Morning Glory Flowers

How to Grow These Glorious Annual Vines

Morning glory (image) is annual. It comes in various colors; I like blue flowered ones.
Morning glory is an annual vine. It comes in more than one color, but the ones with blue-colored flowers may be the most widely known. David Beaulieu

Classification of Morning Glory Flowers

Plant taxonomy classifies one of the most popular morning glory flowers as Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue'. The cultivar name befits this vine of sky-blue flowers.

Morning glories are annual vines. These twining climbers accomplish their ascent by winding their way skyward upon whatever support they can find. They belong to the Convolvulaceae family, a word that comes from the Latin, convolvere, meaning "to wind." The nuisance plant, bindweed is a relative.

Plant Characteristics

There is a good chance that 'Heavenly Blue' is the flowering vine you immediately think of when you hear "morning glories." But other types -- in other colors -- do exist, including vines with purple flowers. An example of the latter is Ipomoea purpurea 'Kniola's Black.'

Flowers last only a day. True to their name, the flowers open in the morning, then pucker up later in the day. Vine length averages about 10 feet, and morning glory leaves are heart-shaped. Vines may reseed.

Ipomoea tricolor is indigenous to tropical regions of the Americas. But these tropical flowers have long graced summer landscapes in cooler areas. Morning glory is the first vine to which many children in North America are introduced.

No doubt, the chief selling point of 'Heavenly Blue' is the beauty of its prolific flowers. Bell-shaped, the flowers are a striking sky-blue with lighter centers.

Sun and Soil Requirements, Uses in Landscaping

Grow morning glories in full sun and in a well-drained soil.

The vines tolerate poor soil. They have average water needs.

Morning glories attract butterflies and also draw hummingbirds.

A popular use for morning glory vines is as a privacy screen when grown upon lattice or chain-link fencing. It is also common to see morning glory vines growing on trellises and arbors.

If you can get them to cover an arbor completely, they will offer shade in late summer. These vines are often grown in containers, as are the other kinds of Ipomoea listed below.

Other Types of Ipomoea Commonly Used in North American Landscaping

A number of useful vines, besides 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory flowers, bear the genus name, Ipomoea, including:

  1. Ipomoea alba: moonflower
  2. Ipomoea x multifida: cardinal climber
  3. Ipomoea batatas: sweet potato vine

Plant Care and a Warning

Morning glory vines do not need much care. In fact, other than providing them with water, the main thing to remember is what not to do: fertilizing with a high-nitrogen fertilizer will cause your plants to grow mostly leaves and produce few flowers. Nitrogen is the first number in the NPK sequence on the label of a fertilizer bag.

Morning glory, famous or infamous for its hallucinogenic seeds, is considered a poisonous plant; keep children away from it.

Growing Morning Glory From Seed

The one drawback to growing morning glory vines is that, for an annual, they can take a long time to flower in some circumstances (mine typically do not bloom till August), unless you help them along a bit. This, despite the fact that many refer to them as "fast-growing" (which is, after all, a relative term).

You can encourage earlier blooming by starting morning glory plants inside from seed in peat pots filled with potting mix, then transplanting them outside after all danger of frost has passed.

Sow the seeds indoors about 3 weeks prior to the estimated last frost date in your region. Here's how to start morning glory flowers from seed:

  1. Keep seeds damp for 24 hours before planting
  2. Lightly scar the surface of the seeds
  3. Plant seeds a bit less than 1/2 inch deep and cover with potting mix
  4. Keep potting mix damp and warm (at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit).

Note: Not everyone has so much trouble getting their morning glory flowers to bloom at a reasonably early time in the summer. Reader Janet wrote to me in early July one year to observe:

"I live in Rhode Island and all my morning glories are now in bloom, both ones that volunteered from last year and ones that I did start indoors.

However, the volunteers were in bloom before the ones started indoors by a good 2 weeks. My morning glories get southern and western exposure. I have Heavenly Blue, Flying Saucers, and Grandpa Ott's."