Types of morning glory

Morning Glory Vines: Favorite Varieties

Most of my favorite flowering vines are in the plant family Ipomoea. The most common member of this family is the morning glory, though there are about 300 more plants, including the sweet potato, and many of them are twining climbers.

It will be a jungle out there when my vines grow up! The morning glory can grow to be ten feet tall or more in a season, which made it a popular privy plant in the old days when it was often used to camouflage the outhouse.

As its name suggests, the flowers open in the morning and gradually fade during the afternoon. They will wrap their vines around anything—wood, wire, string, and even each other.

Fittingly, in the language of flowers, they represent bonds and attachments.

I love the heart-shaped leaves and sky blue flowers of ‘Clarke’s Heavenly Blue’ but the flowers do come in other colors.

Rich, wine-red ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ has a pure white throat.

‘Kniola’s Black Knight’ is a deep purple with a hot pink throat and ‘Flying Saucers’ are silvery white streaked with blue. There are double-flowering forms like ‘Sunrise Serenade’ which makes up for the fact that it needs help climbing (you have to tie it to its support) by having large, ruffled, red blossoms that stay open longer than single flowering varieties do.

My favorite is ‘Grandpa Ott’s’. It is a vigorous climber that has dark blue flowers with a red star in the throat. It is the heirloom plant that gave Seed Savers Exchange its start.

A few other Ipomoeas you may want to try include:

  • Moonflower looks like a large white morning glory but its flowers open at night making it the perfect plant for a moon garden.
  • Cardinal Climber has interesting, deeply cut foliage and its flowers are bright red, tubular-shaped trumpets. Hummingbirds can’t resist it!
  • Cypress Vine is very similar to cardinal climber bearing the same red tubular flowers but its leaves are more finely cut and fern-like.
  • Spanish Flag bears racemes of small tubular flowers that start out bright red, turn orange when mature and then fade to yellow and finally turn white. There can be hundreds of these blossoms, all at different stages of growth and colors, at the same time on a single plant. They really do look like tiny flags.

All Ipomoeas prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil and tolerate drought. No need to fertilize them, in fact overly fertile soil will promote lush leaf growth instead of flowers. Soak the seeds overnight before planting to soften the seed coat and speed germination.

Flowering vines are fast growers and will cover an unsightly spot in your yard in no time.They are charming when grown on a trellis or twined around the railings of your sunny porch or deck. They can be trained to form a living fence or privacy screen, provide shade, or just add a wall of color. As an architectural element, they lend a new dimension to any garden. Time to think about growing up!

Read more about growing this vine on our Morning Glory Plant page.

Family Convolvulaceae—The Morning -glory Family

The Convolvulaceae consists of twining herbs, trees and shrubs. The family is made up of about 50 genera and between 1400-1650 species. Because of its variability the family is a little messy to deal with. Most of the trees and shrubs don’t occur in North America and are therefore of little interest to North American beekeepers. In North America the family consists of mostly annual and perennial, often twining herbs that often have milky sap.

The leaves are generally simple (rarely compound)1 and are alternately placed (not placed opposite each other on their stem) and are generally without or have only small stipules.2

The flowers are bisexual (have both stamens and pistils), are twisted in their buds, and radially symmetrical3 and usually shaped like a funnel (funnelform), usually made up of 5 parts (5-merous) as for example 5 largely united petals, and 5 sepals (parts that originally covered the bud). The petals and sepals are attached below the ovary (i.e. the ovary is superior to these floral parts). There are usually five stamens that are attached to the petals and alternate with the lobes of the flower. The female parts of the flower (pistil and ovary) usually consist of two but sometimes 3-5 united carpels4 with the immature seeds developing along the central axis of the ovary (axile placentation). There can be one or two complete styles, or the style may be split into two partial styles. Where there is only one pistil, there are frequently 2 stigmas (where the pollen is deposited).

The fruit is a capsule, berry or nut.5 If you recognize a morning glory, you will most likely be able to recognize much of this family.

Nine genera are native to the U.S. The family’s importance resides in the sweet potato, several ornamentals and several weeds, some of these quite serious.

Smith, J. P. 1977. Vascular Plant Families, Mad River Press Inc. Eureka, California.

Scientific name: Convolvulus arvensis

Synonyms: Convolvulus ambigens, Convolvulus incanus

Origin: Convolvulus arvensis was introduced from Europe into New England in 1739 and had spread to California by 1900. The first Canadian report was made from Ontario in 1879, and by the 1890’s the plant had spread to western Canada. This is an important weed. It can reduce crop yields by 50% and once established, it is very difficult to control. The plants can survive -10o C (14oF) and its roots have been known to grow 9m (~29.5 ft) deep. A severe infestation can produce over 800 kg (~1764 lbs) of seed per acre.

