10 things you need to know about morning glories and moonflowers

Morning glories and moonflowers are known for their ability to climb up trellises and arbors, displaying gorgeous blooms known to attract hummingbirds and butterflies with their intoxicating fragrance. When kept in check they both make beautiful, low-maintenance, additions to a yard or garden. Choosing between them comes down to when you want visible blooms.
Both members of the flowering plant genus Ipomoea, morning glories and moonflowers are related to bindweed (an aggressive, invasive weed), sweet potato vine, cardinal climber and cypress vines. Plants in this genus are known for their funnel-shaped or tubular flowers.
1. Their name dictates when blooms open
The big difference between the two plants is when you see their flowers open. Morning glory plants bloom early in the day — sometimes as early as 4 a.m. — with the blooms lasting until afternoon. On cool, overcast days the blooms may stay open longer. Moonflowers open at sunset and stay open until the following morning when the sun rises.
2. Great for container gardening
Morning glories and moonflowers need little care other than watering and making sure they get enough sunlight. Their low maintenance makes them great choices for container gardening or growing directly in the ground.
3. Give them lots of sunlight
The more sun exposure the plants have, the more blooms you will see on the vines. They prefer full sun conditions but still will grow in partial shade.
4. Provide them with something to climb
Morning glories and moonflower vines grow 15 to 20 feet in a single season if the growing conditions are good. They create a very little footprint in the garden when given a trellis, arbor or fence to climb.
5. Both plants thrive in poor soils
As long as soils are well-drained, both types of plants grow and flourish in poor soils whether they be rocky or sandy. They are known to establish themselves in disturbed areas such as roadsides and fence rows, growing wild. This makes them a useful option for planting in areas of your garden with lackluster soil.
6. Perennial plants, typically grown as annuals
According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, these quickly growing vines are both classified as perennial plants in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12, but can only be grown as annual plants in climates that experience harder winters. Vines can withstand a slight frost, but anything more kills the plants.
7. Pinch back tops to promote flowering
When plants are actively growing, blooms may first appear at the upper portions of the vines. Promote flowering on the lower sections by pinching back the top of the plant where it is actively growing.
8. Apply high phosphorus, low-nitrogen fertilizer
Plants need both nitrogen and phosphorus for growth, but flowering vines have different nutritional needs than other garden or yard plants. Look for fertilizers that contain more phosphorus and have a lower nitrogen content for increased blooms versus vine growth. Nitrogen fertilizers promote vegetative growth, whereas phosphorus encourages flower development and blooming.
9. Prune for healthy growth
Through the season prune off dead or diseased sections of the vine. Remove vines that are overly tangled and errant stems growing away from the support structure.
10. Seeds can be toxic
The seeds of both morning glories and moonflowers contain lysergic acid, a compound known to be toxic when ingested. Take care when planting them where small children or pets are in close proximity.

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