Morning glories welcome the new day in brightlyEvery year it seems I try certain flowers over and over again, even if I don’t have great success. As with many other people, I keep trying them because I see others who grow them amazingly well, so why can’t I?
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
Every year it seems I try certain flowers over and over again, even if I don’t have great success. As with many other people, I keep trying them because I see others who grow them amazingly well, so why can’t I? Fortunately I keep pursuing the gardeners’ dream of growing everything to the best of my ability and continue trying them till I get it right. Morning glories happen to be one of those easy plants to grow that I just have not mastered yet.
I remember when I was I a kid, my grandma use to plant morning glories on her rainspout each year. She kept the same package of seeds from one year to the next and planted only four seeds in the same spot each year. Within days they would emerge and begin their climb to the roof. The plants never had a canopy of thick leaves, in fact, the vines sometimes looked thin and sparse. However, when the vines began to bloom at the end of June or the beginning of July, huge, sky blue-colored blooms would open in profusion. Some of the flowers were nearly 5 inches across and caught my eye every time I saw them in bloom.
I think about those memories to this day as they have a great sense of nostalgia to them. Each year that I plant morning glories, I dump an entire package into the ground and watch them begin to grow. Soon they are taking off up the trellis and poles in which they are planted around. They become quite healthy with large leaves and thick stems. Some have reached anywhere from 20 to 30 feet in height! My problem each year is that the vines remain lush but do not produce flower buds until shortly before the first frost. I used to think it was the location in which they were planted, so I tried another spot across the yard only to see the same results.
My neighbors just sit back and watches theirs come up from seed year after year. The soil is similar and so is the location, with one small difference — theirs begin to bloom in June and do not stop until frost. Whatever the reasons, I will continue to try them till I get them right. My first flowers opened just over a week ago, so if there is a late frost, I will be able to enjoy them for a good period of time.
Morning glories have wonderful heart-shaped leaves that range in size from 2 to 6 inches across. As soon as the seeds have sprouted, the plants begin to develop vines and wrap themselves around the nearest support. They strictly climb by twining and not with tendrils or suction-style features. When the weather heats up, you can nearly watch them grow from one day to the next, reaching to greater heights.
They prefer to grow in areas with full sunlight and moderate amounts of moisture. They are not particular on soil types as they can thrive in rich or poor soils alike. Sometimes a soil too high in organic matter causes them to grow more leaves than flowers, but that does not seem to be my dilemma.
When flower buds begin to develop, they usually occur on forked stems that produce anywhere from three to six flowers per stem. The buds are small and pointed and grow from there to about 2 inches in length before uncurling in the early morning hours. Once open, they create a trumpet-shaped bloom that comes in shades of blue, purple, white, pink, red and bi-colors that slowly close up again in the afternoon hours. Each flower only lasts one day, but in cool and cloudy conditions, some can stay open the entire day.
“Heavenly Blue” creates the beautiful sky blue flowers from my grandma’s era, whereas “Scarlet O’Hara” will produce nice crimson colored blooms with white throats. “Candy Pink” is a soft pastel pink shade and “Pearly Gates’” is a large, large white bloom that seems to glow in the early morning sun. The “Morning Star” series creates all shades with a white throat and deeper contrasting stars within the petals. “Moonflower” is also in the family of morning glories, which creates large white flowers, except instead of blooming in the morning, they open at night. “Carnival Mix” and “Early Call” are good choices for a whole mix of colors to enjoy if you just can’t decide on a color.
When the blooms have faded away, small round seed pods form containing four seeds inside. As the pod dries, it will split from the bottom in four sections to release the seeds to the ground. If you want to collect seed from your vines, collect them when the pods are dry, but not open. If left to drop to the ground, these seeds will come up the following year, so be careful as you could end up with hundreds of new plants.
Next year I am sure I will try growing the morning glory again in the yard, but this time I think I am going to collect seed from my neighbors’ plants. After all, the past three years, theirs have flourished with heavy blooms and mine have been aggressive but low on flowers. I have enjoyed them since I was young and I still think they are a valuable selection for my garden, so will give it another try.