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Morning glory: planting, care, growing

The morning glories
bloom, securing the gate
in the old fence.
Matsuo Basho

Morning glory flowerThis haiku of Matsuo Basho, the Japanese poet, is dedicated to ipomea plant, or water convolvulus. It is the most numerous genus of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae. There are more than five hundred species in this genus. Its representatives grow in tropical and subtropical regions of the world and the genus comprises perennial and annual plants, bushes, trees and lianas. In the genus of ipomea there are even representatives of food crops – sweet potato and water spinach. The name “ipomea” is derived from two Greek words: “ips” means “worm” and “homoios” means “similar”.

So the name means “worm-like” and this definition refers to the rhizome of perennial plants of the ipomea genus. In floriculture, lianas of this genus are mostly used. In the morning its flowers open earlier than all other flowers and that is why morning glory is called “the flower of the morning dawn”. It is difficult to imagine that field convolvulus, the weed and the farmer's nightmare, is a close relative of the luxurious morning glory that is such a popular ornamental plant among flower growers and gardeners.

Description of morning-glory flower

Morning-glory plant that grows in our gardens is a garden ipomea, liana, that grows up to 16.4 ft. Stems are dense, heart-shaped. Large fragrant flowers are on long pedicels, abundantly covering the stems, open early in the morning and turn behind the sun until they close at noon, although on an overcast day they close only in the evening. The shape of the flowers of morning glory that can be simple or double resembles a gramophone pipe. The color of flowering can be any: white, red, pink, blue, etc. Morning glory blooms from the beginning of summer until frosts. In the tropical area morning glory is grown as a perennial plant, while in our gardens it is grown as an annual plant.

Species and varieties of morning glory

There are more than 500 species of morning glory, but only 25 of them are cultivated. We are going to briefly describe the most popular of them.

Cairo morning-glory (Ipomoea cairica)

comes from Asia and Australia, its shoots grow up to 16.4 ft. They are so densely covered with blue flowers that morning glory looks like a real carpet. Leaves are laciniate, palmate, sectile.

Cairo morning-glory (Ipomoea cairica)

Purple morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea)

is an annual liana, its downy stem reaches 26 ft in height. Leaves are smooth, oval or lanceolate, opposite. Single flowers-gramophones are red, dark purple, purple, blue, white or pink. Flowers are up to 2.7 inches long. There are varieties with variegated and double flowers. Purple morning glory is native to the tropical regions of America. Its varieties are Starfish, Scarlett O'Hara, Night, Giselle.

Purple morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea)

Ivy morning glory (Ipomoea nil, Ipomoea Іmperialis)

or Japanese morning glory (morning face) is a strongly branched annual liana up to 9.8 ft long. The leaves are large, broadly oval, opposite, long-petioled, dark green in color. Funnel-shaped flowers are red, light or dark blue, pink or purple. Its diameter is up to 3.9 inches. Morning glory blooms from the middle of summer till October. The varieties are Picotee with semi-double, blue or red with white edging flowers, Serenade that is a hybrid with double wavy flowers of dark red or lilac color, the diameter of flowers is 3 inches.

Ivy morning glory (Ipomoea nil, Ipomoea Іmperialis)

Mexican morning glory, or grannyvine (Ipomoea tricolor)

comes from the tropics of America. It is a perennial plant that is cultivated as an annual plant. The stem reaches a length of 13-16 ft. The leaves are large, opposite, heart-shaped, smooth, wrinkled, petioles are long. Funnel-shaped flowers are 3-4 inches in diameter, they are collected in bundles of 3-4 pieces. The flowers are light blue with a white tube, but when they fade, they become pink and purple. This morning glory blooms from the beginning of June till the first frosts. Some varieties contain psychotropic substances that are used in medicine. The varieties that are widely cultivated are Pink Lollipop, Blue Star, Sky Blue, Flying Saucer.

Mexican morning glory, or grannyvine (Ipomoea tricolor)

Ivy-leaved morning glory (Ipomoea hederacea)

is an annual liana from the American tropics. The branching stem reaches 6.5-10 ft in length, the leaves are large, cordate, trilobate, look like ivy leaves. Funnel-shaped flowers are about 2 inches in diameter. They are usually sky-blue, sometimes with a white border, but they can also be red, burgundy, pink. There are two or three flowers on a long peduncle. It blooms from July till the middle of autumn. The variety Roman Candy has variegated white-green leaves and it is grown as a trailing plant.

Ivy-leaved morning glory (Ipomoea hederacea)

Moon vine (Ipomoea noctiflora)

also comes from tropical America. The stem is up to 9.8 ft in length, shoots are up to 19.6 ft, large leaves are heart-shaped, fragrant white flowers are also large and up to 3.9 inches in diameter. It opens at night and closes with the first rays of the sun. People that do not know this peculiarity of the morning glory often ask why their plant does not bloom. But on a cloudy day the flowers close only in the evening, and you can appreciate their amazing delicate beauty. This morning glory blooms from July-August till October.

Cypress vine

is a morning glory with a delicate laced foliage and small flowers of a tubular form. The most popular varieties are quamoclit pennata, Slaughter quamoclit, or cardinal vine liana (quamoclit x sloteri), fiery-red quamoclit and quamoclit lobata.

Cypress vine (Quamoclit)

In addition to the described species and their varieties, there are such less popular varieties as Brazilian morning-glory, ipomea digitata, giant potato, fire vine and others.

Growing of morning glory from seeds

Morning glory grown from seeds: sowing

Morning glory is propagated by seeds that retain their germinating capacity for 3-4 years after harvesting. Sowing of morning glory seeds in the substrate is carried out in the middle of May, but before sowing the seeds should be scarified (break the integrity of the membrane) or simply soaked in the water at a temperature of 77-86 ºF for a day for swelling. If seeds do not swell, their membrane must be pierced with a needle and then the seeds should be soaked again.

