Morning Glory Care 101: How to Grow Morning Glories
With heart-shaped leaves and funnel-shaped flowers, the twining bindweed is called Ipomoeas just need something to climb on to dress up in glorious colors. The annual flowers usually close in the afternoon on sunny days, although they can stay open longer on cloudy days.
As a member of the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), Morning Glory suffers from something of an identity crisis. Although the annual flower can become invasive if sowed nearby, most of its cousins — like bindweed — are classified as noxious weeds and banned in some states. They are difficult to get rid of once they have established themselves in the garden. To further confuse matters, people often call all related plants the common name “morning glory.” The weedy cousins tend to have smaller, less dramatic buds; tight tendrils; and a taproot to make them even harder to pull!
Because the laid-back ornamental flower requires no fertilizer and is reported to bloom most profusely in poor soil, morning glory care is easy—perhaps too easy. The tendency of vines to spread through self-seeding and to become invasive keeps even some cultivated species on noxious weed lists in many areas. They are less of a problem in some climates and when growing native or ornamental annual species of the flower.
Growing Morning Glory at a glance
common names: morning glory
Scientific name: Ipomoea purpurea (and some Convolvulus spp.)
hardening zone: USDA Zones 2 through 10 as annuals; about 8 to 12 for perennials
Floor: Only moderately fertile, well draining
Light: Full sun
Eat: Low-nitrogen fertilizer
Characteristics of the Morning Glory
The Convolvulaceae family includes hundreds of plants, including the sweet potato. However, varieties commonly grown by gardeners mostly come from the Ipomoea purpurea, I. zeroor I. tricolor Species.
Ipomoea Vines climb 6 to 12 feet and twist clockwise, but some convolvulus Types are no taller than 1 foot and tend to branch out as a twine. A hummingbird-attracting funnel-shaped morning glory flower’s size also varies from 1 to 2 inches in diameter for low-growing ones convolvulus native species up to 2½ inches for Ipomoea purpurea Varieties and up to nearly 6 inches for I. zero And I. tricolor Sorts.
When do morning glories bloom? Directly sown plants usually start blooming in late summer, while those grown early indoors can bloom all summer. Native to Mexico and Central America, the vines, usually grown as annuals, can be perennial in USDA zones 9 through 12.
Recommended Morning Glory strains
- Ipomoea purpurea: This species typically only grows between 6 and 10 feet tall and has flowers up to 2½ inches in diameter. She produced Grandpa Ott’s heirloom, ideal for purple monochromatic gardens, as well as other purple, pink and white varieties.
- Ipomoea tricolor: The species responsible for blue morning glory, like the ever-popular Heavenly Blue cultivar, tricolor typically grows about 10 feet tall and has flowers at least 3 inches across in sky-hued hues.
- Ipomoea zero: Showy Japanese morning glory and other large-flowered species descend from this species, which can grow up to 12 feet with flowers up to 6 inches across.
- Convolvulus sabatius: This “ground bindweed” with oval foliage is no more than a foot tall and makes an easy groundcover with 1- to 2-inch light blue flowers that bloom all day. It is a perennial ground cover that is not as invasive as some of its species.
- Convolvulus tricolor: Also known as “dwarf morning glory,” this species grows 6 inches to 1 foot tall with oval leaves and 1½ inch diameter flowers that remain open all day and are similar Ipomoea tricolor.
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Plant morning glory
Because morning glory can tolerate root disturbance, it’s a good idea to sow them directly into the ground, especially in areas with a longer growing season. Another option is to grow the seeds indoors in biodegradable containers that you can plant yourself.
When is the best time to plant morning glory?
Morning glory usually takes about 2½ to 4 months to go from seed to flower, so those sown outdoors after the last spring frost generally won’t flower until late summer and fall. If you prefer earlier flowering, start the seedlings indoors for about 4 to 6 weeks before setting them out after the last frost.
Where can morning glory grow?
