A fall flower, the morning glory has beautifully-shaped blooms that unfurl in the sun and romantic tendrils that lend old-fashioned charm. The attractive plant is often misunderstood and confused with a weedy plant bearing the same name. Learn all about planting, growing, and caring for morning glory
About Morning Glories
NOTE: This guide is NOT about the perennial weed that shares the common name of “morning glory.” That plant classified as noxious weed in many states. Read more below.
Morning glories are tender annuals, so they are sensitive to cool temperatures and late frosts. They bloom from early summer to the first frost of fall.
With slender stems and heart-shaped leaves, their trumpet-shaped flowers come in colors of pink, purple-blue, magenta, or white. Morning glories’ fragrant, colorful flowers are not only attractive to our eyes, but also beloved by butterflies and hummingbirds.
Train twining morning glory vines over a pergola or arch, or use them as a dense groundcover. This drought-tolerant plant grows quickly—up to 10 feet in one season—and can self-seed fairly easily. Because of this, you’ll want to choose where you put this plant wisely! Otherwise, you may have more morning glories than you bargained for.
The attractive annual morning glory(Ipomoea spp.) is often mistaken for its perennial cousin, field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), a very troublesome, invasive weed native to Europe and Asia.
Field bindweed—also called “perennial morning glory” or “creeping jenny”—grows similarly to our annual morning glory but sends out deep, deep roots, which make it very difficult to get rid of and allow it to overwinter in areas where cultivated morning glories could not.
To tell the difference between the plants, look closely at the leaves, flowers, and vines:
The leaves of the annual morning glory are heart-shaped and large (2 or more inches across). Field bindweed leaves are shaped more like an arrowhead and smaller.
Annual morning glory flowers are may be pink, white, magenta, blue, purple, or red. Field bindweed flowers only occur in either pink or white, and blooms are much smaller than annual morning glory.
Morning glory vines are usually thicker than bindweed vines, and typically have small hairs.
In any case, if you come across a plant in your garden that resembles morning glory and you know you didn’t plant it, it’s best to err on the side of caution and treat it as a weed.
Choose a sunny spot. These plants need a lot of sun to bloom their best! Plant in moderately fertile, well-draining soil to encourage good foliage growth followed by plenty of flowers.
Finally, choose a location that is sheltered from strong, drying winds. Give them a fence, lattice, or trellis to climb up so that vines don’t crowd out other ground-level plants.
When to Plant Morning Glories
Sow seeds as early as possible after the danger of frost is over.
How to Plant Morning Glories
Germination rates are improved by filing down the seeds just enough to break the outer coat, then soaking them for 24 hours before planting. This encourages them to send out a root (it looks like a little worm).
Cover lightly with 1/4-inch of soil. Space seeds about 6 inches apart.
Water thoroughly at planting.
Seedlings should appear in about a week; some seeds may be stubborn and take 2 or 3 weeks to sprout.
Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer after planting. Do not over-fertilize, or the vine may grow more foliage than flowers.
Support this climbing plant with structures like trellises, pergolas, or arches.
Tip: Morning glories climb by twining their vines around a support, so make sure that whichever type of structure you grow them against has plenty of space for whorling!
Morning glories are low maintenance; just be sure to water during particularly dry periods.
If you’ve ever grown sweet potatoes, you may notice a resemblance between their leaves and flowers and those of the morning glory. Unsurprisingly, the plants are related; both belong to the genus Ipomoea.
Morning glories are fast-growing and are rarely bothered by pests or diseases to a significant extent.