How to grow morning glories

When I was young, one of my favorite things about visiting my grandparents was the flowers that grew along the fence between their yard and the next. They had planted morning glories and brand new, beautiful, big flowers opened up every single morning. The vine grew so thickly that sometimes you couldn't see through the chain link fence at all! They were glorious!

Growing morning glories

It was one of the very first flowers I planted at my first house. I planted them by the fence exactly once and never had to plant them again! They came back on their own each year after that. At my current house I have them under the front porch so they grow up and across it. Each vine produces hundreds of flowers per season.

When do morning glories bloom?

Morning glories are a fast growing climbing vine with a literal ton of blooms that open super early in the morning and close around mid-day. You'll have to wake up before dawn to see the morning glory flowers opening!

Morning glory is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the Convolvulaceae family. They were first grown in China for medicinal uses. The morning glory gets it's name because the flowers start to open before dawn.

These are not to be confused with the 4 O'clock flower who's flowers open around late afternoon each day, and the blooms close and die by morning. Or the Moonflower which doesn't even open till evening.

Morning glories can grow thick enough to block your view, so if you need some privacy, plant them along your fence line. They do need something to grow on, twine around or grip. They take up very little ground space, so they are wonderful for small ground areas with a fence or trellis to grow up. 

Morning glories produce large trumpet shaped flowers with heart shaped leaves. The most common colors are a showy blue or bright purple, though there are many others. The variety in these pictures is Grandpa Ott.

Morning glory vine growing up and across a porch

How to grow Morning Glory

Soak seeds overnight before planting to speed germination. Morning glory seeds are very hard and they germinate better when the hard outer coating is softened first. If you're direct sowing during a rainy part of spring, you probably won't need to pre soak the seeds.

Planting Morning Glory

Choose a sunny location with 4-6 hours of direct sun. Morning glories flower best in full sun, but they can tolerate some shade. They will close shortly after being cast into shade though, so to extend the amount of time the blooms are open...opt for full sun.

Plant seeds in rich, well draining soil. Seedlings should emerge in less than 21 days. Thin plants to 6" apart. 

I prefer to start seeds in pots 8 weeks before our last expected frost date. I then transplant seedlings to their final spot when they are a few inches tall and all danger of frost has passed. 

I hate thinning plants because I lose so many, and transplanting seedlings just works better for me! Plus I can start seeds on a heated seed mat, which seems to decrease the time till they germinate. These are very tough seeds!

These beautiful plants are mostly problem free. Unfortunately morning glories are not deer resistant! The deer don't seem to like mine where they currently are, but I do have a constant battle to keep deer out of the garden.

You do not need to deadhead morning glories and they bloom so profusely it would be a daily chore! The flowers close and drop off, leaving a small pod behind and that is where the seeds are produced. Most gardeners remove as many of the seed pods as possible to prevent self seeding.

Morning glories are not heavy feeders and when you do fertilize them, you have to be careful not to give too much. This will cause the vines to grow profusely, but not produce as many flowers. I add some compost at planting time and a weak fertilizer every 2 weeks or so during blooming.

Once established, the morning glory is mostly drought resistant. I water once a week in drought conditions, otherwise they get whatever happens to rain on them and that's about it. As you can see, that 's plenty!

Morning glories are an annual and will die off at the very first frost of the year. You'll want to pull down the vines once they dry up and turn brittle.

Morning glory seed pods, identifying

How to save seeds from the Morning Glory vine

Morning glories will self seed unless you collect the seeds first. The seed pods start out green but turn brown and brittle when they're ready. Simply crush the dry seed pods between your fingers and blow gently to remove the dried shell.

Seeds can easily be removed and saved for next year. Allow seeds to dry for several days before storing, and store in paper envelopes (not plastic containers) to discourage mold. 

If you are looking for ways to make money off your garden morning glories will produce a ton of seeds to sell. They'll also self seed enough that you will be able to remove seedlings in the spring to sell or give away. Start with a rare color as only a few colors are available widely.

Are Morning Glories invasive?

Unfortunately, yes they can be. Even though they are an annual, the morning glory will self seed so proficiently that you will probably never need to plant them again! Your best bet is to remove the dead flower clumps before they go to seed. The flowers themselves will drop off within a day. 

It grows in such a long vine though, that you are bound to miss some and they will definitely will come back next year! You'll need to be vigilant about weeding in the spring to pull out all the new plants that start growing from last years seed!

Morning glorys growing from dropped seeds

Morning glories are a great way to fill in blank spaces, create privacy with a chain link fence or just enjoy fresh blooms all summer long!

Have you decided what to plant in your garden yet? Click here to see how I decide!.


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