An In-Depth Look at Morning Glory Seedlings

Morning glories are a popular annual climbing vine grown for their brightly colored trumpet-shaped flowers. They are easy to grow from seed and will quickly cover a fence or trellis with their rapid growth. Look in-depth at morning glory seedlings and how they grow from seed to mature vines.

Starting Morning Glory Seeds

Starting Morning Glory Seeds

Morning glories (Ipomoea spp.) are usually started from seed directly outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. The seeds have a hard outer coating that needs to be nicked or soaked in water overnight to allow moisture to penetrate and trigger germination.

Some tips for starting morning glory seeds:

  • Nick the seed coat with a file or soak seeds in water for 12-24 hours before planting. This allows water to penetrate the tough outer shell.
  • Plant seeds 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart after the danger of frost has passed. Morning glories prefer full sun.
  • Keep soil moist, not soaked, as seeds germinate. Expect sprouts in 5-14 days.
  • Seeds can also be started indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost date. Use peat pots to avoid disturbing the taproot during transplanting.
  • Soak peat pots before planting and keep them evenly moist. Grow seedlings at 70°F until sprouted.

Proper seed starting results in faster germination and healthier seedlings. The seed coat nicking or soaking allows water to reach the embryo and trigger growth. Keeping seeds consistently moist prevents them from drying out. Indoor starts help get a head start on the season but require careful hardening off before transplanting.

Seedling Emergence

Once planted, morning glory seeds will germinate in 5-14 days if soil conditions are right. Here’s what to look for as seedlings emerge:

  • The the first sign is that the radical (taproot) pokes through the seed coat and extends into the soil.
  • Next, cotyledons (embryonic first leaves) emerge above the soil surface. These fat, rounded leaves are yellowish-green.
  • The first true leaves follow the cotyledons. They are heart- or arrow-shaped and have a bluish-green color.
  • Seedlings grow a central taproot quickly to establish the plant. It can extend a foot deep in just a few weeks.
  • Seedlings may be purple-stemmed or green. Some have hairy stems and leaves.
  • They exhibit rapid upward growth, quickly reaching several inches in height.
  • The second set of true leaves emerges within 10-14 days as the plant continues growing.

Healthy morning glory seedlings look vigorous with thick stems and healthy green, unblemished leaves—proper care results in rapid growth within just days of germination.

Early Growth and Development

The first few weeks are essential for establishing vigorous morning glory vines. Here’s what to expect:

  • Rapid stem elongation – vines can grow 6 inches or more per week under ideal conditions. Growth is fastest when temperatures are 70-90°F.
  • Leaf shape changes – First, leaves are heart-shaped, then become arrowhead-shaped. Later leaves are triangular or deeply lobed.
  • Climbing tendrils emerge – Tendrils emerge at leaf axils, allowing vines to cling to supports.
  • Root development – Taproot drives down deep and shallow feeder roots and expands horizontally near the soil surface.
  • Flower buds develop – Flower buds appear at leaf axils on newer growth as plants mature.
  • Hardening off – Gradually introduce outdoor conditions over 7-10 days if started indoors.

Proper early care includes keeping plants consistently watered, fertilizing lightly if growth is slow, and supporting vines to climb once tendrils emerge. Give them an early start on a trellis or fence. Morning glories grow incredibly fast, so prepare for rapid upward growth.

Nutrient Needs

Morning glories thrive in moderately fertile soil with good drainage. Here are their nutrient requirements:

  • Nitrogen – Boosts leaf and stem growth. Deficiency causes overall yellowing.
  • Phosphorus – Aids root, flower, and seed development. Boosts blooming and ripening.
  • Potassium – Important for plant vigor and disease resistance. Deficiency causes marginal leaf scorching.
  • Calcium – Needed for healthy cell growth and proper root and leaf development.
  • Iron – Essential for photosynthesis and chlorophyll synthesis. Deficiency appears as interveinal chlorosis.
  • Magnesium – Key component of chlorophyll needed for photosynthesis and growth.
  • Boron – Helps with cell wall formation and structural support of vines.
  • Manganese – Involved in chloroplast formation essential for photosynthesis.

Fertilize lightly with a balanced 10-10-10 or similar formula if soils are poor or growth is stunted. Avoid over-fertilizing, which can cause excess leaf growth at the expense of flowers.

Watering Needs

Morning glory seedlings need consistently moist soil to establish a healthy root system and power rapid top growth. Here are their water requirements:

  • Water thoroughly after planting seeds to settle the soil and initiate germination.
  • Keep soil moist but not saturated for 5-14 days until sprouts emerge.
  • Water lightly daily or every other day, depending on the soil. Avoid soil drying out completely.
  • Gradually, it begins watering deeper and less frequently as plants mature.
  • Established vines need 1-2 inches of water per week from rain or irrigation.
  • Check soil moisture 2-3 inches down before watering. Water is when the surface is dry, but deeper soil is still moist.
  • Provide extra water during hot, dry periods or in sandy soils.

The proper watering is vital – water thoroughly, then allow the surface to dry somewhat before rewatering. Proper moisture also depends on soil type and current weather conditions. Consistent moisture stimulates the best growth and flowering.

Pests and Diseases

Morning glory seedlings are pretty robust but can be affected by certain pests and diseases, including:

  • Leaf miners – Larvae tunnel between leaf surfaces, causing white winding trails or blotches. Control with row covers or insecticidal soap.
  • Slugs – Chew holes in leaves, especially in excellent, damp conditions. Remove by hand or trap with beer.
  • Aphids – Suck plant sap and secrete honeydew. Spray off with water or use insecticidal soap.
  • Fusarium wilt – Fungal disease causes leaves to yellow and wilt. Avoid overhead watering and space plants for good airflow.
  • Root rot – Fungal disease triggered by overwatering. Allow soil to dry between waterings.
  • Viruses – Mosaic virus causes mottled yellowing and stunted growth—control aphids that transmit viruses. Pull and destroy infected plants.

