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Morning Glory Flowers

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Picture of morning glory flower.

Picture of morning glory flower.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy for Morning Glory Flowers:

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

Plant Type:

Morning glories are annual vines. These climbers accomplish their ascent by twining their way skyward.

Characteristics:

There's 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. 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.

Morning Glory -- Tropical Flower:

Ipomoea tricolor vines are 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.

Sun and Soil Requirements:

Grow morning glory flowers in full sun and in a well-drained soil. The vines tolerate poor soil.

Uses for Morning Glory:

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

Other Types of Ipomoea:

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

  • Ipomoea alba: moonflower
  • Ipomoea x multifida: cardinal climber
  • Ipomoea batatas: sweet potato vine

Outstanding Characteristic:

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.

Care:

Morning glory vines don't 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.

Caveat: 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 don't bloom till August), unless you help them along a bit. 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 past.

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:

  • Keep seeds damp for 24 hours before planting
  • Lightly scar the surface of the seeds
  • Plant seeds a bit less than 1/2 deep and cover with potting mix
  • 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 Grampa Otts."

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