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Are Morning Glories Perennials? (Or Annuals)?

Some gardeners have annual morning glories, some have perennial ones.

morning glory

In general, Morning Glory can be both a perennial (in sunset climate zones 8, 9, and 12 – 23), and an annual plant (in frost-prone areas).

If you think of yourself as having had one kind for several years, there’s a good chance your plant is that particular kind.

Some will say that if the vines are pulled up at the end of the season they are annuals, while if they are left in place to overwinter they’re perennials. True?

Not really true. All plants may be overwintered by mulching them heavily with straw (about 6 inches) or another organic mulch after cutting back most of the foliage.

This will protect all but late frosts and freezes down to temperatures of about 15 degrees F.

If you leave the vines in place, they’ll just die down at some point – probably after fruiting.

Annuals won’t survive beyond this unless they are self-sowing types, but for most perennials, the stems will keep on growing and may produce new leaves and flowers before dying back again if conditions are favorable.

The clearest way to tell the difference is to dig up a plant or two (pulling up an entire plant can hurt your soil structure) and look at their roots.

If it has fleshy, white taproots several inches long it’s definitely a perennial type; if not, then it’s an annual/perennial hybrid that dies after setting seed (look for seed pods).

If you’re still not sure, try growing a few plants from seed, the seeds will tell you which kind it is.

The seeds of annual morning glories generally germinate in just a week or two and grow into small vines that produce flowers the same year they were planted.

The plants typically die after setting their fruit and don’t come back true to type from saved seed.

Perennial morning glory types also produce seeds, but these won’t sprout until next spring at the earliest (they need a cold treatment first).

These may or may not give you identical plants for several generations, if you save seeds from them every year, they’ll gradually revert to how they originally grew in your garden.

So what’s a gardener to do if they want the same plant every year and don’t like seeds coming up where they’re not wanted? The answer is simple: buy named cultivars that will stay true (or nearly so) from seed.

Meaning Of Morning Glory

A large flowering plant cultivated for its showy, often fragrant flowers which open in the early morning.

Morning glories are some of the most commonly grown annual vines. They have simple leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers that tend to climb upward rather than outward like other plants. 

Plant your seeds or seedlings with approximately 6 inches of soil between each one to promote growth.

Morning glories tend to trail downward naturally; therefore, they need support by attaching them to trellises or letting them trail down from hanging baskets. 

If you let them trail downwards without any support, they will not be able to grow upwards towards sunlight easily.

Morning Glory Plants That Are Considered Perennial

1. Heavenly Blue Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea)

The Heavenly Blue variety is one of the most popular of the morning glory family. When they bloom, the blue flowers open for a short time at dusk and close again before dawn.

The new flowers begin to emerge as others die off, resulting in a long-lasting display of color throughout the summer months even until mid-autumn (fall). 

Pick new flowers on a regular basis to encourage more blooms or prune dying blossoms to keep them looking full and healthy. If you want your heavenly blues to climb over an arbor or trellis install it first and train them up as they grow and they’ll be there waiting they’ve grown strong enough to climb on their own.

2. Railroad Vine (Ipomoea purpurea ‘Nana’)

Railroad vine is another variety of Ipomoea (‘morning glory’), and it too has attractive, dark green foliage and lovely lavender-blue flowers that open at dusk and close again in the morning. The most notable difference between railroad vine and heavenly blue is how quickly they grow: while heavenly blues can grow to reach 12 feet tall, they only do so very slowly over time. 

Railroad vines reach heights of up to 10 feet within one season! If you plant them near a walkway or driveway they’ll help create a lovely purple tunnel with their blossoms when viewed from above. Their rapid growth rate makes them ideal for fast-growing trellises and arbors.

3. Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

Moonflowers produce big, white blooms that face upward, often with a yellow or orange center. They open only at night and last through the morning before closing again for the day, so they’re most impactful when viewed in evening lighting conditions. 

A moonflower vine can grow to be 20 feet tall and wide so give them plenty of room.

Choose from many different varieties – some have been bred to be more compact while others are specifically designed to climb – when you start your moonflowers from seed they’ll remain small enough to enjoy in a container on a sunny balcony or before they’re transplanted into the garden or grown in a large pot.

4. Sweet Potato Vine (ipomoea batatas)

Loved for their beautiful foliage and sweet potato-like roots, sweet potatoes are another type of morning glory well suited to growing over an arbor or trellis. 

They grow quickly throughout the spring and summer months to produce lusciously green leaves with purple flowers that bloom at dusk before closing again for the night. 

These vines can grow up to 30 feet long so give them plenty of space! While they need warm weather, they do not tolerate frost – if you plant them too early in the season they’ll stop growing until temperatures become warm enough again.

Colors of Morning Glories

1) White – White morning glory seeds contain LSA like all other types but they’re missing something else. 

The TERPENE responsible for producing psychoactive effects is also missing from white morning glory seeds, which means that these seeds won’t get you high. 

They’re still quite popular with gardeners since they resemble a wild morning glory and some people even grow them in their gardens.

2) Yellow – Yellow morning glories can be found growing all over the world and sometimes they will look white or blue instead of yellow. 

