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Morning Glories: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Morning Glory Flowers | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Morning Glories

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Pixabay
Botanical Name
Ipomoea tricolor, I. purpurea
Plant Type
Sun Exposure
Bloom Time
Flower Color
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How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Morning Glories

Catherine Boeckmann
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How do you plant and care for morning glories? These strong climbers have beautifully shaped blooms that unfurl in the sun and romantic tendrils that lend old-fashioned charm. Learn all about growing morning glories in your garden!

About Morning Glories

Morning glories bloom from early summer to the first frost of fall. With slender stems and heart-shaped leaves, their trumpet-shaped flowers come in colors of pink, purple-blue, magenta, or white. Their fragrant, colorful flowers are not only attractive to our eyes but also beloved by butterflies and hummingbirds.

Train twining morning glory vines over a pergola or arch, or use as a dense groundcover. This drought-tolerant plant grows quickly—up to 10 feet in one season—and can self-seed fairly easily, too. Because of this, you’ll want to choose where you put this plant wisely! Otherwise, you may end up with more morning glories than you bargained for.

Warning: Morning glory seeds are poisonous, especially in large quantities. Keep them out of reach of children and pets. Learn more

What’s the Difference Between Morning Glory and Bindweed?

The attractive annual morning glory (Ipomoea spp.) is often mistaken for its perennial cousin, field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), which is an aggressive, invasive weed native to Europe and Asia. Field bindweed—also called “perennial morning glory” or “creeping jenny”—grows similarly to annual morning glories, but sends out deep, deep roots, which make it very difficult to get rid of and allow it to overwinter in areas where cultivated morning glories could not. 

To tell the difference between the plants, look closely at the leaves, flowers, and vines:

  • Field bindweed leaves are typically smaller than those of annual morning glories. Morning glory leaves may be 2 inches or more across; bindweed leaves rarely exceed 2 inches. Bindweed leaves are also shaped more like an arrowhead than those of morning glories, which are heart shaped.
  • Field bindweed flowers only occur in either pink or white, whereas annual morning glory flowers may be pink, white, magenta, blue, purple, or red, and are much larger than those of the bindweed.
  • Morning glory vines are usually thicker than bindweed’s vines, and typically have small hairs.

In any case, if you come across a plant in your garden that resembles morning glory and you know you didn’t plant it, it’s best to err on the side of caution and treat it as a weed. 

Planting

Grow morning glories in a sunny spot. They need a lot of sun to bloom their best!

Plant in moderately fertile, well-draining soil to encourage good foliage growth followed by plenty of flowers.

Finally, choose a location that is sheltered from strong, drying winds. Give them a fence, lattice, or trellis to climb up so that vines don’t crowd out other ground-level plants.

When to Plant Morning Glories

  • Sow morning glory seeds in late spring or early summer, once the ground has warmed to about 64°F (18°C).
  • Morning glories are tender annuals, so they are sensitive to cool temperatures and late frosts. 

Morning Glories

How to Plant Morning Glories

  • Germination rates are improved by filing down the seeds just enough to break the outer coat, then soaking them for 24 hours before planting. This encourages them to send out a root (it looks like a little worm). 
  • Cover lightly with 1/4-inch of soil. Space seeds about 6 inches apart.
  • Water thoroughly at planting.
  • Seedlings should appear in about a week.
Growing
  • Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer after planting. Do not over-fertilize, or the vine may grow more foliage than flowers.
  • Support this climbing plant with structures like trellises, pergolas, or arches.
    • Tip: Morning glories climb by twining their vines around a support, so make sure that whichever type of structure you grow them against has plenty of space for whorling! 
  • Morning glories are low maintenance; just be sure to water during particularly dry periods.
  • Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • If you don’t want the plant to reseed itself, just pinch off old flowers before they turn into seedpods. This can also encourage the plant to keep producing more flowers. 

Purple morning glory

Wit and Wisdom
  • Morning glories are one of September’s birth flowers.
  • If you’ve ever grown sweet potatoes, you may notice a resemblance between their leaves and flowers and those of the morning glory. Unsurprisingly, the plants are related; both belong to the genus Ipomoea.
Pests/Diseases

Morning glories are fast growing and are rarely bothered by pests or diseases to a significant extent.

Morning Glory Pests and Diseases

Pest/Disease Type Symptoms Control/Prevention
Aphids Insect Misshapen/yellow leaves; distorted flowers; leaf drop; sticky “honeydew” (excretion) on leaves; sooty, black mold Knock off with water spray; apply insecticidal soap; inspect new plants carefully; use slow-release fertilizers; avoid excess nitrogen; encourage aphid predators such as lacewings, ladybugs, spiders
Fusarium wilt Fungus Plants wilt (sometimes one-sided) in daytime; later, entire plant wilts/dies; stunting; yellow leaves; poor flowering; roots rot; stem cross-section reveals brown discoloration Destroy infected plants/ roots/surrounding soil (do not compost); remove plant debris regularly; disinfect tools; resistant varieties; avoid excess nitrogen; in acidic soils, raise pH to 7.0; weed; 3- to 5-year rotation
Leaf miners Insect Meandering blisters in leaves caused by tunneling larvae Remove infested leaves; weed; use row covers; till soil early in season; rotate plantings
Leaf spot (fungal) Fungus Varies; leaf spots on lower leaves enlarge and turn brown/black; fuzzy growth or pustules in lesions; disease progresses upward; leaves die Destroy infected leaves/ severely infected plants (do not compost); remove plant debris regularly; disinfect tools; resistant varieties; good air circulation; avoid overhead watering
Rust Fungus Varies; orange pustules on undersides of lower leaves/stems; spots on upper leaf surfaces; foliage distorts/ dies/drops; stunting; poor flowering; plants weakened Destroy infected parts/severely diseased plants; remove plant debris regularly; disinfect tools; resistant varieties; good air circulation; avoid overhead watering; weed

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