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Morning Glories

Once you grow morning glories, you'll always have a special place for them: in your heart.

Morning glories are vigorous annual vines with beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers. They thrive in hot weather and in sunny spots, and bloom prolifically through the summer. Their unfailingly cheerful flowers open fresh every morning. They only last for a day, but you will not miss the ones that fade, because a morning glory vine will produce more blooms than you can ever count. Plant morning glories with a child and you have cultivated a gardener for life.

"People feel affectionately about some plants, and morning glories are one of them," says Lisa Hilgenberg, a horticulturist at Chicago Botanic Garden. "There is an emotional attachment."

At the Chicago Botanic Garden, morning glories flourish in the English walled garden. They are twining plants, allowing them to climb trellises, arbors, garden obelisks, or tepees made of tomato stakes. The vines only look delicate: they take hold easily, require little training, and hold fast to their support all summer long. Morning glories are such eager climbers that you can train them to grow up a string; in the course of a summer, the vines will obscure a chain-link fence.

'Heavenly Blue' is the classic and most popular morning glory, but pink, white, purple, and red morning glories are also available — 'Carnevale di Venezia' has marvelously striped blooms. 'Grandpa Ott' produces velvety purple blooms early and keeps blooming all summer long. 'Cotton Candy' has ruffled, double pink flowers, with vines that only grow to about six feet. Giant white moonflowers are also in the morning glory family; they're perfect for commuters who might get home too late to watch the early show of morning glories: moonflowers bloom in the evening, with large, luminous white flowers.

All morning glories, including moonflowers, thrive in sunny spots, tolerate drought, and are not bothered by pests. They are very easy to grow from seed. The hard seed coating may be nicked with nail clippers or soaked overnight (but no longer than eight hours) before planting to encourage germination, but, above all, these pretty summer vines need warm weather, so wait until all danger of frost has passed and the soil begins to warm up, and then plant the seeds grow and water well. Plant them where you can see the flowers as you come and go — every morning, they'll be there for you.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Power string trimmers are dangerous to trees planted in turf. The tender bark of young trees is especially vulnerable to injury from the whirling nylon string as it cuts back tall grass at their base. The smallest wound provides access for insects or disease to tree tissues. Spread mulch or plant groundcovers over tree root zones to keep grass and trimmers a safe distance from trees. If a tree is damaged, clean the wound with a sharp knife to removed tattered bark. In most cases the plant will heal itself.