outdoors when weather allows.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 10:57PM
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I know this is an old thread but I have been searching for info on Cardianl Climber and Cypress Vines. Kristen and Penny you mentioned that "Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea x Multifida) is a hybrid of Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) and Ipomoea Coccinea. Cypress vine reseeds but cardinal climber does not". However, Seed Savers Exchange has Cardinal Climber listed as Ipomoea multifida a Half Hardy Annual that is an OP/Heriloom plant from 1800s. Was it hybritized way back in the 1800s?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 9:16PM
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I'm in North Carolina. I have a packet of Cardinal Climber seeds. I have had a constant struggle keeping wild morning glories at bay in my yard. It isn't clear to me yet if Cardinal Climber will reseed as prolifically as the wild morning glories and become invasive. Would someone clarify please?

I've been happy with red runner beans in the past, just thought I'd try something different.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 2:18PM
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I will second the Crossvine. It is a great plant and the hummers love it.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 10:57PM
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I like my crossvine, but the hummers prefer other plants, like the coral honeysuckle, shrimp plants and many salvias. I think it's a vine that they visit, but there are others that they prefer. I would put the Carolina Jasmine in the same category. They are pretty, grow well, but the hummers in my yard only visit them sporadically.

I have never had any luck growing the cardinal flower. It just needs too much water for my yard. On the other hand Morning Glories do great here. I've dug them all up, however. They are invasive and not a hummer favorite.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Does anyone have a suggestion for a climbing vine that would get morning only sun? I'm trying to find something that the hummingbirds would like. I've got some Fuschia's for hanging baskets but would like to get something climbing so they come up by the deck.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 3:27PM
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Has anyone ever divided a cardinal flower plant and if so would it survive. Im thinking if it is so now would be the time to divide it.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 2:40PM
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hawkeye_wx(z5 east-central IA)

Steve, I haven't divided any CF, but it appears I'm going to have to replace at least one clump. I read they were short-lived perennials. My biggest, best plant last year is big and healthy-looking again now, but another plant looked iffy a month ago and is now turning black. The other two plants are in between. I think I may have several reseeder CF plants so I can replace the bad one if the small plants are indeed CF.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:44PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have lots of Lobelia cardinalis, it self sows here and there in interesting places, and I usually transplant and expand or create another patch. Transplanting L. cardinalis is easy, however I would not try to divide a Cardinal flower as they make a rosette of foliage and my instinct says it should stay intact. However I've never tried it.

L. cardinalis has been fairly long lived. If you deadhead and pamper a bit with water and compost, it will successfully make offsets each year. The original 2 pots I bought at the nursery in 2007 are still alive, and also 2008 winter-sown plant and their seedlings.

I have been growing Cardinal Climber for 3 years and it has never reseeded, but have successfully collected seed. Last year the deer went to town on the CC and the MGs on my new trellis and so I constructed barriers, which allowed some recovery to the vines and decent showing of blooms.

The hummers nectar regularly on CC, but they LOVE cardinal flower. I think it is their very favorite plant in my garden. Here's a pic from last year -

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 5:20PM
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I have grown cardinal climber but it didnt do all that well here. I also have and still grow cardinal flower. So thought I would some previous years shots here.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:03PM
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