Some people love them and others deplore morning glory flowers. But are there any benefits of morning glory vines in the garden? What about morning glory control? These are both valid questions and we will explore the answers here so you can decide if morning glory pros outweigh the cons of growing these plants in your garden.
Reasons to Grow Morning Glories
(Mary Ellen's viewpoint) I have a great memory from childhood - checking on the morning glories that grew up the trellis in our backyard. I loved to see when they closed and that they opened again the next morning. These beautiful, vining flowers have a great sense of whimsy and magic about them and make a great addition to any garden, for both kids and adults.
Planting morning glory flowers isn't difficult and there are many other good reasons to grow morning glories in your flower garden. Here are some of the most important morning glory pros to inspire you to add this pretty flower to your garden:
Easy-to-grow vine. If you like vining plants, this is an easy one to grow. Morning glory thrives in a lot of conditions and grows quickly and readily. It will easily spread up any vertical surface you provide, requiring perhaps just a little guidance from you.
Gorgeous flowers that open at dawn. What could be more magical than watching pretty flowers open in the morning and shut down in the afternoon? The flowers are stunning, trumpet-shaped blooms that add color and quaintness to any kind of garden.
Unique blue flowers. There are few flowers you can put in the garden that are truly blue. Many blue flowers are really more lavender, but if you have ever seen a blue morning glory, it is bright, vibrant, cornflower blue and it is striking. Try the 'Heavenly Blue' variety for the best blue color.
Lower cooling costs. In the hot summer months, using morning glory vines to cover sun-soaked walls can actually reduce heat in your home.
Provide a quick screen. Because morning glory vines grow quickly, you can get a fast screen for ugly areas of your yard or for privacy.
Attract pollinators. Bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators are drawn to these trumpet-shaped flowers, so you will be supporting the local ecosystem by growing morning glories.
Stay Away from Morning Glory Weeds
(Laura's viewpoint) Are morning glory vines noxious weeds or beautiful native plants? Some gardeners feel it's all in the eyes of the beholder. I disagree. As members of a community, gardeners are not only responsible for the plants growing on their property, but also for the plants which have escaped from their gardens. With so many other beautiful flower varieties available, why risk it? My cons of morning glories? Here you go:
Vigorous, highly competitive plant. Of the many cons of morning glories, the fact they're highly competitive, vigorous growing vines is the primary reason some gardeners feel they are weeds. It's not uncommon for morning glories to grow 15 feet (4.5 m.) in a season. They spread rapidly and can quickly crowd out other garden plants. They grow in any type of soil, which makes it more difficult to eradicate the morning glory. Control of unwanted morning glories is best achieved by pulling young vines, but herbicides can also be used.
Limited flowering. As their name implies, morning glories have a limited bloom time. Shade stimulates the blossoms to shrivel, so planting morning glories in anything less than full sun means they will only bloom a fraction of the day. This greatly inhibits their ability to contribute to a showy flower garden.
Confusion with bindweed. One of the most important reasons to pull morning glories out of the garden is their similarity to bindweed. Also called creeping jenny, bindweed has flowers and leaves which are amazingly similar to morning glory. Seasoned gardens may be able to make the distinction, but identifying bindweed might be difficult for the neighbors. Those admiring morning glory in your garden may unintentionally cultivate bindweed. This invasive weed is not only tough to eradicate, it's also toxic to children and pets. The seeds pose the biggest threat.
Morning glory control is difficult. Even though morning glories are grown as annuals outside of tropical climates, one would hardly know it based on their ability to self-seed. Plant these vines one season and year after year gardeners find more morning glory. Control of this aggressive weed-like plant can only be achieved by deadheading the flowers before they produce seeds. If the gardener misses one year's batch of seeds due to an illness, injury or family problem, it's all too easy for this very competitive vine to escape unnoticed.
Another of the reasons to pull morning glories when they first appear is their resistance to herbicides as they mature. Both systemic and broadleaf herbicides are most effective when used on young morning glory vines. At this stage, gardeners may find it easier to remove the twining vines by hand as there's less risk of overspray reaching other desirable plants. Once the plants mature, they can be difficult to remove.
Planting Morning Glory Flowers
Laura goes on to say that "the difficulty in controlling the unintentional spread of these vines is the primary reason I don't grow morning glory. Weeds and weeding are my least favorite aspects of gardening. I don't want to plant annuals which vigorously return every year, especially since it can take years to eradicate unwanted morning glories from the garden. I feel there are so many more flowers with positive attributes I can choose for my garden."
On the other hand, Mary Ellen feels there are many benefits of morning glory vines, not least of which is the sense of magic they bring to a flower garden. "Perfect for a trellis, fence, back deck or patio, or even to beautify a mailbox, these lovely vines will grow nearly anywhere and add a touch of color and whimsy."
With such strong feelings for and against the planting of morning glories, it can only be left up to the individual gardener to decide whether or not these flowers are worth it in the end. Our recommendation is to thoroughly research the morning glory plants beforehand to ensure what you are actually planting is, indeed, an annual morning glory species and that you're willing to put in the extra maintenance that may be required in keeping it manageable.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
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