A vigorous vine, morning glory is one of the favorite flowers amongst novice gardeners because it is pretty much easy to grow. The requirements are very basic and minimal care will be necessary. It produces large flowers with a distinct fragrance, making it an excellent addition to the garden. As self-seeding annuals, they will produce colorful blooms in the same position year after year.
Thinking of planting morning glory? Clueless of how to get started? Curious about the different varieties that are available? Keep on reading the rest of this post and we’ll share with you all things about morning glories.
Background and History
Morning glory belongs to the Convolvulaceae family and is a common name that refers to more than a thousand species of flowering plants and more than fifty genera. Some of the most popular genera under this group of plants include Rivea, Merremia, Ipomoea, and Calystegia, among others.
Morning glory also has a rich history, which is a native to China. Its initial uses were for alternative medicine, especially because the seeds can be used as a laxative. In the 9th century, it found its way in Japan where it became popular as an ornamental flower. The Japanese were the ones who were most active in developing varieties of the plant. The Japanese name of morning glory is asagao, which literally means morning face. In Mexico, Aztec priests are known for using morning glory because of its hallucinogenic effects.
Morning glory is also a symbolic flower. It has a calming effect, making it a great choice for an ornamental plant if you want to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. It is also a symbol of unrequited life. In Christian beliefs, this is also associated with the finite nature of life, which is basically because of the limited time that the flower blooms. However, the meaning of the flower can be different depending on its color.
Physical Characteristics of Morning Glory
One of the most important things to know about morning glory is that it has finite blooms, which is actually the reason behind its name. The flowers bloom early in the morning. When the petals curl, the flowers will fade. This is perhaps the reason why many people link the flower to the finite nature of human life.
The flowers of morning glory are trumpet-like and the colors will vary, but the most common include pink, purple, violet, red, blue, magenta, and white. The foliage, meanwhile, is dark or medium green. Depending on the variety, there are also some flowers with 5-pointed star markings in their petals. While they open in full sun, when the weather is too hot, they start to shrivel.
Morning glory is a crawling vine, which makes it important to have the space that they need to grow. You must also provide support and trellis to keep the plant in a compact shape. They can have an average spread of six to ten feet.
Varieties of Morning Glory
Before you plant morning glory in the garden, one thing that needs careful attention would be the variety to choose. In this case, the following are some of the options that you will have:
- Scarlett o’Hara
- La Vie en Rose
- Venice Blue
- Grandpa Ott
- Crimson Rambler
- Shadow Dance
- Early Call
- Flying Saucer
- Kikyo-Zaki Mix
Being around since 1931, this is the most popular from all the varieties of morning glory. It features sky blue blooms with a white throat. The vine can reach a maximum height of up to 12 feet.
Named after the infamous character from Gone With The Wind, It has a wine red flower with a pure white center to create the perfect contrast. This climbing plant can easily spread at a width of ten to 15 feet.
The flowers of this variety can be a combination of shades of red, pink, crimson, or rose. On average, it will take about five months before its flowers will start to bloom. The height, on the other hand, can reach five to six feet.
With bright violet-blue flowers, this is one variety that is sure to command attention. It has a rosy throat that provides it with a delicate appearance. As a strong climber, the length of the vine can reach up to 12 feet.
An American heirloom, this variety produces heart-shaped flowers, with the most common color being royal purple with a pink throat. The height of the vine can reach 12 to 15 feet.
If you want a morning glory with bolder color, this will make a great choice. The flowers are deep cherry on the outside and there is a white throat in the center. This is a vigorous vine that can grow up to 12 feet.
The best thing about this variety is that it produces blooms with two distinct colors. Some are dark midnight blue with a purple center while other blooms are pure white. This is more compact than most morning glories as the average height is only five to seven feet.
This is different to most morning glories in the sense that the flower and the leaves are generally smaller. In terms of height, it is also shorter. This vine can grow to a maximum height of only five feet. It has a citrusy-orange color and is an excellent way to attract hummingbirds in the garden.
This is one of the easiest varieties to grow, making it the perfect choice for novice gardeners. The flowers bloom in different colors, mostly in the shades of blue, red, rose, white, and pink. It can grow with a spread of up to ten feet.
From its name, you might already have an idea of how its flowers look like. They bloom like flying saucers in pure white color with blue stripes. The flowers are already showy and can reach a diameter of up to six inches.
Its appearance is quite different compared to most of the morning glory varieties. The flowers are star-shaped with white edges. They have semi-double flowers and are available in a range of vibrant colors.
