Care-free vines: The options and benefits of the beloved morning glory

Care-free vines: The options and benefits of the beloved morning glory

Morning glory has been a favourite in summer gardens since the 1930s when the sky blue, trumpet-shaped flowers came hit the market. This early-flowering beauty opened the way for hybrids with eight-centimetre-wide (3.25-inch-wide) blossoms in a rainbow of colours.

With options such as white ‘Pearly Gates,’ purple ‘Grandpa Ott’s, ‘ rose ‘Scarlett O’Hara,’ and ‘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, so you can enjoy more of their beauty.

Moonflower (I. alba) is grown for its large, sweet-scented, white flowers, which unfurl at dusk to reveal saucer-like, 15-centimetre-wide (six-inch-wide) blossoms.

This rapid grower can climb to three metres (10 feet) in a growing season and reach 12 metres (40 feet) in frost-free areas.

Japanese morning glories (I. × imperialis) climb to little more than one metre (three feet). They have funnel-shaped flowers up to 15 centimetres (six inches) across in a lovely range of colours 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.

Care-free vines: The options and benefits of the beloved morning glory
Care-free vines: The options and benefits of the beloved morning glory

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.

Growing them in rich soil or feeding heavily while growing results in excessive foliage and few flowers.

Space seeds eight centimetres (3.25 inches) apart and cover them with 1.5 centimetres (0.75 inches) of soil.

Keep the soil moist until plants are up and growing.

Thin seedlings to 25 centimetres (10 inches) apart when they are 10 centimetres (four inches) tall and fertilize them once with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, as directed on the package.

Watch out for these pests

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 insecticide as directed on the label.

ATTRIBUTES Fast-growing foliage, and trumpet-shaped flowers; for trellises, fences


TYPE OF VINE Annual or tender perennial; climbs by twining

FAVOURITES ‘Heavenly Blue’, ‘Scarlett O’Hara’, ‘Pearly Gates’; I. alb., I. × imperiali.

QUIRKS Flowers open in the morning and close by mid-afternoon

GOOD NEIGHBOURS 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



DIMENSIONS1–4.5 m (3-15 ft)

These climbers are good for hiding fences

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.

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