By Anne Baley
For many people, the summer garden always includes a tumble of shiny green leaves and sky blue flowers growing on a fence or up the side of a porch. Morning glories are old-fashioned crowd-pleasers, simple to grow and tough enough to grow in almost any environment. The classic Heavenly Blue morning glory flowers aren’t the only types that grow, however. Let’s learn more about some common morning glory varieties.
Morning Glory Plant Family
Morning glories are members of the Convolvulaceae family, which takes on a number of forms, depending on the part of the world in which it developed. There are over 1,000 types of morning glory flowers, from colorful climbers to subtle ground covers. From cheerful flowers to edible plants, how many morning glory relatives do you know? Here are some of the most common morning glory varieties.
- The most familiar of the morning glories for the garden is probably the domestic morning glory vine. This climber has dark and shiny heart-shaped leaves and trumpet-shaped vines that open first thing in the morning, hence the name. The blooms come in a variety of colors from shades of blue to pinks and purples.
- Moonflowers, a cousin of the domestic morning glory, has hand-sized brilliant white flowers that open when the sun goes down and blooms all night long. These morning glory flowers make great additions to moon gardens.
- Bindweed is a morning glory relative that is a problem with many farms and gardens. The woody stems twine themselves among other plants, strangling out its competitors. A version of this type of plant, known as a dodder, looks like a miniature version of the domestic morning glory flower. Its roots take over everything underground, and one root system can spread up to half a mile.
- Water spinach is a morning glory relative that’s sold in Asian specialty stores as a tasty vegetable. The long thin stems are topped with arrow-shaped leaves, and the stems are sliced and used in stir fry dishes.
- One of the most surprising of the morning glory relatives may be another edible plant, the sweet potato. This vine won’t spread nearly as far as most of its relatives, but the large roots below the ground are a variation that is grown all over the country.
Note: Native Americans in the Southwest used rare varieties of morning glory seeds in their spiritual life as a hallucinogenic. The difference between a lethal dose and one designed to send someone to the spirit world is so close, only the most knowledgeable of people are ever allowed to try the experience.