The petals of this color tend to be about an inch long and there’s also a darker variety – but both lack psychoactive properties completely, so don’t expect any psychedelic effects from these flowers either.

3) Pink – Also known as ‘Heavenly Blue’, pink is one of the most common types of morning glories out there, along with its blue counterpart which we’ll cover later. Some people even grow pink morning glories as houseplants. 

Pink varieties of morning glories are completely non-psychoactive, so don’t expect them to make your trip.

4) Blue – The blue color comes from the fact that these morning glory seeds contain a specific type of terpene called ‘Linalool’. This is very similar to the terpene found in lavender though not quite identical. 

Linalool is known for producing calming effects which can sometimes result in hallucinations if enough of it is ingested. 

Note that linalool doesn’t always produce hallucinogenic effects – this depends on how much of it was ingested, what kind of strain the seed came from, and your own personal chemistry.

5) Red / Purple – Purple varieties of morning glories are very similar to blue ones, as they both contain linalool. 

Red seeds on the other hand tend to contain a different terpene called ‘Citronellol’, which is also found in roses and helps produce calming effects. 

Note that some purple or red morning glory seeds don’t actually contain any psychoactive substances at all.

6) Black / Brown – Some people report having hallucinations from black morning glory seeds but it’s generally assumed that only red/purple flowers have this effect. 

In fact, most brown versions of these flowers also lack psychoactive properties entirely.

Where is the best place to plant your morning glory seeds?

Morning glories are very easy plants to start from seed. To get the most out of your hard work, plant them in a full sun location. 

Morning glories love the sunlight and will grow faster with it. If you don’t have a good sunny area, you can also use grow lights or fluorescent bulbs to help give your morning glory bare-root plants some energy.

At this point, you should be thinking about where to plant your morning glory seedlings. Once planted, they are easier to start indoors during the early spring months before transplanting outside later on in the summer months.

You want to make sure that they have time to grow their roots and become stronger for outdoor planting.

How Do I Prepare The Ground To Plant Morning Glories?

If you are planning on transplanting your morning glory seedlings, it is especially important that you have properly prepared the ground before planting. You will want to enrich the soil with organic materials and compost for good nutrients. 

The general rule of thumb is to add 2 inches of composted manure per square foot of bed space. If you don’t have access to manure, adding in a little fertilizer like 10-10-10 is recommended as well.     

What Kind Of Container Should My Morning Glory Be Planted In?

Each morning glory variety has its own specific needs when it comes to growing them into mature plants. While they can all grow in most types of containers, this article will focus on 10x10x4 inch boxes and large half-barrel containers.

If you want to grow your morning glories in a 10 x 10 x 4-inch box, pre-drill three wood screws into the bottom of the container for each seedling plant that you plan to add. 

This is especially important because these types of boxes are flimsy once they become wet and can potentially fall over when trying to transplant the root ball at a later time. 

Always take extra precautions by screwing it down so that it stays sturdy. It will also be easier to move around before planting if the sides are secured with screws beforehand.

Once you have filled your container with your enriched soil mix, gently shape a small crater in the center with your hands. This is where you will plant your morning glory seedling bare-root straight from transplanting. 

Lower it into the center of the crater so that the tops of the roots are barely covered with soil and let them hang over as they will need plenty of room to grow strong.

How much water should I give my morning glories?

Morning glories have a deep taproot system which makes them drought tolerant once established, but they still like to be watered regularly throughout their growing months. The best way to ensure that they stay hydrated is by drip irrigation within 2 inches of the base of each stem. 

It’s also important not to overwater or underwater this type of flower because both can cause problems or kill it.

If you are growing your morning glory in a container, you will want to check the soil every other day for moisture. If it is dry two inches below the surface, then it’s time to water again.

What kind of fertilizer should I use on my morning glories?

Morning glories can be fertilized throughout their growing season with a complete fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 mixed at half strength or less. 

You don’t want to go overboard because this type of flower isn’t too heavy on nutrients due to how deep its roots grow. The best location for feeding is around the drip line where the stem meets the ground – approximately 15 inches out from each plant.

When do I harvest my morning glories?

This depends on whether you are growing for its Viney, flowering stems, or its root system.

For harvesting flowers, it is best to wait until evening time when the flower has begun to close before cutting them from their vines. 

This helps the next flower bud show itself soon after. You can also cut them earlier in the day if you would like to use them fresh for decoration or food purposes, but they won’t have a long shelf life once cut open. 

Some varieties have especially long vines that produce several flowers – take advantage of this by hanging your spent blossoms upside down with twine somewhere safe inside overnight to dry out before storing away in an airtight container. 

To harvest their delicious roots, wait until the vines have begun to die back on their own. This is when they are completely mature and ready for harvest. 

It’s best to dig up the roots in October before the first frost of winter arrives – winter is the only time of year that growing more morning glories from cuttings will be successful since they’re hardy perennials.

Conclusion

As you can see, most sources seem to suggest that the majority of morning glory species are only annuals.

The debate comes with the Ipomoea tricolor, sometimes referred to as “Japanese morning glory.” 

Most botanical experts tend to describe this plant as perennial, while others refer to it as an annual only.

This may be because many people confuse Ipomoea tricolor with similar-looking morning glory plants such as ipomoea hederacea (which is considered an annual).

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