When my cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) is blooming, it is covered in tiny, star-shaped, brilliantly red flowers. Although they are tiny, the flowers really stand out against the light green of the leaves and vine.
My favorite part about the cypress vine is its dainty, feather-like leaves. The leaves look so fragile and fairy-like that, even when it isn’t blooming, this vine puts on a little show.
But don’t be fooled by the delicate appearance of its leaves, this vine is pretty strong and it can be aggressive. It grows rapidly and may cover nearby plants or structures.
Cypress vine produces so many seeds that you will soon have twenty vines where you only planted one. The following year, there will be vines popping up in the nearby soil, so be ready to pull them out where they are not wanted before they overgrow the surrounding plants.
Invasive or Not? It Depends on the Garden
Despite its fast growth rate and how much it spreads through seed dispersal, I have always liked this vine. My advice is to plant it in a place where you can mow around it to contain the growth of new vines or plant it in a place where you won’t mind if it spreads a bit.
This year, my cypress vine is planted in a container and growing up a trellis. It is adjacent to a flower bed which may have some seedlings in it the following year, but I don’t mind just pulling those out. If you plant the vine, you will need to have a plan to keep it contained so that it does not spread throughout your garden.
Cypress vine is native to Central and South America and is considered invasive in some states. Before you add it to your garden, check with your local extension service office to find out whether it is listed as an invasive species in your area.
How to Grow Cypress Vine
Cypress vine is probably one of the easiest plants to grow here in zone 7b. It can be grown in zones 6 though 9 and it will die over the winter, but I usually see more growing the following year from self-seeding.
Plant your vine in full sun for best results, though it will tolerate part-shade, and provide it a structure to climb on – usually a trellis or even an arbor. You’ll need to train the vine to climb where you want it or it will spread onto everything around it. So, check it daily to wind errant strands onto the climbing structure and away from other plants.
It prefers well-drained but evenly moist soil but it can grow in most soil types after it has been established. In drought-prone areas or in sandy or clay soil, mulch the base to keep it more evenly moist. Water the vine when you see it wilting. In my zone, we get enough rain that I don’t water it much except when I have it planted in a container. Then I have to water it every few days to keep it from wilting.
Wildlife Benefits of Cypress Vine
Cypress vines produce flowers for several months – starting in spring and continuing through the fall. It is early November and mine is still blooming.
Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the tiny star-shaped red flowers. I have watched a ruby-throated hummingbird flit from flower to flower on this vine, sipping on their nectar.
Combine that with the bright red flowers and feathery leaves and it’s worth the work to contain it just to have it in my garden.