Morning glory is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae, whose current taxonomy and systematics are in flux. Morning glory, any of several herbaceous twining vines or shrubs in the genus Ipomoea. The botanical name for morning glory is Ipomoea purpurea.
Most morning glories are vines with rich green foliage and a plethora of flowers that grow fast in hot weather and cover structures like fences, trellises, and arbors. Native to Mexico and Central America, common morning glory vines grow by clinging to nearby supports with tendrils.
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Morning Glory Species and Varieties
In addition to cultivars of the common morning glory, there are other Ipomea species with similar appeal:
I. purpurea 'Star of Yelta': Deep purple blooms with dark red stars and small white throats.
I. purpurea 'Kniola's Black': Another purple-flowered cultivar but with blooms even darker than those of 'Star of Yelta'.
I. tricolor 'Heavenly Blue': A popular cultivar with large azure flowers and heart-shaped leaves.
I. alba: Also called moonflower or belle de nuit; a night-blooming species with 6-inch-wide white flowers.
Ipomoea x multifida: Known as the cardinal climber; a hybrid with relatively small but deep red flowers resembling morning glory blooms.
Ipomoea Indica 'Blue Morning Glory' This is a variation that has blooms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The flowers start the morning with bright blue color and as the day progresses, the color of the bloom turns to more of a pinkish hue. It grows best in well-drained soil and full sun.
Ipomoea purpurea 'Morning Star' This is a variation of this plant that can be seen in many gardens, regardless of how they look. The throats of the flowers are typically white, but the petals can come in rose, purple, pink, violet, blue, and white.
Ipomoea Nil 'Ivy Morning Glory' Bumblebees are attracted to this plant, which can make them a great addition to any garden. It will grow in any type of soil, and it prefers full sun. Typically, the flowers of this plant variety are light lavender.
Ipomoea Pes-caprae 'Beach Morning Glory' This is a variation of the morning glory that can often be spotted along the edges of beaches, which means that it is tolerant of salt and wind. The plant does not grow very high, but it will make a small thicket on the ground that can grow to be wider than three feet.
Planting Morning Glory
When to plant:
Morning glories are easily grown from seed and can be started indoors four to six weeks before the last spring frost. If sown directly into the garden, plant after any threat of frost and once the ground has warmed up to 64 F.
Where to plant:
Pick a site that gets plenty of sun. They will tolerate some very light shade, but bloom their best in full sun. Because of their rapid growth, choose a location that will allow for its mature size. Morning glories will readily self-seed if allowed, so make sure they are in an area that is accessible for cutting back spent blooms before they go to seed or an area where self-seeding is acceptable. Be considerate of neighboring yards and where the seeds might fall.
How to plant:
If planting from seed, file seeds to break the outer shell and soak for 24 hours prior to planting to help with germination. Cover lightly with one-quarter to one-half inch of soil and water thoroughly. When transplanting, be careful of the roots, as they don’t like being disturbed. Water deeply for several days after transplanting to help the roots get established in their new home. Helpful hint: If starting from seed, use peat or other disintegrating pots that can be planted directly in the soil to lessen the stress on the root system.
Other: Morning glories grow quite rapidly once established, up to 12 feet or more in one season.
Care of Morning Glory Plants
The care of morning glory plants is also easy. In fact, once established they require little attention.
No pruning is required; but to prevent unwanted self-seeding, old flowers should be thoroughly removed before they form seedpods.
Morning glories prefer moderately fertile, well-drained soil that is kept consistently moist until the plant is well established. Adult plants aren’t as picky about their soil and can tolerate poor, dry conditions.
Amendments & Fertilizer:
Although usually not necessary, you can apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during growing season. Be careful not to fertilize too much as this can produce more foliage than flowers.
Water freely during growing season and once or twice a week during dry periods; but again, established morning glory plants can tolerate drier conditions. Cut back watering in winter.
Softwood cuttings of perennial species can be rooted in spring or summer. Harvest mature seeds in the fall.
Pests and Diseases
Morning glories are fast growing and are rarely bothered by pests to a significant extent. However, the following pests may be seen feeding on the vines:
Caterpillars (leaf cutters)
Fungal leaf spots
Benefits of Morning Glory
There are many health benefits of morning glory we can get by consuming this trumpet shaped flower. The beneficial part of morning glory is not only the petals. The flower seeds are also beneficial for health. Here are the health benefits:
Good for diabetes
Treat insect bite
Good for skin
Improve brain power
Treat muscle cramp
Medicinal and Ritual Use
The morning glory has been used as a laxative in Asian and Mesoamerican countries for centuries, and a tea was sometimes concocted from its roots as a diuretic and expectorant. Tea brewed from the dry leaves has been used by herbal healers to treat headaches, too.
Seeds from the morning glory have been consumed as a hallucinogenic substance because of a compound called LSA (similar to LSD). Mesoamerican indians would imbibe these seeds to enter trances and altered states for ritualistic purposes.
The seeds are toxic, however, and can cause serious health problems when consumed. They are often also coated with agricultural chemicals. Do not eat them.
Precautions in Using Morning Glory Flowers
The morning glory flowers are known to be beneficial. However, it is better if you limit the consumption or the usage of morning glory flowers, even for the medicinal purpose. It is possible since this flower contains compound alkaloids which sometimes perform hallucinogenic effect.
The excessive intake of this compound may show harmful effect. In spite of this hallucinogenic effect, the consumption of morning glory should not be used alongside the use of prescriptive medicine for depression.
The consumption of morning glory should be avoided by pregnant women as it may harm the pregnancy. It may lead to uterine contraction which further causes miscarriage. Someone with heart disease history should also avoid morning glory as it is harmful for cardiovascular health. Among all the morning glory species, the Korean morning glory is known to be the most dangerous and poisonous as it contain highest alkaloids.