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How to Grow Morning Glory

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Morning glories are often the first flowering vines gardeners become familiar with. They are fast-growing annual vines that are actually in the same botanical family as sweet potatoes (though they don’t produce edible tubers). The brightly colored trumpet-shaped flowers have a slight fragrance and are popular with butterflies and hummingbirds. The buds are twirled up tightly and unfold when the sun hits them in the morning, giving them their unique name.

Native to Mexico and Central America, morning glory vines grow by clinging to nearby supports with tendrils, rapidly growing up to 12 feet or more a season. They can be planted by seed about a month before the last spring frost, and self-sow effusively, making it very likely they’ll come back the following year. Though some gardeners find them too aggressive, unwanted seedlings can usually be pulled out easily.

Botanical Name Ipomoea purpurea
Common Name Morning glory
Plant Type Annual
Mature Size 6–10 ft. tall, 3–6 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Moist but well-draining
Soil pH Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Purple, pink, blue, white
Hardiness Zones 2–11 (USDA)
Native Area Mexico, Central America
Toxicity Toxic to animals and humans

Morning Glory Care

Morning glories are a favorite of gardeners everywhere for good reason. The eye-catching vines are very low maintenance—they can be easily started from seed in early spring, and you don’t need to prune or deadhead them as they grow. Have a trellis or other support in place wherever you plant your seeds and the vines will soon find the support and train themselves to grow up it.

With regular watering, morning glories can start blooming by mid-summer, but many times they are slow to begin setting flowers, earning them the nickname “back to school vine.” If you want to try and speed up the flowering time of morning glories you seed yourself, you can try sowing the seeds even earlier in the spring by scattering them on the frozen ground and even on snow.

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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Planting your morning glory in a spot that gets full sun is especially important. The flowers will only open when they are in direct sunlight, so daily exposure to full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours a day) will give you the longest amount of bloom time. If they are in a spot that doesn’t get sun until the afternoon, don’t expect “morning” glories.

Morning glories do best in soil that is moist but well-draining. A neutral soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is best, but morning glories will grow just about anywhere. However, they do bloom better in soil that is not too rich in organic matter—you can always amend the soil later if the vines look like they are struggling.

Water

Provide your morning glories with regular water, about one inch per week, and mulch around the roots to retain moisture. The biggest moisture needs come during the plant’s growing period—once established (and in the winter), you can slow your watering cadence.

Temperature and Humidity

Morning glories are very hardy plants and can easily tolerate temperatures both cold and warm. That being said, in order for them to grow from seed, they should be planted once the ground temperature has reached at least 64 degrees Fahrenheit. They will be an annual plant in areas that drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and perennials in warmer climates. Additionally, they require no special humidity needs.

Fertilizer

Feed your morning glories with a low nitrogen fertilizer every four to five weeks throughout their growing period. If you notice a lack of blooms, you can try a fertilizer blend that is high in phosphorous.

Is Morning Glory Toxic?

Though the morning glory plant itself is not toxic, its seeds are, and they can be very dangerous to animals and humans alike if ingested in large quantities. That’s because the seeds contain an LSD-like alkaloid called LSA. If you noticed any of the below symptoms, contact poison control or a vet immediately.

Symptoms of Poisoning in Animals

  • Incoordination
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms of Poisoning in Humans

  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Numb limbs
  • Tingling
  • Muscle tightness

How to Grow Morning Glory From Seed

You can start seed indoors about four to six weeks before your last frost date, but it’s not necessary—they do very well when direct-sown as well. If you prefer to plant your seeds straight into the ground, you can wait until the soil is able to be worked and has warmed to at least 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Morning glory seeds are very hard and germination will be faster with scarification. You can do this by rubbing them between two pieces of coarse sandpaper for a few seconds and then soaking them overnight. You will notice they are a lot plumper in the morning and look ready to sprout.

Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep, spaced a few inches apart. If you are planting a row of morning glories, six-inch spacing will be fine. If you are planting a trellis, you don’t need to be too particular about spacing. Water the seeds well and keep the soil moist until they sprout.

Common Pests and Diseases

Morning glory vines are seldom bothered by insects or diseases, although they can contract several fungal problems if they experience a lot of wet weather, like leaf spot, stem rot, thread blight, and white blister.

A bigger problem is four-footed animals who love to munch on their leaves. Deer, rabbits, and groundhogs can do a lot of damage to the lower vines, especially while they are young. Prevent them from getting to your morning glories by fencing around the lower three to five feet of the vines. The vines will eventually grow through the fencing and disguise it all together. At that point, if animals do a little browsing, it shouldn’t kill the whole plant.

Fast-growing morning glories are one of the easiest flowering vines to grow, adding charm to any. garden. Here are some tips to get them going.

Collecting And Storing Morning Glory Seeds: How To Store Seeds Of Morning Glories

Morning glory flowers are a cheerful, old-fashioned type of bloom that gives any fence or trellis a soft, country cottage look. These quick-climbing vines can grow up to 10 feet tall and often cover the corner of a fence. Grown early in the spring from morning glory seeds, these flowers are often planted over and over again for years.

Frugal gardeners have known for years that saving flower seeds is the best way to create a garden for free, year after year. Learn how to save seeds of the morning glory to continue your garden in next spring’s planting without buying more seed packets.

Collecting Morning Glory Seeds

Harvesting seeds from morning glory is an easy task that can even be used as a family project on a summer day. Look through the morning glory vines to find dead flowers that are ready to drop off. The blooms will leave a small, round pod behind at the end of the stem. Once these pods are hard and brown, crack one open. If you find a number of small black seeds, your seeds of morning glories are ready for harvest.

Snap off the stems below the seed pods and collect all the pods in a paper bag. Bring them into the house and crack them open over a paper towel-covered plate. The seeds are small and black, but large enough to spot easily.

Place the plate in a warm, dark spot where it won’t be disturbed to allow the seeds to continue drying. After one week, try to pierce a seed with a thumbnail. If the seed is too hard to puncture, they have dried enough.

How to Store Seeds of Morning Glories

Place a desiccant packet in a zip-top bag, and write the name of the flower and the date on the outside. Pour the dried seeds into the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and store the bag until next spring. The desiccant will absorb any stray moisture that may be remaining in the seeds, allowing them to stay dry throughout the winter without danger of mold.

You may also pour 2 tbsp (29.5 ml.) of dried milk powder onto the center of a paper towel, folding it over to create a packet. The dried milk powder will absorb any stray moisture.

Morning glory flowers are a cheerful, old-fashioned type of bloom. Learn how to save seeds of the morning glory in this article to continue your garden in next spring's planting without buying more seed packets.