Plant description: Field bindweed is an aggressive perennial and in extensive infestations the 2-7 ft (~0.6-2.1 m) long vines twine and spread over the ground, forming tangled mats or climbs on existing supports.

The leaves are placed alternately on the vine and are quite variable in shape, varying from nearly round except for two basal lobes, to the more common triangular to oblong shape, 1-6 cm (~0.39-2.36 in ) long and 3 cm (~ 1.2 in) wide, usually with two basal lobes. The unattached leaf end ranges from pointed to rounded. Except for the basal lobes, the leaf edges are smooth without teeth or other indentations.

The flower stems arise from the angle between a leaf and the …

Flower of Convolvulus arvensis (Field bindweed), Photo taken in the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden on the Michigan State University Campus in the Economic Weeds III. Persisting Weeds Collection on 8/7/2015.

Plant Database

Reveal, James L.

Ipomoea leptophylla

Ipomoea leptophylla Torr.

Convolvulaceae (Morning-Glory Family)

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Several stems arch as they lengthen, forming a bushy clump 1 1/2-3 ft. tall. Large, lavender, funnel-shaped flowers with darker throats, occur on stalks from the axils of delicate, linear leaves. Smooth, erect, leafy stems, sometimes leaning on ground at base, forming a large roundish plant bearing flowers with pinkish-lavender or purplish-red, funnel-shaped corollas with darker centers in upper leaf axils.

This beautiful wildflower is representative of several species of Ipomoea that, unlike garden morning glories, are not vines.

From the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers 3 inches
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: CO , KS , MT , NE , NM , OK , SD , TX , WY
Native Distribution: SD to CO & s.c. MT, s. to OK & NM
Native Habitat: Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannas, Roadsides, Dunes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Sandy or gravelly soils.
Conditions Comments: Tuber makes plant drought-tolerant but difficult to transplant.


Use Ornamental: Perennial garden
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Seed
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Seed Network – Corvallis, OR


Bibref 318 – Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Ipomoea leptophylla in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ipomoea leptophylla in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ipomoea leptophylla


Record Modified: 2018-08-30
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back

The State We’re In

Jul 18, 2019

Anyone who’s planted “garden variety” morning glories knows how easily they grow. These showy annuals climb like crazy and produce lots of seeds. New plants pop up year after year and are almost unstoppable!

But that’s not the case with the delicate perennial known as Pickering’s morning glory, one of New Jersey’s rarest and most endangered plants.

These petite and lovely wildflowers grow on sunny sand dunes in the Pine Barrens, their long vines trailing along the ground. The star-shaped white flowers bloom in early summer.

For years, Pickering’s morning glories have been close to extinction in New Jersey. But now they’re getting much-needed help from the state, nonprofit conservation groups, and a cadre of volunteers.

Even when first discovered in the late 1800s, Pickering’s morning glories were rare. Only about 25 populations were documented throughout the entire Pine Barrens, a region covering roughly a million acres.

Since then, many historic populations were damaged – or completely wiped out. Some were lost to forest shading when a lack of wildfires allowed trees to grow on sand dunes. Others were destroyed by illegal off-road vehicles, as thrill-seeking riders tore across dunes and vegetation. Some declined when their habitats were covered by development. Illegal dumping of construction debris and competition from alien invasive Chinese bush clovers also took a toll.

Today, only three healthy and stable populations remain in New Jersey, with another dozen just hanging on. But there’s still hope!

Just this year, New Jersey’s Office of Natural Lands Management increased their efforts to help Pickering’s morning glories and several other rare plants. Bob Cartica, program administrator, said his office is working on a five-year recovery plan for Pickering’s morning glories.

“It’s very important that we maintain the occurrences of the species in the state,” said Cartica, noting that Pickering’s morning glory is primarily a southern species. “It occurs in New Jersey – and North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama – and not in between.”

Initially, the state is focusing on four populations in Wharton State Forest. “We’re trying to foster conditions that will protect and enhance these occurrences,” he explained. Measures include building barriers to stop off-road vehicles, and removing invasive plants, debris and litter, and shade-casting trees.

A stewardship project spearheaded by Duke Farms in Somerset County is also helping. Two summers ago, Pickering’s morning glory seeds were collected in the wild, and the staff at Duke Farms developed a technique for germinating the seeds and nurturing the hard-to-grow plants in a greenhouse.

Last fall, 44 tiny plants were transplanted from the Duke Farms greenhouse into a fenced experimental plot at New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Franklin Parker Preserve in the Pine Barrens. “Thirty-two survived the winter and are growing quite nicely,” reports Dr. Emile DeVito, staff biologist at New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

Duke Farms is continuing to germinate and grow new plants, and dozens will be ready for transplant this fall.

