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Morning glories — a glorious annual climber

Blooms attract hummingbirds and will put on a display until freeze-up

Annual vines are a nice addition to the garden, adding colour, texture, and a vertical dimension. There are many from which to choose such as thunbergia and sweet peas, and my wife’s favourite — so they must be grown — morning glories.

It is not easy to find places where vines will look good and flourish, but I have found a unique place to plant the morning glories. Actually, I never plant them as so many seedlings come up in the spring. My problem is to get rid of all the extras! The variety is a blue-wine variety and it must not be a hybrid because it comes perfectly true every year. I grow it along the south wall of the house where the patio is located. Because the house is stucco, I hesitate to drill holes in the walls to erect trellises, but morning glories must have something to climb.

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They grow in front of the gas meter, so camouflage it quite well, and there is an awning over a window above where they grow. I simply hook a bungee cord to the awning support and to a hook in the ground and voila — something for the plants to climb. In no time they are up the cord and spreading across the top of the awning. One result of this location is that hummingbirds can easily be viewed as they visit the flowers to get nectar.

Morning glories are certainly easy to grow. Because mine self-seed prolifically and come up early, as they are up against the south foundation of the house, I don’t start plants indoors. However, to get early bloom, seeds can be started indoors about five weeks before planting-out time. Plant several seeds in a six-inch pot and put a bamboo stake in the centre for the young plants to climb. Place on a south-facing windowsill and take them outside on warm days.

Keep the pots well separated because the vines grow fast and will soon get so entangled that they will be impossible to separate. They will also twist around any other support they encounter (they seem to be able to sense where a support is and head for it).

Morning glories are intolerant of frost so they should not be planted outdoors until the risk of frost has passed. The funnel-shaped blooms come in an array of wonderful colours in the pink and blue-violet range, and once the plants start to flower, will continue to produce until freeze-up. They like moist soil and will wilt if the soil gets dry, but will grow well in ordinary garden soil. Morning glories don’t require much maintenance, and although deadheading is not necessary, it will improve the appearance of the plants.

Besides growing morning glories on a fence or trellis (or bungee cord), they can also be grown on a free-standing trellis placed in a flower border. When we visited the International Peace Garden last August, I noticed that the gardeners there had used a morning glory tower in the centre of an island bed as an effective focal point. The support was completely covered with foliage and flowers and the “tower” was stunning.

Whether you grow morning glories on a fence, trellis, wall, or other support, you will enjoy their continuous summer bloom, the hummingbirds they attract, and the vigorous way they make their way towards the sky. They are truly amazing plants.

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