Thomas Jefferson was the first person to cite this plant in America.While in Philadelphia in December 1790, he sent a collection of seeds to Monticello that included "some seed of the Cypress vine for Patsy" (his eldest daughter, Martha). The following March, Martha wrote back that she and "Polly" (his daughter, Maria) had "planted the cypress vine in boxes in the window," perhaps to serve as houseplants. This tender annual vine, native to tropical America, and noted in Italy in the 1500s, was known among 18th-century Virginia gardeners. Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon offered seed for sale in 1804, calling it "Wing'd leaved Ipomoea." The Cypress Vine is a Morning Glory relative with star-shaped scarlet and white flowers that provide a vivid contrast to plant's lacy green foliage. Like the Morning Glory, the Cypress vine will twine up a trellis, pole, young tree, fence, or, as we use at Monticello, four-foot-high branches or "pea sticks" pruned from our own trees.
The true cypress vine is often confused with a related species, cardinal climber (Ipomoea coccinea), which does not have the distinctive lacy foliage. Cypress is a summer-flowering, annual vine with slender, bright scarlet, star-shaped flowers and delicate, lacy, deep green foliage.
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Cypress Vine.
Typical Blooming Dates: July - October
Growth Type: Annual
Color(s): Reds (Scarlet),White
Hardiness Zones: Zone 1-10
Location at Monticello: West Lawn
Planting Conditions: Partial Shade