The best defenses are prevention by starting with disease-free seed, avoiding overwatering, and controlling pests before they spread. Rapidly remove any diseased seedlings to prevent infection of healthy vines.

Support for Optimal Growth

As fast-growing vines, morning glories require sturdy support to climb upwards and avoid flopping over once they reach a few feet tall. Here are some options:

  • Trellises – Ideal for covering vertical spaces like walls and fences. It can be simple wooden or metal structures or more elaborate crossed lattices.
  • Obelisks – Single post trellises allow vines to vary the structure as they ascend upward. Place a 3-4 foot obelisk near each plant.
  • Arbors – Bend flexible vines over an arbor and weave them through the structure for stunning displays.
  • Netting – Staple nylon or plastic mesh netting to fences, buildings, and train vines across it.
  • Strings – Tie vertical strings from top to bottom of a fence and wind vines up them to control growth.

Give vines early support to climb their tendrils as soon as they emerge. Set up trellises, arbors, etc., before planting seeds or transplanting starts. Morning glory vines can grow up to 10 feet tall, so installations should be 6-8 feet tall. Sturdy support results in vertical growth rather than sprawling tangled vines.

When to Harvest Seeds

If you wish to collect morning glory seeds for future planting, harvest them once the seed pods are fully mature:

  • Allow flowers to wither, dry up, and fall off the vine naturally.
  • Seed pods will form behind each spent flower and begin to swell.
  • Monitor pods daily as they mature. The pods will turn brown and brittle when the seeds are fully ripe.
  • Before the pods split open, collect them into paper bags.
  • Break pods open carefully over a container to catch drifting seeds.
  • Discard pods, trash, and immature seeds. Allow good seeds to fully dry.
  • Label bags carefully with variety and date. Store in an airtight container in a cool.

Common Varieties

There are many lovely varieties of morning glories to grow. Some common types include:

  • Heavenly Blue – Vibrant actual blue flowers on heart-shaped leaves. A classic variety that thrives.
  • Crimson Rambler – Deep red trumpet flowers on a green vine. Blooms earlier than other varieties.
  • Clarke’s Heavenly Blue – Silvery blue flowers with unique white throats. A popular large-flowered type.
  • Scarlett O’Hara – Bright red blooms set off nicely against dark green foliage. Does well in hot climates.
  • Ruby Moon – Gorgeous red and white swirled, twisted flowers. An eye-catching bi-color type.
  • Flying Saucers – Unique star-shaped flowers in striped and solid colors. It’s a fun variation on classic trumpet flowers.
  • Grandpa Ott – Deep purple flowers with red star-shaped throats on dark vines. Deer and rabbit resistant.

There are also many lovely heirloom varieties and exciting new hybrids being introduced. Try several colors and flower forms for a diverse morning glory display.

Tips for Healthy Growth

Tips for Healthy Growth

Following some simple tips will lead to successfully growing morning glories:

  • Select a sunny location with fertile, well-drained soil. Give vines room to climb.
  • Sow seeds directly in the garden after the danger of frost. Presoak or nick seeds before planting.
  • Water newly planted seeds daily until sprouts emerge, then provide consistent moisture.
  • Install trellises and other supports early before vines start climbing.
  • Apply balanced fertilizer monthly if soils are poor. Avoid over-fertilizing.
  • Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage ongoing blooming. Deadhead vines weekly.
  • Monitor for common pests like aphids and mitigate issues immediately. Be vigilant.
  • Collect seeds in autumn for planting the following year. Store properly to maintain viability.
  • Pull up finished vines at the end of the season and discard diseased plant material.

Follow these simple tips starting with seedlings, and you’ll have gorgeous morning glory vines covered in flowers all season long. A bit of effort leads to great rewards!

Common Questions

How long do morning glory seeds take to germinate?

Morning glory seeds usually germinate in 5-14 days after planting if given proper pre-treatment and kept consistently moist. Nicking or soaking the seeds before planting helps speed up the process.

What are the ideal soil conditions for starting morning glories?

Morning glories thrive in moist, well-drained soil that is moderately fertile. The ideal pH range is 5.8-7.0. Adding compost improves dense or clay soils. They grow best in full sun.

Should morning glory seedlings be thinned?

Yes, thinning your morning glory seedlings encourages more robust growth. Once the vines are 3-4 inches tall, thin them to the final spacing of 6 inches apart, and handle seedlings gently when transplanting.

When is it safe to transplant morning glory seedlings outside?

Wait until after the last expected frost date and the soil has thoroughly warmed up, usually May or June. Harden off transplants for 7-10 days first. Use peat pots to minimize root disturbances when transplanting starts.

How much water do morning glory seedlings need?

Keep morning glory seedlings consistently moist, not soaked. Water transplants lightly every day until established. Then, provide 1-2 inches of water per week from rain or irrigation, adjusting for soil type and weather conditions.


Morning glories are easy and satisfying annual vines to grow from seed. A little effort spent on proper planting, careful ongoing care, and supporting the fast-growing vines will provide you with months of abundant, colorful trumpet-shaped blossoms. An in-depth look at Broccoli seedlings emphasizes the importance of attentive care similar to morning glories, where understanding your plants’ specific needs leads to robust seedlings and flourishing vines adorned with vibrant blooms, transforming any space with vertical color throughout the warm season.

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