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Morning Glories and Moonflowers

There's something magical about morning glories and moonflowers. Their beautiful green leaves climb and climb, while their blooms come and go with the rising of the sun or the fall of darkness. Cousins of sweet potatoes, these climbers will extend their tendrils to whatever is available - trellis, fence, or post. They can reach six feet (or taller!) with blooms that are about 3-4 inches in diameter for morning glories, 6-8 inches for moonflowers. While moonflowers have only white blooms, morning glories can be found with bloom colors ranging from red to fuschia to purple. Both types of flowers are definite child-pleasers as they are easy to grow and fun to observe.

Growing Tips

Common morning glories and moonflowers, both from the Convolvulaceae family and Ipomoea genus, originated in tropical regions and will grow best in similar conditions. Seeds should be planted outdoors after the last frost - if planted in cold, damp soil, the seeds will rot. Sow the seeds 1/2 inch deep. They can also be started indoors, one month before planting time. The seedcoats are tough, so nick or file the tough overcoat and soak overnight before planting. For transplanting, morning glories and moonflowers will do best if started in peat pots, as this will eliminate root disturbance. When planted outdoors, plants should be spaced 10-12 inches apart.

Due to their tropical nature, morning glories and moonflowers need full sun and regular watering. Don't overfertilize - this will result in more foliage, less blooms. Of course, these plants will need some type of support. The vines grow in a clockwise direction and separate plants will entwine with each other if they don't have a trellis or other support to climb.

Morning glories and moonflowers will thrive in the summer heat. The only maintenance necessary is the occasional deadheading of spent blooms to prevent seeding and to encourage new bloom production. They will continue to grow and bloom until the first frost. Though morning glories and moonflowers are annuals, they have been known to reseed themselves and make an appearance in next-year's garden.

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