Plant of the week: Morn­ing glory

These twin­ing an­nu­als al­ways bring a splash of colour

Garden News (UK) - - Contents -

You know sum­mer has ar­rived when the vi­brant blooms of morn­ing glory, or ipo­moea, trum­pet their pres­ence. These half hardy plants, a mix of twin­ing an­nual and ten­der peren­nial climbers, are usu­ally grown for sum­mer dis­play and dis­carded af­ter flow­er­ing. Rapid grow­ing, they soon cover a te­pee of canes, or grow over an ar­bour clothed in blooms from mid-sum­mer through to au­tumn, with only pure yel­low form­ing the rarest colour. Each flower lasts just a day, or in the case of the moon­flower, I. alba, just a night, but are re­placed with a suc­ces­sion of blooms through to au­tumn.

The vines are clothed in heart-shaped, or lobed fo­liage, with Vic­to­rian hy­brid I. slo­teri hav­ing the most in­tri­cately shaped leaves, ideal for smaller spa­ces. They do well in warm, sunny sum­mers but can also be grown in­doors in a con­ser­va­tory, with the more del­i­cately bloomed va­ri­eties from Ja­pan, such as I. nil ‘Choco­late’ do­ing bet­ter in such con­di­tions, but keep a watch out for at­tacks by red spi­der mite.

Morn­ing glo­ries are eas­ily grown from seed sown in spring, un­der glass at a tem­per­a­ture of 20C (68F). Pot seedlings on, train up short canes and grad­u­ally harden off be­fore plant­ing out­doors af­ter late frost has passed in June. Seed coats can be hard so chip with a knife or soak seed in warm wa­ter overnight be­fore sow­ing. They like moist, welldrained, rich soil in full sun, in a shel­tered po­si­tion. Pinch out growth when they’ve reached

their de­sired height and re­move spent flow­ers as they form.

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