Fundamental Facts

PREFERRED SOIL TYPE: Average to poor
ATTRIBUTES: Fast-growing foliage, and trumpet-shaped flowers; for trellises, fences
TYPE OF VINE: Annual or tender perennial; climbs by twining
FAVORITES: 'Heavenly Blue', 'Scarlett O'Hara', 'Pearly Gates', I. alba, I. x imperialis
QUIRKS: Flowers open in the morning and close by mid-afternoon
GOOD NEIGHBORS: Makes a good background for flowering annuals and perennials
WHERE IT GROWS BEST: Sun and well-drained, average to poor soil
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: Beetles; blooms poorly when grown in shade
RENEWING PLANTS: Sow seeds in spring
DIMENSIONS: 3-15 ft (1-4.6 m) long

Morning Glory in the Landscape

Morning glory has been a favorite in the summer garden since the 1930s, when Ipornoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue', with its sky blue, trumpet-shaped flowers, came on the market.This early-flowering beauty opened the way for hybrids with 3 in (7.6 cm) wide blossoms in a rainbow of colors, such as white 'Pearly Gates', purple
'Grandpa Ott's', rose 'Scarlett O'Hara', and red 'Crimson Rambler'. Morning glories are named for the fact that the flowers open in early morning and close by noon, with new buds opening daily. Newer cultivars have been bred to stay open longer.

Grow these vines on a trellis or fence, or let them twine around strings stretched from the ground to the edge of a porch roof. Few other vines work as well as morning glories for disguising a chain-link fence.

All in the Family

Moonflower (I. alba) is grown for its large, sweet-scented, white flowers, which unfurl at dusk to reveal saucer-like, 6 in (15.2 cm) wide blossoms. This rapid grower can climb to 10 ft (3 m) in a growing season and reach 40 ft (12.2 m) in frost-free areas.

Japanese morning glories (I. x imperialis) climb to only 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m). They have funnel-shaped flowers up to 6 in (15.2 cm) across in a lovely range of colors from pale pink to deep maroon, often with a white edging. Many varieties also have leaves variegated with white flecks and splashes. They're easy to grow and particularly stunning when combined with flowering annuals in containers.

Growing Morning Glory

Morning glories are easy to raise from seeds planted in garden soil after the last frost has passed. To improve sprouting, scratch through the hard covering, or seed coat, which helps the seeds soak up water. Rub the large seeds over coarse sandpaper or nick them with a nail file, just until you see flecks of white beneath the dark seed coat. Drop the seeds into a cup of tepid water and soak them overnight. In the morning, drain and plant the seeds according to packet directions.

Grow morning glories in sun and warm soil of average to poor fertility: Space seeds 3 in (7.6 cm) apart and cover them with 1/2 in (1.3 cm) of soil. Keep the soil moist until plants are up and growing. Thin seedlings to 10 in (25.4 cm) apart when they are 4 in (10.2 cm) tall and fertilize them once with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, as directed on the package.

Mostly care-free, this vine can be chewed by night-flying beetles, which cause temporary cosmetic damage. Day-feeding Japanese beetles are more serious. Pick them off early in the morning, when they are sluggish, or control them with a botanical neem-based insecticide as directed on the label. Apply the biologic control milky spore disease to lawns as directed in spring to control beetle grubs.

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