Uses and Applications
The following are some of the most common uses of morning glory:
- Ornamental Plant: This is one thing that is pretty much obvious. With the showy and attractive blooms of this plant, it will surely make the garden more attractive. The flowers can also be preserved to make them last longer if they will be used for decorative purposes.
- Laxative: Since the ancient times, morning glory is a popular laxative in Chinese medicine. The seeds are believed to be effective in the improvement of bowel movements, preventing problems like constipation.
- Hallucination: For a long time now, morning glories are also popular for their hallucinogenic properties. There are some varieties producing seeds that contain Lysergic Acid Amide, which is basically the one responsible for hallucination.
While there are flowers with culinary applications, this does not hold true in the case of morning glory. It contains toxic compounds and can lead to poisoning. To add, while the seeds have hallucinogenic effects, consuming too much can lead to problems like diarrhea.
How to Plant Morning Glories
The easiest way to propagate morning glory is from seeds. While you can opt to harvest seeds from pods, it is better if you will purchase them from a reputable supplier. Choose a variety that you want to grow. Before planting the seeds, you can nick them and soak in water. This will allow the outer coating to become softer, and hence, will speed up the germination period.
Aside from choosing the right seeds, it is also important to choose the perfect timing of planting the seeds. The best time to plant the seeds is just after the last frost. This will make the soil warm and the external environment will be more favorable as there is no more threat of frost. If you are planting indoors, on the other hand, you can start four to six weeks before the last frost.
Now, start with the site preparation. If you are growing morning glory in a container or pot, choose one that is big enough to accommodate its growth. The width should be at least two feet and the height should be three feet. Transplanting is not good for morning glories because they have sensitive roots. With this, make sure to choose a permanent location. Since they are crawling vines that can grow up to 15 feet, it may be best to plant them in the garden than in a pot.
The quality of the soil is another thing that requires attention when growing morning glories. They need to have a well-draining soil. To achieve a high quality potting medium, it would be best to combine three parts soil with one part perlite. It will also be good if the soil is loamy.
Now that everything is ready, you can start planting. Create shallow holes, at least ½ inch. You can use your fingers to poke the soil to create a hole. Sow one seed in each hole. Make sure to pay attention to the right amount of spacing, which will depend on the variety that you have.
Common Pests and Diseases
While morning glory is a plant that requires minimal maintenance on your end, it is important to note that the external environment can damage its overall health. Fungal diseases, for instance, can lead to loss of vigor and other problems that will affect mostly the aesthetics of the plant. Some of the most common diseases include rust and canker. On the other hand, the pests can also cause an infestation, such as spider mites, aphids, and leaf miners. The best way to prevent these problems is to use biological and natural control methods, which will prevent toxicity.
How to Take Care of Morning Glories
For your morning glory to grow fully and to be healthy, below are some of the most important things you have to keep in mind:
- Choose the right location of the plant. It will need full sun exposure for its healthy growth. This is especially important if they are young. The shade should only be minimal. If growing the plant indoors, position it in the windowsill where the sun shines.
- Aside from sunlight, water is another essential growing requirement. Water from the top of the soil and not the top of the plant. Keep the soil moist, but never soggy. It is also important that there are drainage holes if you will plant the morning glory in pots.
- You also need to provide support or climbing structure as the plant grows. A stake or a trellis will be necessary to establish the growth of the plant. If you want a cascading effect, on the other hand, you can choose to grow morning glory in a hanging basket.
- While you can use fertilizer to provide the plants with the nutrients it needs, be careful to not overdo it. During the growing season, limit the use of fertilizer to once a month. Overfertilizing will encourage too much growth of leaves without flowering.
- Make sure to immediately get rid of any dead part of the plant, especially leaves and flowers. They can be a sign of disease or pest infestation. If you do not remove them the soonest possible time, the problem can spread to the healthy parts of the plant.
Harvesting Morning Glories
Here, we will not talk about how to harvest the flower from the plant. Instead, we will tackle how to harvest the seeds from the flower. Do not harvest the seeds from pods that are already ripe. You cannot use them to propagate new morning glories. Rather, harvest the seeds only when the pods become dry and brown. Crack the pods to open. Look for small black seeds and discard those with a light color. Keep the seeds and use it for planting by following the simple steps that we have earlier discussed.
In sum, growing morning glory at home does not need to be a hard task. With patience and minimal effort to spare, it will be easy for your labor to bear fruit. Among others, full sun is the most important requirement, which is why it is best to grow the plant outdoors. It thrives well in loamy soil that is well-draining, which will prevent root rot. It also needs moisture to grow in a manner that is healthy.