Ipomoea purpurea 'Grandpa Ott' flowers of intense violet-blue, with a ruby red star produced in profusion on the plant. It is a good climber for walls, trellis work or if allowed to scramble through other plants or trees.
It may be grown in a warm sheltered spot outdoors, or inside a conservatory. The blue, trumpet shaped flowers up to 7cm (2½in) across, close in the afternoon and are attractive to bees and butterflies. It requires a warm sunny position and well drained soil.
This heirloom morning glory originated in Bavaria (Germany). 'Grandpa Ott' is one of the original Bavarian varieties that started Seed Savers Exchange. It was given to Kent and Diane (Ott) Whealy in 1972 by her grandfather, Baptist John Ott, who lived on a 40-acre farm near St. Lucas, Iowa.
Kent Whealy and Diane Ott Whealy, founded the Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of the seed lines of heirloom plants and to the sharing of such seeds both through sales and by facilitating exchanges among member gardeners. The organisation works to maintain genetic diversity in both food crops and ornamental plants.
Seed Savers Exchange is credited with very valuable contributions to conserving the genetic diversity of vegetable crops especially those of the USA. In 1988 Mr. Whealy received a Fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation.
Choose a sunny position with moist soil, they 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 three to four weeks before the last expected frosts, and four 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. Germination will take place in 5 to 14 days
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 and keep compost moist.
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.
Sow once the soil has warmer and all risk of frost has passed. 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 three to four 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.
Ipomoea needs a sunny position for best flowering, but is quite happy to be planted in dappled shade as long as there is room for the plant to climb up to the sunlight.
The plants can grow to a height of 2 to 3 metres (6 to 10ft) and will require the support of a trellis, canes or wires fixed to a wall.
Ipomoea is quite happy to be grown in a container, as long as due care is taken with watering and feeding. In hot climates provide a saucer under the container to maximise the water available to the plant. The size of the container will determine the ultimate size of the plant. A larger pot will need a trellis as a larger plant will be able to be grown.
Remove spent flowers to encourage prolific blooming. Plants will self sow in the right conditions, remove spent flowers or collect dried seed pods if you do not wish to have volunteer seedlings next year.
Clambering up Trellis, Obelisks and Trees. Also useful for Containers and Tubs.
The seeds of Ipomoea are one of the easiest for gardeners to harvest themselves for sowing the following year.
Soon after the petals fade from the flowers, you'll notice the seed pods begin to swell. Wait until the seed pods turn brown and begin to dry. Ripe seeds turn black and hard once they are ready to be harvested and the rounded brown pod turns crisp. If you squeeze a seed pod and it is ready to release the seeds, it will crumble in your hands. If you apply pressure to a seed pod that isn't quite ready it may be soft or pliable and won't break apart. Eventually the pod will dry out and open naturally to release the seeds, they will self sow themselves and begin growing into plants the following spring.
Squeeze the black seeds from their pods and place them into a brown paper bag or envelope. Do not forget to label and date them and store somewhere cool and dry for next year. By the time you have finished you will have shelves stuffed with the makings of next year’s garden.
Note that seeds of Ipomoea along with many other species, can be harmful if eaten especially if eaten in quantity. Store seeds somewhere cool and dry and always keep them safely out of reach from both children and pets.
The genus Ipomoea, with over 500 species, is the largest genus in the family Convolvulaceae. The genus occurs throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, and comprises annual and perennial herbaceous plants, vines, shrubs and small trees. Most of the species are twining climbing plants.
Ipomoea purpurea species are native to Mexico and Central America and are naturalised throughout warm temperate and subtropical regions of the world. The plant is predisposed to moist and rich soil, but can be found growing in a wide array of soil types.
Although Ipomoea purpurea was introduced into the United States from Mexico, little is known about the specific geographic origins. Based on genetic assignment analysis, haplotype composition, and the degree of shared polymorphism, Ipomoea purpurea samples from the Southeastern United States have been found to be genetically most similar to samples from the Valley of Mexico and Veracruz State. This supports earlier speculation that Ipomoea purpurea in the Southeastern United States was likely to have been introduced by European colonists from sources in Central Mexico.
Ipomoea purpurea was introduced into France in 1629. It has been cultivated in Europe and North America for a long time, and most gardening varieties brought up there. It was introduced into Japan in the Fukuoka region around Kanei 7 (1630) where it is known as 'Yatubusa'. The Flaked strain was imported in the middle period of the Meiji era (1868-1912).
Ipomoea is from the Greek ips meaning ‘a worm’ and homoios meaning ‘resembling’ thus 'like a worm,' referring to the twining habit of the plant's growth
The species name tricolour (spelt tricolor in the US) simply means three colours.
Many Ipomoea species are known as Morning Glory, a name shared with some other related genera. It is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae. The name of Morning Glory refers to the plants habit of opening its new blooms at the beginning of each day.
In cultivation, Ipomoea tricolor is very commonly grown misnamed as Ipomoea violacea, actually a different though related species.
Ipomoea is a member of the Convolvulus family, pronounced kon-volv-yoo-lus is taken from the Latin convolvere, meaning to twine around.
Synonyms include: Convolvulus purpureus, Ipomoea hirsutula, Ipomoea purpurea var. diversifolia, Pharbitis purpurea
The variety 'Grandpa Ott' is named for Baptist John Ott, originally from Bavaria, he was the original 'Seed Saver'!
Baptist John Ott:
Kent Whealy, a journalist who got interested in heirloom plants when Baptist Ott, his wlfe's grandfather, gave him some bean, tomato, and morning glory seeds he had brought from Bavaria and kept going for four human generations.
Whealy was soon so involved in seed saving that he quit his day job, lived through some financial hard times, and eventually founded a non-profit organisation called Seed Savers Exchange that became the rallying point for individuals interested in saving heirloom plant varieties from extinction.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2 grams Average Seed Count 75 Seeds Family Convolvulaceae Genus Ipomoea Species purpurea Cultivar Grandpa Ott Synonym Convolvulus purpureus, Ipomoea hirsutula, Ipomoea purpurea var. diversifolia, Pharbitis purpurea Common Name Heirloom Morning Glory Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers June to September Height 2.4 to 3m (7.5-9ft) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full Sun preferable Germination 5 to 21 days