What Is a Morning Glory Plant?

Overview

Morning glories are a beautiful backfence-climbing vine. As their name suggests, they open up with the sun, revealing a brightly-colored blossom with a star in the center. They're considered to be a classic, old-fashioned flower. They are also considered a nuisance. "Calling it 'Morning Glory' is the work of a truly evil person," insists Dennis Hincamp of the Utah State University Extension Service. He's not referring to the kind of morning glories people plant in their gardens, but the type found in ditches and undeveloped areas. Unfortunately, it sometimes finds its way into people's yards and when it does, it can wreak havoc.

The Good

Ipomoea tricolor is an annual that climbs 10 to 15 feet. This morning glory is the gardener's delight. The large blossoms come in a variety of colors: soft blue, purple, pink, bluish-purple, and soft red. The vine's leaves are heart-shaped. Another, lesser-known type is the Convolvulus tricolor, a dwarf plant that grows 12 to 18 inches tall and comes in pink, light blue and white. These morning glories bloom from mid-summer until frost.

Planting and Maintenance

Morning glory seeds are hard; soak them overnight before planting. Plant them where they will get plenty of sunshine and water well. If you have a dry spell, continue to water them. In exchange for minimal of care, you'll have a beautiful flowering vine to enjoy for a good two months or more.

The Bad

And then there's bindweed. Bindweed, or Convolvulus arvensis, is the bad seed of the morning glory family. Although it looks a little like the good stuff with its heart-shaped leaves and pink or white flowers, it's another breed altogether. Bindweed grows from rhizomes, thick white stems that grow great distance underground and have the capacity to choke your garden to death by producing massive amounts of new plants, one from each node on their stems. Like most weeds, it thrives anywhere: your soil can be sandy, rocky or clay, and bindweed will like it just fine. Getting rid of bindweed is not easy. "Smothering with a thick mulch is only moderately successful--the roots live a long time without light and travel many feet before they pop up like a cartoon villain in some new locale," said Mary Robson of the Washington State University Extension Service.

The Ugly

In order to eradicate bindweed, you probably need to use the weed killer glyphosate, sold by brand names such as Roundup. At minimum, it will take two or three applications of the herbicide applied weekly. Robson recommends applying glyphosate late in the season in addition to earlier applications, because by then, the plant will absorb the chemicals more as its roots suck up food for the winter.

Prevention

Keeping a thick, healthy lawn will help prevent or stifle bindweed, because grass will crowd it out, according to Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension horticulturist. He recommends mowing the lawn to 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall and fertilizing regularly, but not watering it too much, because that makes the bindweed grow and encourages shallow root growth for the grass.

Keywords: Morning glories, Bindweed, Ipomoea tricolor, Morning glory

About this Author

Janet Clark has worked as a professional writer for nine years. She has had more than 400 articles published. Her work has appeared in The Iowan, Iowa Gardening, Friends Journal,The Des Moines Register, Today Magazine, Fort Dodge Business Review,The Messenger, and CareerApple.com. She has also written a novel, Blind Faith. Clark has received several awards from the Iowa Press Women for her work.