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How to Grow Red Cardinal Vines

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plant cardinal vines near a trellis to create a living wall.
garden trellis with square sections on a sunny day image by Steve Johnson from Fotolia.com

Annual vines add quick coverage to trellises. Use them to create a living privacy screen or to add color to vertical surfaces. Red cardinal vines have fern-like foliage and small, brilliant red flowers. They thrive in full sunlight, where ivy and other perennial vines quickly become scorched. They are also mildly drought-resistant, therefore can survive short periods of dry weather in summer when other plants begin to wilt. Planting and growing red cardinal vines is not difficult, though the seeds require some preparation prior to planting.

Scuff one side of the seed with a metal file or piece of sandpaper, scuffing off just the outer seed coat until the lighter inner coating shows through. Place the nicked seeds in a bowl of warm water and leave to soak overnight. This breaks the seeds dormancy, speeding germination.

Prepare a full-sun, well-drained garden bed near a trellis or fence. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over the planting area and till it in to the top 6 inches of soil to provide nutrients and aid drainage.

Sow the prepared seeds ½ inch deep and space them 2 to 4 inches apart. Space them within 6 to 8 inches of the base of the fence or trellis.

Water immediately after planting. Water daily as necessary to keep the soil moist but not soggy until the plants are approximately 6 inches high. Once the cardinal vine reaches 6 inches, water when the surface of the soil begins to feel dry.

Guide the young vines onto the trellis. Wind the tips once or twice clockwise around the trellis if they do not begin climbing on their own.

Pinch the tip of each vine when it reaches the top of the trellis. This encourages branching, stops vertical growth and leads to a fuller vine.


Things You Will Need

  • Metal file
  • Bowl
  • Compost
  • Trellis


  • Start red cardinal vines in spring one to two weeks before the last expected spring frost.
  • Cardinal vines may reach up to 20 feet high if not pinched back.


  • Weeds can choke out red cardinal vines. Lay a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants if weeds are an issue. This helps prevent their growth.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.