It was time this week for my daughter and I to carry out one of our annual rituals, planting morning glory seeds in one of the large containers on our deck. The tripod of bamboo poles was installed and the seeds were planted and now we wait for the first tiny shoots to poke their heads into daylight, followed by rapidly expanding tendrils which will curl their way skyward along the poles.
I love plants whose growth you can measure on a daily basis! The morning glory family is a huge one, with over 500 species of Ipomoea. In a family that large there is bound to be a few “personalities” and Ipomoea includes more than its share. The seeds of the Ipomoea tricolor have hallucinogenic properties that were well-known to native peoples like the Aztecs of Mexico. Ipomoea batatas is better known as sweet potato, and there are the very popular ornamental cultivars known as sweet potato vine which spill out of our containers and hanging baskets. A form of convulvus, in the same family as ipomoea, is commonly known as bindweed, which can be a nightmare for gardeners. Ipomoea alba, the Moonflower, charms gardeners on warm summer evenings when its sweetly-scented white blooms unfurl, reason enough to linger outside after dark.
But it’s the common morning glory Ipomoea tricolor that we plant every year, marveling at its rapid growth and falling in love with the simple blooms which unfurl with the rising sun each morning only to close in the evening. Gardeners have been growing morning glory for well over a century, families bringing the seed with them from homes far away and transplanting them in their new homesteads.
Because the seed coats of Ipomoea tricolor are very hard it’s essential that you nick or file a small piece of the seed to allow moisture to enter. I used a small nail clipper to achieve this. Some seed packets suggest soaking the seed in water overnight as well. You can start the seed indoors a month or so before the last spring frost date, but it’s easier to sow them directly in place outside once the soil has warmed a bit in May.
Be sure to provide some support for your vines and anticipate at least eight to ten feet of growth in a single season. Morning glories are perfect for providing a quick screen on a deck or patio as you don’t need to worry about the winter hardiness of a more permanent plant and you’ve laid out only a couple of dollars for a package of seeds.
Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’ is the most popular variety. It has five inch wide sky-blue flowers with white throats and blooms profusely through the summer. There are packages of mixed colours as well.
I have no doubt that when my daughter has her own family she’ll be planting morning glory seeds with her children. It’s one of those very simple rituals that are so important to encourage with your children and so easy to perpetuate in the garden.

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