Thursday, February 9, 2012

Morning Glory? or perennial despair?

The question for tomorrows' Flower Fanatics post included an inquiry into Morning Glory and whether or not it is an annual.  We will post the full question and response tomorrow but I wanted to write a bit today about Morning Glory as it is a glorious addition to the garden but brings with it some concern.  The trick here is really just one of name confusion.  Read on and I will do my best to explain the difference.

I am a long-time fan of Morning Glory with its beautiful fairy trumpets in bold or soft blue, pinks, purples, soft reds or lavenders.  The vine brings abundant color and in our zone 7 is very easy to grow.  I planted a few vines in a cluster the year Lola turned one and will never forget her little diapered self admiring it.
The beautiful morning glories (the good guys) are tropical annuals but unlike their namesake, they only grow for one season. Ipomoea tricolor is the climber (reaching 10 to 15 feet) and Convolvulus tricolor is the dwarf, bushy type. They do best if not planted to early in the season, and even better direct seeded as they tend to shy away from too much bothering.  Once planted you can twist their little tendrils into fences, around mailboxes, into sunflower houses and along thin lines of twine creating walls of color.  They are dreamy and I love them. 
Morning Glory....the good guys!

But....there are some vines, quite similar in appearance that give our delightful Morning Glories a bad name.  Learn to distinguish and you will be happy to have one....not so happy to have the other.  Following is a look at the invasive, nearly-impossible to get rid of, bindweed.

Convolvulus arvensis or Hedge Bindweed/Wild Morning Glory

Although some of the good guys (Morning Glory Ipomea) can be found in white or soft pink, chances are good if you have a vine in your yard that pops up like the ghosts on Scooby Doo, you have bindweed and, well, I'm sorry.  They are uber-hard to control with deep roots that can spread out across your yard and keep dormant for up to fifty years.  If you find them, work hard to get rid of them....some swear by vinegar but it didn't do the job for us.  An early season spray of round up, followed by a repeat treatment every couple weeks (three applications worked for us) and than again in the fall.  (by the way I would love to hear any success stories with an earth-friendly organic method of getting rid of this stuff!) Cross your fingers, call on your garden gods, whatever you have in your arsenal and wait out the winter.  When spring comes, if you don't see any you may be good but you won't know for sure for another 49 years....  
In any event, don't confuse them with the beautiful good guys.  Morning Glory Ipomea is stunning and so very worthy of your garden, I promise.    
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. The first morning glory picture with your baby girl is priceless.

  2. I planted morning glory that climbed up into my spruce tree. I thought it was stunning until I realized it choked out the needles on the spruce and left a big brown spot in my tree! And for two seasons afterwards, and even this year, I'm still having to pull volunteers that sprout up from all the seeds they dropped. So you even have to be careful with the beautiful ones. :(


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