It’s been a really spectacular year for the morning glories in my garden! The vines I planted at the base of my fence this spring have quickly covered it with a mass of green smothered in blooms. Of all the vining plants I grow in my garden, morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor) are my favorite. Their beautiful blooms welcome me to the garden every morning, and the colorful, funnel-like flowers are adored by our resident hummingbirds.
Morning glories are fast-growing annual vines that quickly cover fences, trellises and arbors with their curling tendrils. Unlike some other vines, there’s no need to physically attach them to the structure; as long as there’s something for them to twine around, morning glories will climb on their own.
Growing Morning Glories
These vines are not tolerant of frost, so it’s important to wait until after the danger of frost has passed before planting them in the spring. Here in Pennsylvania, that means we don’t plant them until mid to late May. If you’re directly seeding them into the garden, you can expect your first blooms in early August, as most varieties take at least 80 days to reach maturity. To get a jumpstart on the flowering season, I start my morning glory seeds indoors, under grow lights, about a month to six weeks before planting them outside. I grow them in plantable peat pots to prevent disturbing the roots when I transplant them out into the garden.
Whether planted by direct seeding or seeded indoors under lights, I always pre-soak the morning glory seeds in warm water for 24 hours to soften the seed coat and speed germination. Another option is to nick the seed coat with a metal file before planting.
Words Of Warning
Because morning glory vines drop seeds when the flowers fade, I also always have a few that return on their own every year. The colors I get from these volunteer plants are always a gamble, but I enjoy seeing what comes up. This trait, however, can also make some morning glories invasive in certain climates, so use caution when planting them in places where winters do not drop below freezing. If you want to reduce the number of volunteer seedlings that spring up in your garden, be sure to pull the vines down and compost them in late summer, before they drop too many mature seeds. This simple practice reduces the plant’s occasional tendency to seed aggressively.
Another important point regarding morning glories is that their seeds are poisonous and care should be taken to keep them away from children and animals.
Choose Your Variety
Some of my favorite morning glory varieties include:
- Rebecca: This variety has a deep-purple flower with a radiant, silvery center—stunning!
- Clarke’s Heavenly Blue: The most gorgeous of all blues, in my opinion, this sky-blue beauty is so lovely.
- Grandpa Ott: An eggplant-purple flower covered with a velvety haze, this variety is a big hit with our hummingbirds.
- Chocolate: The huge blossoms of this variety are rose-pink with a white outer edge.
- Flying Saucer (pictured above): The white streaks are eye-catching against the blue flowers.