Warm, wet weather also seems to be providing favorable conditions for Pickering’s morning glories. After three consecutive rainier-than-usual years, said Emile, new plants are sprouting on their own at historic locations where populations had been struggling.

“It’s like the event we’ve been waiting for,” he said. “We think the seeds were there in the soil, just waiting for the perfect conditions. It’s providing an excellent chance for these populations to rebound.”

Bob Cartica agreed: “Their seeds can be viable for a very long time, maybe decades.”

Now that new Pickering’s morning glory seedlings are appearing, the nonprofit Pinelands Preservation Alliance is assisting by coordinating a census of all known populations.

With luck and some human help, these rare wildflowers may eventually return to historic levels in New Jersey. Kudos to all who are helping!

To learn more about the Pine Barrens and the challenges in protecting rare plants, visit the Pinelands Preservation Alliance website at www.pinelandsalliance.org.

To learn more about the state’s rare plant species, visit the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection website at https://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/natural/heritage/.

And for more information about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at [email protected]

Morning glory leaves can look lush and inviting even without the flowers being in bloom. These plants are so easy to grow, and they multiply so well that in some places they are considered an invasive weed, while more stunning varieties are highly coveted plants.

Blooming in the morning – hence their name – morning glories can come in a rainbow of colors, and it is not only the flowers I am talking about, but there is some variety in the leaves as well.

Because of its fast-growing abilities and its ability to completely cover fences and walls, this plant was used in the early days when America was still being settled in order to help hide the unsightly outhouse.

Morning glories come in perennial and annual varieties, but even the annual plants willingly re-seed their area for the next year. You can plant the seeds directly outside as soon as any danger of frost is over, or you can start them indoors 4-6 weeks sooner and get a head start on the season.

Either way, it is best to soak the seeds overnight first to achieve the maximum germination.

Morning Glory Leaves: Problems and Pests

Though mostly care-free and healthy no matter where it is planted, that doesn’t mean that this plant never has problems. No matter what causes yellow leaves on morning glories, it is always a sign that something is wrong with your plant. Sometimes yellow leaves on your morning glory plant are the first sign you have that something is wrong, but there are a few possible causes for this.

Morning glories love sunlight, so if it is not getting adequate light, this could be a cause of yellow leaves.

Under-watering or over-watering can also hurt the plant and over-watering especially can keep the area moist enough to provide a breeding ground for funguses that can attack your plant.

If the leaves on your morning glory look yellow and are powdery on the backside, then your plant has likely been infected with fungal rust, and you should remove all the infected leaves and try to avoid getting the leaves wet at all when you water.

A disease that can also affect morning glory leaves is called canker. It shows itself by turning the stems brown and giving them a sunken in appearance, finally moving to the leaves and causing them to turn brown and wilt.

Other pests include leaf miners, caterpillars, and certain aphids but these are easy to take care of on a healthy plant and buying an organic pest control.

Can You Eat Morning Glory Leaves?

Eating morning glory leaves is a matter of much debate across the web. Those who say it is edible claim its connection to water spinach which is from the same family. In fact, the two names are often interchangeable in Asian recipes which include the ingredient “morning glory leaves” both cooked and raw.

However, the Asian ‘morning glory’ leaves are not climbers, have long and thin leaves with hollow stems, and are even categorized as aquatic plants because they grow with lots of water in swampy areas. Also called a swamp cabbage, the Asian morning glory is still a part of the morning glory family, as are sweet potatoes and other vegetables.

So you see, eating morning glory leaves that are grown in America can be a completely different thing. The American morning glory that comes to mind when we think of the name is a climber with heart-shaped leaves and lots of trumpet-shaped flowers, not a plant that looks more similar to spinach with narrower leaves. Certain kinds of American morning glories have a sap that is rich alkaloids that are toxic.

These toxins can cause an upset stomach as well as tremors, anorexia, and ataxia in pets. In people, it can cause hallucinations, migraines, dizziness, and, in extreme cases, even death. One case involving a girl who swallowed some seeds ended up with that girl having to be taken to the emergency room, so if you think that you or your child has accidentally eaten this plant, it is best to contact Poison Control.

Can You Smoke Morning Glory Leaves?

While it is discussed on forums whether or not you can smoke morning glory leaves for its psychedelic properties, the fact is that by doing so you will undoubtedly have nausea and vomiting.

Though some say the seeds supposedly give better effects, there are other side effects you might want to consider. Some of these include muscle rigidity, paranoia, and an elevated heart rate.

