In Defense of Morning Glories

Recently, I’ve read several garden writers rant against morning glories. These annual vines are ehb-and-grandpa-otts-morning-glory.jpgasy to grow–and grow and grow. They reseed spectacularly, especially the popular old-fashioned variety called Grandpa Otts. It’s the purple one in the first picture. This variety essentially started Seed Savers Exchange, an Iowa supplier of heirloom seeds. I planted Grandpa Otts once about six years ago, and I admit, he has become something of a weed in my front garden bed. About halfway through this past August, Grandpa had a stranglehold on my phlox, a pineapple sage, and an old-fashioned rose, and it took some tugging to get him off.
But this is a defense of morning glories. Despite their tendency to spread and reseed, I love morning glories. First, they are climbers, so they help bring height to the garden, as long as you give them something to climb. They’re pretty, too. They come in lots of colors and they bloom from about mid-July through the first killer frost. On cloudy days, like today, the flowers bloom all day rather than just in the morning. I even like the big, heart-shaped leaves that can cover a wall or climbing apparatus. The tubular shaped flower attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators as well. Just yesterday, I saw an amazing creature buzzing in and out of the morning glories, its wings a blur. At first, I thought it was a hummingbird, but it seemed like one brave bird to be gathering nectar with me and my dog, Lily, only a few feet away. A little research showed that it probably is a hummingbird moth. Still a fascinating sight.

This year, I planted Heavenly Blue morning glory (right) near a tall wrought iroheavenly-blue-morning-glory.jpgn ornament in the front bed. The moonflower I planted with it for night effect died but the morning glory now covers the ornament, which is five feet tall. In the morning, when I get the paper, it’s covered with light blue flowers–with a few dark purple Grandpa Otts in there, too. It sounds hokey, but it’s a cheerful plant, the kind I’m happy to have in my garden.

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