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Morning glories are a splendid sight in any ornamental flower border, vining upwards to create a stunning display of vibrant trumpet-shaped blooms. But did you know that morning glories are one of the easiest ornamental plants to grow from seed?

The name ‘morning glory’ reflects the distinctive blooms of this low-maintenance plant, which are fully open at the start of the day and gradually close as the day progresses. Each flower lasts for just a single day, and because of this short-lived blooming period, in various cultures, the morning glory flower represents fleeting beauty or the brevity of life. The morning glory flower also symbolizes love and affection.

Most morning glory species are annuals in temperate climates, meaning they complete their life cycle in one growing season. However, some perennial varieties can survive and bloom year after year in warmer regions. Morning glory plants cannot tolerate frost but have a long growing season, so careful timing when sowing seeds is essential.

Morning glories are hugely popular in ornamental gardens thanks to their incredible vining habit. These vigorous plants will wind their way up fences and trellises, often reaching heights of two meters or more. Morning glories continuously produce blooms as they grow, resulting in a beautiful display of flowers all summer.

morning glory growing
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Growing Morning Glory from Seed

Morning glory plants are not widely available in garden stores, and most gardeners start these vigorous climbing plants from seed. However, by following just a few simple steps, even the most inexperienced gardener can successfully cultivate morning glories for ornamental borders and containers.

Choosing the right Morning Glory seeds

Morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor) come in a range of cultivars, each offering unique colors and growth habits. When choosing morning glory seeds, first consider the variety of morning glory you wish to grow. Morning glories come in various shades, from deep purples and blues to bright pinks, reds, and whites.

Some popular varieties of morning glory include ‘Heavenly Blue’ with its striking sky-blue flowers, ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ with its vivid red blooms, and ‘Pearly Gates’ which offers pristine white flowers

Next, decide whether you prefer climbing or bushy types of morning glories. Climbing varieties, such as the ‘Flying Saucers’ or ‘Blue Star,’ are best for vertical gardening and will adorn trellises, fences, and arbors with their lush vines and abundant blooms. Bushy types like ‘Dwarf Morning Glory’ are ideal for ground cover or container gardening, offering a more compact growth habit that doesn’t require additional support.

When growing morning glories from seed, it is essential to purchase fresh high-quality seeds from reputable suppliers. Older seeds may have lower germination rates and can lead to disappointing results.

Sowing morning glory seeds

When and how to sow morning glory seeds will depend on your climate and the length of your summer growing season. Morning glories are not frost tolerant and require sufficient warmth to germinate and grow successfully. Soil temperatures should be around 64-70F (18-21C) for optimal germination.

In warmer climates with a long summer growing season, morning glory seeds can be sown directly in the ground as soon as the risk of frost has passed. Gardeners in cooler climates will benefit from starting morning glory seeds indoors around one month before the last expected frost date.

a hand shovel is lying on the green grass next to the excavated earth
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Preparing the soil

Morning glories grow best in well-drained, fertile soil with plenty of well-rotted organic matter. When directly sowing morning glory seeds outdoors, choose a sunny spot with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. If the soil quality is poor, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and drainage. Plant morning glory seeds ½ inch deep and space them 6-12 inches apart.

If you are starting morning glories indoors to extend the growing season, fill a module tray with good-quality organic seed compost. Sow a single seed ½ inch deep in each module. Place the tray in a warm place until the seeds germinate, then move it to a sunny windowsill until the plants are sturdy enough to survive outdoors.

When all risk of frost has passed, young morning glory seedlings can be planted in their intended location. Prepare the soil above and dig a hole large enough for each seedling’s entire root ball. Carefully transplant the seedling into the hole, firm down the soil, and water well.

Watering seedlings

Regular watering is essential during the early stages of morning glory growth. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until seedlings emerge, then gradually reduce the watering frequency. Once established, morning glories are moderately drought-tolerant and will survive prolonged periods without water.

blue morning glory
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

How to Care for Morning Glory Plants

The most vital element when caring for morning glory plants is to provide adequate support for this vigorous climber. The stems will wind their way up trellises, fences, and canes, so make sure these are sturdy enough to take the weight of the mature plant.

Morning glory plants require very little pruning—simply snip away any overgrown or damaged foliage to maintain the desired shape. Pruning the tips can help keep the plant at a manageable height and encourage it to become bushier.

At the end of the growing season, collect some mature seed pods after they have dried on the vine. These seeds can be sown the following year, giving you a free and sustainable source of morning glory plants.

morning glory side angle
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Dealing with Common Pests and Diseases

Morning glory plants occasionally suffer from aphid infestations but recover quickly if prompt action is taken. Aphids are soft-skinned insects that can be killed by insecticidal soap or a mix of water and vinegar. To control these garden pests, plant herbs and flowers that attract beneficial insects.

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