Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Morning Glories
Morning glories are annual climbers with slender stems, heart-shaped leaves, and trumpet-shaped flowers of pink, purple-blue, magenta, or white. They have beautifully-shaped blooms that unfurl in the sun and romantic tendrils that lend old-fashioned charm.
Train morning glories over a pergola or arch, or use as a dense groundcover. The vine grows quickly—up to 15 feet in one season—and can self-seed fairly easily, too. Therefore, choose where you put this plant wisely!
Note: Morning glory seeds are poisonous, especially in large quantities. Keep them out of reach of children and pets. Learn more.
Is it Morning Glory or Bindweed?
Annual morning glories (Ipomoea spp.) are often mistaken for their 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 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 may have small hairs.
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).
Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site
- Grow morning glories in a sunny site. They need a lot of sun to bloom their best!
- Plant in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.
- Choose a site that is sheltered from strong, drying winds.
How to Plant Morning Glories
- Germination rates are improved by filing down the seeds just enough to break the coat, then soaking them for 24 hours before planting. This encourages them to send out a root. (They look like little worms!)
- Cover lightly with ¼-inch of soil. Space about 6 inches apart.
- Water thoroughly at planting.
Growing Morning Glories
- Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer after planting. Do not over-fertilize, or the vine may grow more foliage than flowers.
- Support climbers and trailing species with structures like trellises, pergolas, or arches.
- Tip: Morning glories climb by twining their vines (like peas or beans) 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 dry periods.
- Mulch to retain moisture and avoid weeds.
- If you don’t want the plant to reseed itself, just snip off old flowers before they turn into seedpods.
- ‘Heavenly Blue’ are the classic morning glories with the rich azure (blue) flowers with white throats. It climbs to 12 feet.
- ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ has bright red flowers with a white throat. It climbs to 15 feet.
- Here are more Recommended Morning Glory Varieties!
‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory. Photo by Heike Loechel/Wikimedia Commons.