Cypress Vine's September Seedlings

Cypress vine germinates readily, grows quickly, begins flowering when still a toddler, and doesn't stop until cut down by frost. Over the growing season, then, many hundreds of its flowers come and go. And because they are popular with hummingbirds as well as butterflies, it's no surprise that at least some of those flowers might mature to seeds. And that some of those seeds might fall to the ground and germinate.


I've taken to planting a huge terra cotta pot with several cypress vines each May. This year, I planted both the white form of the straight species, Ipomoea quamoclit 'Alba', as well as Ipomoea x multifida, which is the red-flowered hybrid of that species with Ipomoea coccinea. By August, the vines had raced to the top of a fourteen-foot tuteur of rebar poles. By September, they had flounced around at the top of the tuteur, as always happens, looking for another ten feet to climb.


By September, seeds have ripened as well, then fallen to the ground. It's no surprise that some landed in congenial spots—say, right in the same pot as the mother plants, where the rich potting soil and attentive watering speeded germination. Below, one of the seedlings of Ipomoea quamoclit, sporting its first pair of feathery pinnate foliage. 


Ipomoea quamoclit fingers 093017 640


Nearby is a seeding of Ipomoea x multifida, with its characteristic pointy-fingered palmate foliage.


Ipomoea multifida fingers 093017 640


No plants of any form of cypress vine are hardy north of Miami, but their seeds are reported to be hardy almost into Climate Zone 5. This would be coastal Maine. In mild climates—say Texas through Georgia—this delicate-looking but vigorous and floriferous vine must be nearly omnipresent. This Florida-centric plant database reports that cypress vine "normally occurs in cultivated fields, roadsides, and disturbed areas." In other words, the vine's seeds are almost everywhere, lying dormant until shade-casting competitor plants are removed, even if just temporarily, by cultivation, construction, or disturbance. 


In New England, the most prevalent plant with omnipresent seeds that germinate opportunistically is crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis. Another is bindweed, Convolulus arvensis. Both are terrors, to be eradicated whenever possible. 


Despite its ability to pop up almost anywhere in the sunny landscape of milder climates, cypress vine doesn't seem to be a worry. The entry in that same subtropical database continues, "Although cypress vine is not native to North America, it has caused little concern among those would protect us from exotic pest plants, probably because it does not appear to be displacing any native species or disrupting natural plant communities. It is, in my opinion, a welcome addition to our flora."


Imagine: an attractive plant that grows almost anywhere, and yet doesn't wear out its welcome. In this sense, cypress vine is the ideal that few other plants can surpass.



Here's how happy this large container of these annual vines is: each year, the first tendrils of young plants set out in late May have raced to the top of their fourteen-foot rebar poles by late August. By late September, they have ramified into a platoon of climbers in search of still higher climbing possibilities.


Ipomoea x multifida is also known as Ipomoea sloteriHere's how to grow Ipomoea quamoclit, one of its parent species. Its hardiness, vigor, mature size, handling, flower color, and floriferousness are the same as those of Ipomoea x multifida.


Here's how to grow fire vine, Ipomoea lobata.


Here's a look at yet another of these high-flying morning glory species: moonvine, Ipomoea alba, as well as a link for how to grow it. Unlike the vines above, its undivided heart-shaped leaves, dense growth, and immense trumpet-shaped flowers say "morning glory" to everyone.

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