Beauty on the vine

Morning glories are beautiful old-fashioned plants that add color and vertical interest to any garden. They quickly cover arbors. trellises, screens, and other garden structure with dense lush foliage and large brilliantly colored trumpet shaped fragrant blooms. Morning glories are fast growing vines that attracts humming birds, butterflies, and ladybugs to its blue, pink, purple, red, white or multicolored flowers that unfurl in the morning sun. It has the tendency to open during the morning hours when the sun is up and closes at sun down which gave it the name. Morning glories with slender stems, heart-shaped leaves, their romantic tendrils lend it an old-fashioned charm. Morning glories are twining vines; they reach out, pirouetting in their pre-determined, typically clockwise direction looking for something to grab hold of. These plants are genetically programmed to grow and unfurl in one direction only. The tendrils are far stronger than they appear. Give them a trellis, a string, a post, a bamboo teepee, anything that will allow them to grow upward and grow they will.

Morning glory plant (Ipomoea purpurea or Convolvulus purpurea) are a common sight in many landscapes in any number of species within the Calystegia, Convolvulus, Ipomoea, Merrimia, Rivea, Astripomoea genera, the family Convolvulaceae. There are over 1000 species to the family. The Ipomoea genus is a large one with over 500 species, the familiar sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) being one of the notable, though less showy members. Morning glory includes perennials, biennials and annuals. Morning glories originated in the tropics where they are perennials. In colder climates, they are grown as annuals. But some species can survive the winter cold. There are some species, which are strictly annual (eg Ipomoea nil) producing many seeds, and some perennial species (eg Ipomoea indica) which are propagated through cuttings.

There are the night blooming species of the morning glory, Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba, Ipomoea muricata) feature fragrant flowers that open from sundown to sun rise. Some varieties are described as noxious weed in some areas. The fast growing vining plants can also make lovely additions to the garden, if kept in check.

Gardeners looking for a vigorous vine to cover a wall or trellis in only one season will be delighted with Ipomoea. Because of their fast growth, twining habit, attractive flowers and tolerance for dry soils, they are low maintenance. Except for Ipomoea alba which prefers rich soils, but most Ipomoea tricolor cultivars prefer soils not too rich, otherwise you will get an abundance of foliage and few flowers. They are not water lovers either, and will do with average precipitation. Some morning glories are excellent for creating shade on building walls when trellised, thus keeping the building cooler during the heat.

In tropical and subtropical regions, you can train as climbers over a pergola, an arch, or as dense groundcover. The vine grows quickly up to 15 feet in one season. Morning glories seeds are easy to direct sow in sunny gardens or containers, where once they takeoff, they bloom prolifically.

Popular varieties in contemporary cultivation include ‘Sun Spots’, ‘Heavenly Blue’, ‘Moonflower’, ‘the Cypress Vine’, and ‘Cardinal Climber’. The ‘Cypress Vine’ is a hybrid with the ‘Cypress Climber’ as one of the parents. Most of the cultivars on the market descended from Ipomoea tricolor. ‘Heavenly Blue’ are the classic morning glories with rich azure flowers with white throats. It climbs up to 12 feet. If you prefer red, purples as Ipomoea cultivar, you might like ‘Scarlet O’ Hara’, ‘Scarlet Star’, ‘Morning Star’, ‘Crimson Rambler’, or ‘Mt Fuji’, or ‘Grandpa Otts’. ‘Flying Saucers’ is a stunning mutation of ‘Pearly Gates’ which was a pure white mutation of ‘Heavenly Blue’.

MOONFLOWERS (IPOMOEA alba)
These are huge and vigorous vines that can grow 8-10 feet, so you’ll need a large trellis. Because they produce large spectacular white fragrant flowers as the sun goes down, and sometimes on cloudy days. Moonflowers are perfect to grow in an outdoor eating area, near a bedroom window, where their fragrance can sweeten the night air. Try growing morning glory with moonflower for a continuous spectacular flowering display. The morning glory will flower all day and then the moonflower will take over as the sun goes down and last through the night till sunrise.

Regardless of what cultivar you choose, you won’t be disappointed in the irrepressible climber that well deserves it’s name, ‘Morning Glory’.



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