How to Grow Morning Glories From Seed: Butterflies, Bees and Hummingbirds Will Thank You!

Updated on May 6, 2019
Casey White profile image

Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer in NM.

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Pink, blue, and purple morning glories create a beautiful frame for this little sparrow.Hummingbirds love morning glory vines!  The tubular shape makes it easy for these tiny birds to access the nectar they need.Bumblebees are expert pollinators and they love morning glories.
Pink, blue, and purple morning glories create a beautiful frame for this little sparrow.
Pink, blue, and purple morning glories create a beautiful frame for this little sparrow. | Source
Hummingbirds love morning glory vines!  The tubular shape makes it easy for these tiny birds to access the nectar they need.
Hummingbirds love morning glory vines! The tubular shape makes it easy for these tiny birds to access the nectar they need. | Source
Bumblebees are expert pollinators and they love morning glories.
Bumblebees are expert pollinators and they love morning glories. | Source

Growing Morning Glories From Seed Is Easy

Morning glories (Ipomoea) are some amazing flowers that hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies adore. They are versatile and can be planted in a variety of ways in containers, on a trellis, in a hanging basket, or on a fence. They are also quite stunning to look at when they climb around a lamp post or a mailbox.

Growing a morning glory plant from seeds is incredibly easy, but if you want to get the best results, you need to prepare your seeds before they are planted. There are two ways to prepare them that I use. The tough outer shell can be nicked with an emery board or nail file, or soaked overnight in water. Either way will work, as the purpose of the advanced preparation is to encourage and speed up germination. The step-by-step instructions are included below.

Morning glories are hardy in USDA growing zones 3–10. They have slender stems, heart-shaped leaves, and trumpet-shaped flowers of many colors, depending upon the variety you choose to plant. They are drought-tolerant and will bloom from early summer right up to the first frost.

Poisonous Seeds

Morning glory seeds are toxic, especially in large quantities, so keep them out of the reach of children and pets at all times! They contain a chemical similar to LSD and eating enough of them can cause symptoms that range from diarrhea to hallucinations, both requiring medical care.

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This photo was taken prior to these morning glory seeds being soaked overnight, which opens them up to speed up germination.Once the seeds have soaked overnight, most of them will look like these.  They are ready to be planted and should germinate quickly.I like to use these small pellets on the left to start morning glory seeds.  Just add water and they expand to be about two inches tall like the one on the right.  Gently pull apart the netting at the top and insert your seed into the pellet.When your seedling emerges from the pellet, you can put the pellet into a larger container such as this small peat pot (3" in diameter) until it is time to plant outside.  After the last frost, plant the whole pot into the ground.You can also make your own paper planters that would resemble this one, which is commercially available.  If you don't have money for pots, you can always improvise.
This photo was taken prior to these morning glory seeds being soaked overnight, which opens them up to speed up germination.
This photo was taken prior to these morning glory seeds being soaked overnight, which opens them up to speed up germination.
Once the seeds have soaked overnight, most of them will look like these.  They are ready to be planted and should germinate quickly.
Once the seeds have soaked overnight, most of them will look like these. They are ready to be planted and should germinate quickly.
I like to use these small pellets on the left to start morning glory seeds.  Just add water and they expand to be about two inches tall like the one on the right.  Gently pull apart the netting at the top and insert your seed into the pellet.
I like to use these small pellets on the left to start morning glory seeds. Just add water and they expand to be about two inches tall like the one on the right. Gently pull apart the netting at the top and insert your seed into the pellet.
When your seedling emerges from the pellet, you can put the pellet into a larger container such as this small peat pot (3" in diameter) until it is time to plant outside.  After the last frost, plant the whole pot into the ground.
When your seedling emerges from the pellet, you can put the pellet into a larger container such as this small peat pot (3" in diameter) until it is time to plant outside. After the last frost, plant the whole pot into the ground.
You can also make your own paper planters that would resemble this one, which is commercially available.  If you don't have money for pots, you can always improvise.
You can also make your own paper planters that would resemble this one, which is commercially available. If you don't have money for pots, you can always improvise.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Once you have your seeds ready, do the following:

  • I like to get my morning glories started inside so I can watch over them like a mother hen. Plus, I prefer to start them off in those small peat pellets that expand when they are watered (see photos above). Just put 2–3 seeds that have been soaked overnight in each pod and cover them lightly with some peat moss. I buy the pots that are already in a long, horizontal container with a clear top, which becomes sort of a miniature greenhouse. They work great and I can't say enough about those tiny pods, which eliminate the "dirty hands" part of growing that many people hate.
  • Water thoroughly in the beginning, then be sure to keep your pods moist during germination (but not soaking).
  • Once you begin seeing some sprouts, you know they are rooting and you can move them into a larger pot. I use those 3" biodegradable pots that you will see in the photographs. That's where they will stay until it's time to transplant them outdoors soon after the last frost date. When the time is right, you can plant the whole thing in the ground.
  • Be sure to plant your morning glories in soil that drains well where they will receive a lot of sunshine.

Self-Seeding Annual Flowers

Morning glories are self-seeding annual flowers that will climb several feet if supported. They are beautiful on a trellis or climbing along a fence.

One of my purple morning glories - planted from seed as always.
One of my purple morning glories - planted from seed as always.

A Few Morning Glory Varieties of Note

Name
Appearance
Additional Information
Knowlians Black
Not exactly black, but a very deep, dark purple-black color.
They grow somewhat slower than most other morning glories.
Venice Pink
White blooms striped in pink.
A vining annual that also works great as a groundcover.
Blue Picotee
Huge huge star-shaped blooms that are dark blue with a purple star and a white edge.
Cultivated by the Japanese to have a profusion of beautiful, 5" flowers.
Star of Yelta
These beauties have purple blooms, each bearing a bright pink star and tiny white central dot.
These remain open longer during the day than most other morning glories.
Grandpa Ott
These have a deep, rich purple hue that makes the white star center really stand out.
Like all morning glories, these plants will climb anything in their path.
These Heavenly Blue morning glories would look gorgeous alongside the purple ones pictured above.
These Heavenly Blue morning glories would look gorgeous alongside the purple ones pictured above. | Source

What Insects or Pests Are They Vulnerable To?

Morning glory plants can be vulnerable to attack from several insect pests, including the following:

  • Aphids: These tiny, soft-bodied insects tend to feed in colonies and excrete sweet, sticky honeydew, which can attract ants to the plants and interfere with the plant's photosynthesis. Honeydew can also provide a breeding ground for sooty mold. Ants don't destroy morning glories but they protect aphids by keeping predatory (beneficial) insects away.
  • Caterpillars: The larvae of some moth and butterfly species (caterpillars) will decimate morning glory plants by feeding on the leaves. The result is ugly holes or jagged leaf tears. Often, a plant is completely stripped of its leaves. Some caterpillars bore into the stems of the plants causing them to collapse.
  • Spider mites: They are true spiders, with web-spinning abilities, and they live in colonies and attack morning glory plants on the underside of leaves sucking juices out of the foliage.

Note: If you click on the names of the insects above, you will be transferred to a site that can effectively explain how to eliminate them from your garden.

© 2019 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

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    • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      12 months ago from United States

      I agree completely, Peggy. I hope to have them growing all over our wall around our backyard this year. Thanks!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      13 months ago from Houston, Texas

      At our last home prior to planting shrubbery along our backyard fence, I grew morning glories. They self-seeded after the first year and were so beautiful when in bloom. It is an inexpensive way to embellish a fence.

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