Some people are allergic to the plant and can react so severely that they have to be rushed to the hospital. Others can develop an allergy to the plant over a long time while a few quickly develop an allergy after only a couple of uses. All in all, if you are determined to get high without getting an illegal drug, it is possible to do with morning glories leaves or seeds.

  • Author
  • Recent Posts

Sarah Byrd

Sarah Byrd has written about gardening for both online and print publications. She completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.

Latest posts by Sarah Byrd (see all)

  • Soda Blasting Wood and Other Materials: 6 Common Questions – November 11, 2019
  • 5 Steep Driveway Solutions – November 7, 2019
  • How to Remove Silicone Caulk from Fibreglass Shower Stalls? – October 16, 2019

Morning Glory Plant Family: Learn About Morning Glory Varieties

For many people, the summer garden always includes a tumble of shiny green leaves and sky blue flowers growing on a fence or up the side of a porch. Morning glories are old-fashioned crowd-pleasers, simple to grow and tough enough to grow in almost any environment. The classic Heavenly Blue morning glory flowers aren’t the only types that grow, however. Let’s learn more about some common morning glory varieties.

Morning Glory Plant Family

Morning glories are members of the Convolvulaceae family, which takes on a number of forms, depending on the part of the world in which it developed. There are over 1,000 types of morning glory flowers, from colorful climbers to subtle ground covers. From cheerful flowers to edible plants, how many morning glory relatives do you know? Here are some of the most common morning glory varieties.

  • The most familiar of the morning glories for the garden is probably the domestic morning glory vine. This climber has dark and shiny heart-shaped leaves and trumpet-shaped vines that open first thing in the morning, hence the name. The blooms come in a variety of colors from shades of blue to pinks and purples.
  • Moonflowers, a cousin of the domestic morning glory, has hand-sized brilliant white flowers that open when the sun goes down and blooms all night long. These morning glory flowers make great additions to moon gardens.
  • Bindweed is a morning glory relative that is a problem with many farms and gardens. The woody stems twine themselves among other plants, strangling out its competitors. A version of this type of plant, known as a dodder, looks like a miniature version of the domestic morning glory flower. Its roots take over everything underground, and one root system can spread up to half a mile.
  • Water spinach is a morning glory relative that’s sold in Asian specialty stores as a tasty vegetable. The long thin stems are topped with arrow-shaped leaves, and the stems are sliced and used in stir fry dishes.
  • One of the most surprising of the morning glory relatives may be another edible plant, the sweet potato. This vine won’t spread nearly as far as most of its relatives, but the large roots below the ground are a variation that is grown all over the country.

Note: Native Americans in the Southwest used rare varieties of morning glory seeds in their spiritual life as a hallucinogenic. The difference between a lethal dose and one designed to send someone to the spirit world is so close, only the most knowledgeable of people are ever allowed to try the experience.

Morning Glory

Morning glories are summer-growing perennial and annual plants commonly grown for their colorful funnel-shaped flowers. Morning glories become weedy when they are allowed to twine around other plants and objects and when allowed to re-seed and grow uncontrolled.

Description and Life Cycle:

  • Stems are 3 to 13 feet long; twine around other plants and objects.
  • Stem may be slightly hairy.
  • Heart-shaped leaves alternate on stem; smooth margins and obvious veins from midrib; leaves are 3-4 inches long and up to 3 inches wide at the base.
  • Flowers on long petioles are blue, purple, red, white, or variegated; flowers grow in groups of three to five flowers.
  • Blooms mid- to late summer.
  • Readily reproduces by seed. Seeds are brown, three-sided, and very hard; germination is increased by burying seed in the ground. Seeds are viable for 10 to 15 years.

Root System: Morning glory roots can grow to a depth of 20 feet. Plant have numerous lateral roots growing at a depth of 1 to 2 feet that can send up shoots that develop into new plants. It is not uncommon for new plants to grow around the edges of established plants. Even a small piece of dormant root transplanted into moist soil can grow a new plant.

Organic Control:

  • Hand pull seedlings as soon as they sprout.
  • Hand pull or hoe shoots and all of roots; cultivation can slow but likely not stop new plants from growing.
  • Mulch to prevent seeds from germinating.
  • Use landscape fabric, cardboard, or black plastic to deprive plants of sunlight. Complete death of plant under mulch will take 3 to 5 years.

Range: Throughout the eastern half of the United States and Pacific Coast region.

Botanical Name: Ipomea purpurea

Four Quick Ways to Control Weeds:

  1. Weed early. Control weeds in the first month after they germinate.
  2. Weed often. Hand weed every two weeks through the season.
  3. Weed by hand when the soil is wet (best to get roots).
  4. Use a hoe if the soil is dry. Decapitate weeds before they flower and drop seed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *