Rebellious Morning Glories

Everybody knows morning glories bloom only in the soft sunlight of the morning, thence their name. Well, "everybody" is wrong about morning glories.

Several quite contrary morning glories revel in blooming in the hot afternoon sun and even in the midnight hours. Yes, many of the climbing classic vines like Heavenly Blue and Grandpa Ott greet the dawn with tender open blooms that close at midday. But this family has some rebel members.

My favorite discovery in this family is Convulvulus Tricolor, or bush morning glory, which grows only 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Each plant resembles a full bouquet of royal purple flowers trimmed in yellow and white. The tricolor is purple with white and yellow in the center, but bush morning glories come in a range of colors. Get seed packets of several colors, and plant them right next to each other, several seeds together. That way you can have masses of pink, white, and the tricolor. Tricolor morning glories have flowers that stay open all day, even in the hot afternoon sun. They give you a burst of long-lasting color and thrive in containers or any sunny spot. They can come back again the next year by reseeding themselves. What more can we ask of a plant?

The second rebel member of this family is the moonflower. Instead of early morning flowers, these 6-inch fragrant white blooms open only in the evening and seem to glow in the dark. You will want to go outside in the evening to enjoy them. Children and adults find them a bit mysterious and rather magical.

The traditional morning glories are handsome workhorse vines. They do well in containers or in the ground, twining up a trellis or fence. Growing quickly from seed in one season, they will reward you with splashes of color. For new gardens, they can quickly cover large areas, softening harsh lines, and creating an established garden appearance.

The most widely planted varieties deserve their name, since they bloom strongly in the morning with flowers fading in the afternoon. An heirloom and highly prized variety is Grandpa Ott. These magenta flowers grow on a vine that can reach 15 feet in length. For contrast, plant Heavenly Blue. These sky-blue flowers can reach 4 to 6 inches across.

All morning glories are best grown from seed, planted as soon as the danger of frost is over. The wide variety of flower color and form is very dramatic. These vines love sun. Since the seeds are as hard as pebbles, it is a good idea to soak them for two hours, then nick them with a knife and plant them. If you start them early indoors, use peat pots that will go directly into the garden or larger pot. Don't overfeed them because too much fertilizer will give you more vines at the expense of flowers.

They will trail down in a colorful cascade if you have them in large containers. You can train them to grow up by putting a trellis in the pot. Planted next to a sunny wall or fence, they will seize the opportunity and attempt to reach the sun.

So give yourself a treat and buy some packets of different kinds of morning glory seeds. Don't forget the moonflowers, especially if you have children who enjoy flowers.

By Terra Hangen