Ahhhhh, Morning Glories! One of the most beautiful and fastest growing annual vines in zone 5. They’re practical too if you’re landscaping for privacy. If you happen to live in zone 5, now is the time to start them from seed indoors.
I’m a proponent of growing plants from seed whenever possible, because it stretches your budget in a big, big way. The seeds I’m using now are three years old, which means I’ve gotten three years worth of morning glories for about $2.00. Based on how many of the three-year-old seeds germinated when I planted some last week, I’d say the germination rate was 90% or better.
I used to try starting plants indoors by putting a pot on my kitchen table in front of a south-facing window. Even with southern exposure, my seedlings were always tall and lanky, and the first time I put them outside on a windy day…well…there were few survivors.
So here’s what I’ve learned. To avoid raising weak plants, I move the pots outside on decent days (over 60 degrees), and then bring them in at night. That way, they get the sun they need, but don’t freeze to death at night. This makes a significant difference on the thickness and strength of the stems.
Seeds can be started indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date, which for zone 5 is May 15. To plant Morning Glories, soak the seeds in a bowl of water for 24 hours. The outer shell on a Morning Glory seed is built like a tank, and it helps the seed to germinate more quickly if it’s soaked first.
I re-use my potting soil every year, but add some sort of compost/fertilizer to the old soil. This year, I’m adding worm castings from my worm bin. I plant several seeds in one pot by making a ring about a half of an inch deep in the dirt, and plant the seeds in a circle.
I add my seeds.
I cover the seeds with dirt, and lightly press the soil down so that I have good soil to seed contact. Then I water. I add a small trellis to this pot to give the vines something to climb onto. This was a pot I saved from a plant I bought last year, and it’s perfect for starting my vines.
After a week, the seedlings are about two inches tall already! Since so many of the seeds germinated, I’ll probably move half of the seedlings to another pot. If I plant this many vines in this small of a space, I’ll be left with a nightmarish tangle of unhealthy vines.
After re-potting half of the seedlings, I’ll keep an eye on the remaining half, and before they get too wrapped around the trellis, I’ll probably whittle the remaining ones down to about three or four survivors. (Looks like the little guy in the front left is taking a bow!)
When I plant the Morning Glories outside after all danger of frost has passed, I’ll remove the soil, vines and trellis from the pot in one, big bunch, and plant the whole shebang in front of another trellis that they can latch onto.
I’m happy to report that last spring, I had some Morning Glories that re-seeded on their own. Not only did I have an unexpected Morning Glory explosion, I had blooms that were a color I didn’t plant. I always plant Heavenly Blue, which is shown in the first photo posted, but they came up purple last year. I’m not talking a bluish purple, I’m talking in-your-face, Barney-the-dinosaur purple.
I’ve read that a change in the pH of soil can change the color, but I noticed a lot of purple Morning Glories in my city, and no blue ones, so I’m thinking some other environmental factor may have come into play. I was a little disappointed because I love, love, love the blue ones.
Since too much nitrogen will stimulate the foliage, but will stifle flower production, you’ll want to forgo the fertilizer. Other than the worm castings I put in my pot to get them off to a good start, they won’t get anything more to eat at my house once they’re in the ground. They thrive in bad soil.
You can also plant Morning Glories in a large pot with a trellis. I pulled these vines out of the ground last spring when they were little and put them in a pot.
Nothing against Barney, but I sure hope I get my Heavenly Blue ones back this year!
This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.