Friendly Morning Glory Vines

colorful morning glory

Vines, like the Morning Glory are accommodating garden subjects. Similar to a Mandevilla vine they’ll adorn a trellis, arbor or pergola built especially for them.

Or they’ll drape gracefully over an old stump, rock pile, fence or shed, transforming an eyesore into a thing of beauty.

They’ll shield you from hot sun, screen of an ugly view, wrap leafy shawls around bare tree trunks, and trace lacy patterns over a wall of your house.

Some can keep steep banks from washing away; others spread a green blanket over ground that never supports grass.

Quick from Seed

Quickest, easiest and least expensive of all are annual vines – the kinds you grow just by planting seeds in the spring. Of this group morning-glories are tops, and I like particularly the varieties ‘Heavenly Blue,’ Blue Star,’ and ‘Pearly Gates.’

The first named, of course, is the marvelous big clear blue morning-glory widely known and planted over the country.

With the same vigorous growth habit, clean heart-shaped leaves and generous production of flowers, the other two differ only in color. ‘Pearly Gates’ is white and ‘Blue Star’ is pale blue with five deep blue mid-rib marks radiating from the throat.

All of these are so good that I repeat plantings of them year after year – sometimes keeping them separate and sometimes using them together, since they harmonize beautifully. No other varieties have performed as well, in my experience.

However, if you have room for lots of morning-glories, plant also the red-flowered ‘Red Picotee’ and the ‘Crimson Rambler.’ These are extremely pretty, if a little less floriferous – for me, at least – than the others mentioned.

Putting On The Flowers

To flower well, morning-glories need ample exposure to sunshine and a well drained not-too-rich soil.

In middle and southern areas it is just as well to seed them direct outside where they are to grow, after weather is settled and warm in the spring.

Where summers are short and cool, it pays to get an early start with them indoors. Plant two or three seeds a quarter inch deep in individual pots of porous soil at a sunny window. When they come up, thin to one strong plant to a container.

After weather is warm, shift the seedlings carefully to the ground without disturbing their roots.

From Tennessee and southward, there is no point in trying to get them into bloom so early in summer, as hot sunshine through that season makes the flowers close early in the mornings.

We have little time to enjoy them. In late summer and fall, though, and right on until a killing frost, they are wonderful. Colors get richer and deeper and blooms remain open longer as the autumn days get cooler.

Much has been written about withholding water and fertilizer from these vines, once they’ve attained maturity, to induce them to stop vegetative development and start blooming.

Undoubtedly this is important in areas having ample summer rainfall. Where I live we may go for weeks of hot weather with no rain, and I find it quite necessary to water my morning-glories. The lush vegetation over the bed transpires a lot of moisture.

Foliage wilts and lower leaves turn yellow and start dropping off if water isn’t supplied. While no fertilizer is given, I have a plastic “soil soaker” type of hose lying permanently along the narrow bed, and every three or four days in dry weather I let it run several hours to soak the ground.

Moonflowers The Morning Glory Companion

Used alone or as a “night shift” companion for morning-glories, the pure white moonflowers are treasure for those who can sit on a porch or terrace in the evenings and drink in their beauty and fragrance. For me they have nostalgic charm.

As a small boy vacationing in summer at my grandmother’s farm, I used to go at dusk to the moonflower vine covering a dead tree near the stables.

There I’d try to watch a dozen plump buds at once, to be sure of catching the magic moment when each chose to unfurl its silky membranes into an immaculate white disc. Once started, this intriguing performance proceeded with surprising speed – much in the manner of flowers in modern “time lapse” movies.

Though handled as annuals, moonflowers are tender perennials from the tropics, and are slower to bloom from seed than morning-glories.

Really at their best in Southern gardens, they are still worth while in the North if seeds are started early indoors in pots. To hasten germination, nick the side of each large, hard-shelled seed with a file or knife before planting.

Smaller in flower and not so valuable for screening purposes, cypress vine and cardinal climber are nevertheless nice to grow.

The former has delicate ferny leaves and red or white star flowers; the latter, somewhat coarser foliage but still finely cut, and one-inch red trumpets.

If you’ve already grown cardinal climber, this year try its ‘Hearts and Honey’ variant, which will give changeable flowers, ranging from pinkish orange to rose pink, with lighter contrasting centers.


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