Morning glory seeds

Special attention should be paid to the composition of the soil, and here we have some difficulties as each species requires a certain type of substrate. Species of African origin prefer the soil for succulent plants with the addition of fine expanded clay. The American varieties do not like such a mixture, and you will have to prepare a substrate for them consisting of two parts of leaf humus, one part of peat, vermiculite, coir fiber and half part of fine claydite.

2-4 seed grains are planted in small cups with a substrate. The cup should be covered with glass or foil to make a little hothouse. Water the soil as needed, aerate it, remove condensation, keep 64-68ºF temperature, and the seedlings will appear in 10-12 days.

Seedlings of morning glory

When seedlings reach 6 inches in height, a string is fastened to the base of the sprout, the second end of which is pulled upwards and fixed: a little seedling will climb along this string. As seedlings grow, it will have to be transferred once or twice into larger containers for the roots not to be damaged or denuded. If you want to get more lateral shoots, you need to pinch the seedlings.

Seedling of the morning glory

Planting of morning glory

When to plant morning glory

Planting of morning glory seedlings in the open ground is carried out in late May or early June. At this time the soil has already been warmed up and there is no threat of night frosts that can destroy a young liana.

How to plant morning glory

Young shoots are repotted at a distance of 8 inches from each other and immediately a support should be arranged: it can be a grid or a stretched fishing line.

Morning glory flower

You can sow seeds directly in the open ground, skipping the seedling period. You should do this at the end of May after the last night frosts, choosing a sunny and windless planting place. Morning glory prefers a weakly acidic soil and requires good drainage. Whatever method of planting you choose, be careful since morning glory is very poisonous. That is why it is grown outdoors.

Morning glory – care

How to care for morning glory

Care for the morning glory is simple: water regularly, but moderately to avoid water stagnation in the roots; from May to August the plant should be water without waiting for the soil to dry up, and from September the plant is watered when the soil is dry. Feed the plant during the period of active growth every 2-3 weeks with the fertilizer for ornamental flowering plants or for cacti. However, an excess of fertilizers, especially nitrogenous, can lead to intense foliage formation, and as a result morning glory does not bloom, so it is important to keep within limits when feeding. Concentration of fertilizers should be as for indoor plants.

Ipomoea flowers

From time to time, morning glory needs pruning: it is necessary to remove damaged or diseased shoots. It is better to prune the vine in September, bringing the plant in order before the dormant period. In spring, pruning is performed to thin the bush, leaving no more than three stems. Sometimes it is necessary to thin morning glory during the vegetation period.

Propagation of morning glory by cuttings

Some species of morning glory (e.g., batata) are propagated vegetatively with the help of cuttings. Make cuttings from the cut shoots 6-8 inches long with two internodes, the lower cut must pass at an angle of 45º and 0.6 inch lower the node. After removing the leaves from the lower part, the cuttings are put in water. Roots appear very quickly in 3-5 days, and shoots can immediately be transplanted into the soil and grow at a temperature of 68-77° F. The cuttings fully root in a week. Timing of the rooting of cuttings are March-April (rooting of green cuttings) and summer months (rooting of both green and semi-lignified cuttings).

Pests and diseases of morning glory

The diseases of morning glory are fungal diseases (white rust, anthracnose, various kinds of rot – root, stem, black, soft), viral diseases (about twenty different viruses) and physiological disease white swelling. Fungal diseases usually infect plants through the ground, especially in case of constant over-wetting. Some fungal diseases can be cured by removing rotted places and treating with fungicide, but such diseases as soft, root and stem rot are not cured, so the infected plants must be destroyed. Viral diseases are also not treated: infected plants need to be burned in order not to infect healthy ones. White swelling is not an infectious disease, in addition, only plants that grow in a greenhouse or indoors suffer from it. It occurs when the plant is too frequently watered at high humidity and too low temperature. The symptoms are blisters and knobs on the leaves that gradually turn brown. Soon the leaves turn yellow and fall off. Try to follow the agrotechnical rules of growing of morning glory, and this problem simply will not occur.

Lilac Morning Glory

The main enemies of morning glory among pests are aphids and spider mites. You can get rid of aphids by treating the plant with soapy water, and the spider mite is afraid of sprinkling with cold water, but these methods are effective only if you find uninvited guests very quickly. If they have settled down, then the plant infested with both aphids and spider mites should be treated with an insecticide such as malathion or actellic.

How to collect the seeds of morning glory

When to collect the seeds of morning glory

The experts recommend to collect the seeds from the second and third buds. When the flowers wither and a brown capsule takes their place, let it dry and open slightly. It will happen in about a month. Pour seeds from a capsule in a paper bag and write the name of the variety on it. As already mentioned, the germinating capacity of the morning glory seeds are preserved for three to four years.

Morning Glory in the Garden

Morning glory after flowering

Morning glory in winter

In our climate zone morning glory is grown as an annual plant, so in autumn, when the leaves fade and fall, you can cut the shoots of the morning glory, dig through the soil, removing the rhizome. Next spring you will sow the seeds, and you will grow a new morning glory. Or it may happen that there will be no need of seed sowing, since morning glory perfectly propagates by self-sowing, and if the seeds from the ripened capsules have scattered over the place where it grew this year, it is likely that the next year young shoots of morning glory will start growing at this very place.

References and links

  1. Ipomoea
  2. Family Convolvulaceae
  3. List of all species on The Plant List
  4. More information at World Flora Online
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