Choose an east-facing site that gets full sun all morning and only moderately fertile soil, as an oversupply of nitrogen will produce lush foliage at the expense of flowers. You can plant morning glory on the east side of arbors, buildings, or even evergreen shrubs. Remember they need support to squirm around so they may need a trellis or a system of wires or string to hold them to a building.
How do you plant morning glory?
Since morning glory seeds are poisonous, keep them out of the reach of children and pets.
- After soaking the seeds overnight, sow them ¼ to ½ inch deep in peat or coco pots — if you start them indoors early — or 6 inches apart if sowing directly in your chosen location.
- Once the plants have germinated and grown 3 or 4 inches, thin or transplant morning glory seedlings to stand 1 foot apart and harden any started indoors before transplanting.
- As they begin to twine, train their tips to wrap clockwise around their supports.
Can you grow Morning Glory in containers?
Morning glory also grow in containers if they are provided with supports such as garden stakes or pot trellis. For best results, choose pots at least 12 to 16 inches in diameter and place three vines – evenly spaced – in the smaller size and five in the larger. If you plan to include other non-morning glory plants in your containers, use short, branching species instead of twining Ipomoea species to prevent these other plants from being throttled. This can also help curb spread beyond the pot by seed or at ground level.
As enthusiasts have found, it is possible to bring morning glory indoors in pots and keep them alive on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights during the winter. But since these are essentially outdoor plants, most gardeners will find it easier to just sow more of them in the spring.
pour morning glory
Small morning glory seedlings need the same average amount of water you give other plants – usually the equivalent of 1 inch of rainfall per week. However, once the plants are mature they are relatively drought tolerant and can get by with less moisture, especially if you apply 2 or 3 inches of mulch after their soil has warmed up, which will help the soil retain its moisture. However, when the soil dries out so much that the foliage begins to wither, it’s time to water.
Fertilizing Morning Glorys
As mentioned earlier, morning glories do not require fertilizer, and high-nitrogen varieties can harm them by encouraging the vines to produce more foliage instead of flowers. If you must feed your morning glory, choose a low-nitrogen plant food where the middle (phosphorus) number of the formula is the highest. Only apply once a month, after plants have started flowering, and remember that too much unnecessary phosphorus can lead to environmentally harmful runoff.
Pruning morning glory
Since morning glory seeds are the most toxic part of the plant, it’s a good idea to top off the flowers as soon as they wither to prevent seeds from forming. In addition to keeping the plants flowering and looking tidy, such a dieback will also prevent them from self-seeding enough to become invasive. A morning glory vine requires no further pruning, but you may want to prune it back if it threatens to invade other garden plants and possibly strangle them.
increase of winds
If growing morning glory from seed, soak the seeds overnight before planting. Soaking should cause the seeds to swell and pop open easily. Then sow the seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep in seed starter mix or soil and keep them at temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Under these conditions, they usually germinate in 4 to 7 days.
If you’re starting out with particularly hard-shelled or downy morning glory seeds that don’t absorb water well, use a utility knife to cut a small piece out of the rounded edge of each seed before soaking the seeds.
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All parts of morning glory are poisonous, with the seeds being the most poisonous. When consumed, they can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and hallucinations in humans, pets, and livestock.
Therefore, you should refrain from morning glory if you have animals or children who tend to taste your garden plants. Some sources also recommend wearing gloves when pruning or tearing down the vines to prevent possible absorption of toxins through your skin.
Possible pests and diseases
Since morning glory is not susceptible to disease, the most common complaint about them is usually flowering failure. That could be because some species take a long time to flower. Other bloom-inhibiting factors besides immaturity are over-fertilization or insufficient sun exposure.
You can also lose seedlings if you eat rabbits or snails. To repel rabbits, sprinkle the plants with cayenne pepper immediately after exposure. To rid yourself of the slugs, apply slug bait to the soil following the instructions on the container. You may need to reapply both the pepper and snail bait after heavy rains.
Looking for more plants with showy blooms? Check out our installation guides gerberas, hibiscusAnd petunia.