University of Illinois Extension

Morning Glories Still a Favorite

“There’s something irresistible about a trellis softened with intense clove-scented sweet peas,” said Greg Stack, Extension horticulturist. “Flowering vines of all sorts can add something special to any garden no matter how large or small. Whether a living curtain of morning glories to shade a west kitchen window or a white picket fence colored with a bright tumble of black-eyed Susan vines, annual flowering vines can add privacy, disguise harsh landscape features and just add a touch of color to the garden.”

Many annual vines, he noted, grow quickly enough to be well on their way to covering a trellis in only a few weeks. By mid-summer, the entire trellis can be covered with foliage and flowers that block the wind, offer some shade, and add a bit of privacy.

Morning glories are the logical choice for containers with trellises and for quick growing.

“They will grow in almost any soil, preferring poor soils with low fertility,” said Stack. “Morning glories prefer full sun but will tolerate very light shade. They are easily started directly in the garden after the soils have warmed up. Because morning glory seed has a hard seed coat, it helps to soak the seed in water overnight or even nick the seed with a nail file before sowing.”

If trying to fill baskets and mixed containers, the best varieties are in the ‘Good Morning’ series and the ‘Mini-Bar Rose’.  Both of these offer a bit more compact habit and the added feature of variegated foliage.

“Another star in the morning glory world is ‘Sunrise Serenade’,” said Stack. “This large plant offers flowers that are two-to-three inches across and double.”

Two Morning Glory relatives can also add to the garden:  one during the day and one at night.

The moonflower is a very robust vine with large leaves and flowers that look like morning glory but are six-inches wide and crystal white.

Greg Stack

“The moonflower is a very robust vine with large leaves and flowers that look like morning glory but are six-inches wide and crystal white,” said Stack. “Unlike morning glory that is at its peak during the day, moonflower opens at dusk and stays open all night.  They should be planted where their size and very fragrant flowers can be appreciated.”

Moonflower likes a full sun site, and soil that is moist.  This vine needs a very long growing season in order to bloom so it should be started indoors from seed or put out in the garden from purchased transplants.

“The other relative is Mina lobata.  It goes by a lot of names such as Exotic Love and Spanish Flag,” Stack said. “This very vigorous vine has fleur-de-lis-shaped leaves and very unique flowers.  Masses of four-to-six-inch long flower spikes are produced that change in color from a soft yellow to a deep rusty red through the summer.”