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How to Grow: Morning Glory
Learn about growing morning glories including information on varieties.
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Common morning glory
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Mid summer until fall in colors of blue, pink, red, white, purple, and bi colors
Mature Height x Spread
6 to 15 feet x 1 to 2 feet
attracts beneficials, attracts hummingbirds
Morning glories are popular annual vines for growing up a fence, arbor, trellis or arch. There are also selections that grow well in containers on a deck or patio. The heart-shaped leaves form on quick growing stems reaching up to 15 feet tall. They can become a mass of leaves and flowers by late summer. The flowers, in colors from white to purple, begin forming in mid-summer and continue until frost. As the name implies, morning glory flowers open in the morning and close in the afternoon. The large, colorful flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Morning glories also self-sow readily so they will surprise you each year as new plants pop up in different parts of the garden.
Where, When and How to Plant
The easiest way to plant morning glories is to direct sow seeds into well-drained soil after the last frost date. To ensure quick germination, nick the seeds with a nail file and soak seeds in warm water the night before sowing. The seeds will take up water quickly and germinate faster in the ground. You can also buy transplants in garden centers if you’re only growing a few plants. Plant in a full sun location only a few inches from a place where your morning glory vines can climb. In a container, erect a trellis or grow them near a railing so they can be supported.
Keep young seedlings well watered. Although morning glories grow best on fertile soil, don’t over fertilize your plants or you’ll get mostly leaves, fewer flowers and they will bloom later in the season. Keep the plants weeded.
Regional Advice and Care
Grow morning glory vines to climb up a trellis, fence or arch. Remove or redirect errant vines. Morning glories twine around a support and don’t cling like a grape vine, so they grow quickest around narrow diameter fences, poles, and trellises. Protect morning glory vines from a frost and they will continue to bloom into the fall.
Companion Planting and Design
Grow morning glory vines together with different colored varieties. You can grow a trellis of red, white and blue morning glories if you’re feeling patriotic. They don’t partner well with other annual or perennials flowers since their growth can overwhelm those plants. However, they can grow well with evergreen shrubs, such as junipers and yews, providing a pleasant surprise of color against the green foliage.
‘Heavenly Blue’ is a popular baby blue colored morning glory with large flowers. ‘Scarlett ‘O’Hara’ is a common bright red variety. ‘Grandpa Otts’ is one of my favorites. This is an heirloom variety that has deep purple flowers with rose star patterns on the petals with a pink throat. ‘Red Picotee’ is a newer variety with white edges on the petals and a double flower. This variety only grows 6 feet tall.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.
Walt Whitman once said, “A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.” I’d have to agree. Morning glories are bright, cheery, and inspirational. It’s a good day that starts out with the glimpse of an open morning glory blossom.
Morning glories are in the Ipomea genus that features other common garden plants such as sweet potatoes and moon flowers. Although primarily grown as an ornamental and somewhat as a food crop, some species of these vines were used as a hallucinogens by the Aztecs.
It’s probably safer just to grow them for their beauty. There are many vining varieties including the heirloom ‘Grandpa Ott’, with dark velvety purple flowers. ‘Heavenly Blue’ has sky blue petals, and ‘Glacier Star’ has blue and white blooms. There’s even a bush variety, ‘Blue Ensign’ that’s great for containers and window boxes.
Grow morning glory vines in full sun in fertile soil. However, too much nitrogen leads to lots of leaf growth with few flowers. Start seeds indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost or sow them in the ground now. Nick the seed with a file and soak them overnight in warm water to enhance germination.
Grow morning glory where they will be happy climbing such as a mailbox, pergola, trellis or fence. They always climb clockwise, opening in the morning and closing by afternoon. Hummingbirds and butterflies love the flowers. Morning glories self sow readily, so be prepared to weed out seedlings next spring in that area. While they look good on their own, grow morning glory vines near evergreen shrubs such as junipers and yews. Let the vine crawl through the plants to surprise you with their blooms.
From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.