If you are looking for plants that offer maximum rewards for minimal effort, look no further than annual vines. Morning glories are perhaps the most common annual vine, and for good reason, they are very easy to grow from seed, thrive even in poor soil, they grow quickly, are easy to maintain, and flower abundantly.
Even gardeners with limited space can enjoy annual vines because they'll grow vertically, requiring just a square foot or two of actual garden space. Lacking that, urban gardeners can plant vines in containers or window boxes and train them up and around a window frame.
Ipomoea alba is a close relative of the popular Ipomoea purpurea, the morning glory and has similar heart shaped leaves. Throughout the summer, fragrant pure white flowers up to 15cm (6in) wide will quickly open at night, releasing a powerfully sweet perfume into the evening air. Technically a tender perennial, in areas too cold to permit their survival in winter they are grown as an annual ornamental plant.
This fast growing vine grows quickly and can reach over 3 metres (10ft) in summer. It is well suited for growing on a trellis, or climbing through an obelisk or in containers on a sunny patio. It can also be used as a ground cover and left to sprawl over a stone wall or bank.
A wonderful plant for a moth, night, or fragrance garden, The ideal location for this wonderful vine is near the patio or a walk way used at night where you can enjoy the fragrant scent in the evening. The large white blooms appear to illuminate the garden, opening at dusk and remaining open all night.
Choose a sunny position with moist soil, the plants cannot grow or bloom properly in the shade. The seed coating is rather hard, and it will hasten germination if you stand the seeds in tepid water for a day or two before sowing.
Sowing: Sow indoors in late winter, or outdoors in early spring
Sow indoors in early spring no sooner than 3 to 4 weeks before the last expected frosts, and 4 weeks before you plan to plant them outside. Alternatively, the seed can also be sown directly where they are to flower once all risk of frosts has passed. Keep soil moist during germination.
Sow into individual pots or trays of seed compost. Paper or peat pots are preferable. Use well drained soil and cover to a depth of 3mm (1/8in). Maintain a temperature of around 20°C (68°F) and keep the compost moist. Germination will take place 5 to 14 days
Plants are extremely resentful of root disturbance, even when they are quite small, and should be potted up almost as soon as they germinate. Prick out to individual pots, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out in growing position after the last expected frosts. Space 15cm (6in) apart. Consider giving them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away actively.
Prepare the ground well and rake to a fine tilth. If sowing more than one annual in the same bed, mark the sowing areas with a ring of sand and label. Sow 1mm (1/18th in) deep in rows 7cm (3in) apart. Sow seed sparingly or they will choke out other seedlings.
The seedlings will appear in rows approx 3-4 weeks after planting and can be easily told from nearby weed seedlings. Thin the seedlings out so they are finally 30cm (12in) apart. Carefully replant thinned plants.
Unless you wish to let the vines sprawl over a stone wall or bank, you'll need to provide some type of support. Fortunately, the plants can be trained to a simple string trellis, no fancy or expensive wood structures are needed as with heavier, woody perennial vines.
The simplest support consists of a few vertical strands of heavy twine secured at the top to the eave, allowed to dangle to the ground, and trimmed so they reach a few inches above the soil line. Vines planted below will quickly find the strings and start climbing. Or, secure a mesh trellis, the kind sold to support peas to the siding, making sure there's a few inches between the wall and mesh to give the vines room to twine. A simple tepee made from three or more sturdy branches or bamboo poles is another simple solution. Leave one section open and you've created a little hideaway for your children.
Remove spent flowers to encourage prolific blooming and if you do not wish to have volunteer seedlings next year.
The seeds of Ipomoea are harmful if eaten.
Clambering up Trellis, Obelisks and Trees. Also for Containers and Tubs.
Introduced into cultivation in the late 1800's, Ipomoea alba is native to tropical and subtropical regions of America, from northern Argentina to Mexico and Florida.
Ipomoea is from the Greek ips meaning ‘a worm’ and homoios meaning ‘resembling’ thus meaning 'like a worm,' referring to the twining habit of the plant's growth.
The word 'alba' refers to the white colour of the flowers. It derives from the Latin word album for a ‘writing tablet’ now used to mean ‘white’ in reference to the tablets historically being white.
The common names of Moonflower or Lady-of-the-night referring to the flowers habit of opening at night, it attracts night pollinating moths to the fragrant flowers.
Ipomoea species are also commonly called Morning Glory, this usually refers to other ipomoea species which open their new blooms at the beginning of each day. It is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae. Pronounced kon-volv-yoo-lus it is taken from the Latin convolvere, meaning to twine around.
Though formerly classified as genus Calonyction, species aculeatum, it is now properly assigned to genus Ipomoea, subgenus Quamoclit, section Calonyction.
It can still be found under a number of synonyms: Ipomoea noctiflora, Calonyction aculeatum, Calonyction album, Calonyction pulcherrimum.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25 Seeds Family Convolvulaceae Genus Ipomoea Species alba Synonym Ipomoea noctiflora, Calonyction aculeatum Common Name Lady-of-the-night Other Common Names Moonvine, Giant White Morning Glory Other Language Names Ipomoea bona-nox Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Flowers Fragrant pure white flowers Natural Flower Time June to September Height 3 metres (10ft) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun for best performance Time to Sow Sow indoors in late winter, or outdoors in early spring Germination 5 to 21 days Notes Vine/Climber