There's something magical about morning glories, which do indeed bloom gloriously in the morning, then swirl closed as the day fades.
For growers Sheryl and Marshall Lozier, that's just what makes these vining annuals and perennials so irresistible. As you see in the photo above, perennial blue dawn flower (Ipomoea indica) scrambles up the side of their cottage. Elsewhere, another five-year-old plant weaves through a white-flowered potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) to cover a stucco arch.
"It's not for every garden," Sheryl says of the blue dawn flower. "It'll come in your doors and windows if you let it." To keep the vines in check, the Loziers prune them to 3 feet tall each January.
If you don't have room for this rambunctious rambler, consider its annual counterpart, I. tricolor. Sheryl trains them along the wire fencing of a maze. "They're a must-grow," she says. "Structures that support them don't have to be as strong as for perennial types."
The Loziers' Summers Past Farms ( www.summerspastfarms.com or 619/390-1523), a 5-acre herb farm and nursery near San Diego, is one good place to see and buy morning glories.
No matter which variety you choose, spring is the perfect time to plant. Nurseries stock perennial morning glories in pots and sell seeds of annuals. Plant in well-drained soil after all danger of frost has passed.
How to use the plants
I. indica blooms in one year from seed, but you can also start with young plants. It's a perennial (to 30 feet tall) in Sunset climate zones 8, 9, and 12-24, annual elsewhere (in frost-prone areas, it dies to the ground in winter). Needs sturdy support; use it to cover a bank, fence, trellis, or unsightly structure (like a chain-link fence).
I. tricolor is an annual (to about 15 feet tall) and grows in all zones. Use it for quick color on arbors or trellises, or plant it in large containers; provide tall stakes or wire cylinders for it to climb. Plants reseed profusely; hoe out unwanted sprouts as soon as they appear.
For cut flowers, pick stems with buds in various stages of development; place them in a deep vase. The buds will open on consecutive days.