Growing Morning Glories & Moonflowers from Seed – Part One

Growing Morning Glories and Moonflowers from Seed
Part One

Howdy folks!  I was waiting to do this until something I ordered came in, but that order was delayed, so we’re starting with what we have. According to the seed packets, in this area of Texas, we can plant morning glory seeds from March through June and start them even earlier indoors if we prefer. 


Sad Seedling Story

In mid-February, when the gardening bug hit me, I bought a small truckload of seeds, including many different kinds of morning glories.  I also purchased moonflower, tomato, and jalapeno seeds along with some bulbs.  Growing morning glories is what I was most excited about. Organized all of my seeds in neat little plastic canisters, scrap-booked my seed packets, and started planting.

I watered, and I waited.  The moonflower seeds germinated and started growing VERY quickly.  But the morning glory seeds… Well, I thought… Most seeds don’t germinate that fast anyway, and it’s really kinda early in the season…

First Tomato
My first tomato – Little mutant, W. C. Fields lookin’ thing.

In contrast, my sunflowers burst out of their seeds literally overnight.  Still no morning glory sprouts.  The tomato seeds germinated.  Still nothing.  Herbs, bulbs, everything else started taking on life, but my morning glory seeds continued to be stubborn.   In the interest of full disclosure, all of my sunflowers got eaten before they could get any traction. Also, though my tomato seeds were starting to thrive, I went ahead and bought an already growing plant to facilitate having some tomatoes to harvest this year. Still, the morning glories lay dormant.



Eureka! I’m an idjit!

Bobby Singer - IdjitSo I did the research I should have done before planting morning glories. In fact, this information was right there on the seed packets, but I ignored it.  **Nick the seeds and soak them in water overnight for faster germination** It was right there all along, but I didn’t do it. Just skipped past this crucial step in the process and the results were predictably underwhelming. 

I started over.  This time, I took four seeds out of each container, nicked a corner off of each one, and dropped all of them together in a Thermos full of warm water.  24 hours later, most of them had sprouted.  One very simple step had stood between me and success with my morning glories. 

Instead of going the peat pellet route, I planted the sprouted seedlings directly into the garden, just below the surface.  I did not keep track of which varieties I was planting where.  Just tried to spread them out.  I watered them carefully, and I saw results very quickly, but I had another problem.


Doggone Pests!

We have a metric ton of snails and slugs around here, plus caterpillars and stink bugs.  Before my little morning glory seedlings could get much traction, most of them were destroyed by caterpillars, snails, and slugs. While checking my garden daily, I would remove any I saw on the leaves and stems.  I hate to kill anything if I don’t have to.  The stink bugs were more interested in the leaves of my strawberries, bluebonnets, and roses.  I don’t like them, but I did not mess with them.

I could have ensured more success for myself if I had planned for pests a little better, too.  Live and learn and plant some more – that’s what everyday home gardening (and life) is all about. Thankfully, not all of the morning glories were devoured by the irritating little pests.  Several survived and are thriving, but so far, the survivors belong to only one variety: beautiful, purple “Grandpa Ott” (Ipomoea purpurea). 

I have some incredibly beautiful morning glory varieties to plant, so this time, we’re going to A) Follow directions. And B) Give the sprouts enough time to grow outside of the garden so that when we transplant them, they will be strong enough to withstand our local pests. My moonflower seedlings grew nicely in their little peat pellets, so after they got two to four leaves, I planted them and watched them get systematically devoured by the same little pests. 


Growing Morning Glories IV: A New Hope

With everyday home gardening, experimentation is easy, fun, and often fruitful, so that’s what we’re going to do while growing morning glories and moonflowers.  First, we’re going to follow the directions to soak the nicked seeds in water overnight. Once they have germinated, we will plant them in peat pellets, tenderly tend them, keep them safe from predators, and patiently wait until they have established themselves enough to support direct garden planting. 

I purchased some food-safe insect repellent for my tomatoes and strawberries that should also work on our morning glories and moonflowers when they get big enough to go garden-side.  If not, I may have to get snail & slug killer, but I’d really prefer not to, if I don’t have to.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.


Seed Organizer

Step One:

I have plenty of open spots for planting morning glories and moonflowers when they are ready, but this time, I will be tracking which varieties are planted in which areas.  I am placing five seeds each from four varieties of morning glory that require nicking and soaking into washed and re-labeled empty medicine bottles. 

You can nick your seeds with scissors or a small knife, but be aware, these seeds are toxic to pets, so make sure you pick up any that drop.  They are small and hard to hang on to.  Make sure you are doing this in an area where you can find them if they try to escape. 

Scroll through the photos below to see demonstration of the nicking process. Seed packet information for the morning glory varieties we will be planting is also included.

Organized Seeds in Containers

Image 1 of 6

Once you have nicked your seeds, place them in the appropriately labeled container, fill about half-way with warm water, and put the lid on so they can soak overnight. We’ll hopefully move on to Step Two tomorrow after we see how well our seeds sprouted.  In Growing Morning Glories & Moonflowers from Seed – Part Two, we’ll talk about how to use peat pellet pods and peat pots. We’ll also plant our (hopefully) sprouted morning glory seeds along with a few others that do not require nicking and soaking. 

Til then, take care, and stay healthy and safe!
Bunny & Greg
The Grey Gnome

NOTE: In the time it took me to write this post after nicking and soaking the seeds, I can already see sprouting activity!

Growing Morning Glories & Moonflowers from Seed – Part 2
Growing Morning Glories & Moonflowers from Seed – Part 3
Growing Morning Glories & Moonflowers from Seed – Part 4

12 thoughts on “Growing Morning Glories & Moonflowers from Seed – Part One”

  1. Reading your post was the first time I heard of nicking seeds, but it certainly seems to work when it comes to the speed at which the seeds sprout.

    Morning glories are beautiful, and very plentiful where I live, so I thought they just grew like weeds. It seems in some parts of the world it is a little more difficult to grow them. So you say its best to plant them in spring? I would like to try with a few other colors, as we only have the purple ones in our garden.

    • Hi Michel, and thank you for visiting the Garden! 

      You can start them indoors in late winter to give them a good head start for spring.  If you have a place to plant them outside – like a hanging basket – where they won’t be as accessible to pests, you can nick them, soak them, and plant them directly into the basket.  They make beautiful trailing vines full of flowers in hanging baskets! This would also be a good way to add color to your garden, as you could plant several different colors in the same basket.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.  Happy Planting!

  2. Hello there! this is an amazing review you have got here. its very helpful and I’m sure it will help other garners as it as helped me because it’s rare to see articles that can explain the process as you have just done here. Great job!

    I will try and practice those steps you have given. Thank you very much sharing.

  3. Thanks for this article. Really this is my first time of hearing about the Morning Glories and Moonflowers. This sounds so fantastic. Your passion and patience in trying again through researching is encouraging and refreshing. Thank God you succeeded at last. How do one actually get the seeds? And what do the leave serve for? Are they herbs?

    • Howdy, alkaline0127!  Thanks for stopping by the Garden! 

      Seeds for morning glories and moonflowers can be purchased at any local nursery or garden center.  Once your moonflowers mature, they will drop big pods full of seeds.  I have heard of people using the leaves and stems for food, but I don’t have any experience with that.  The seeds can make you very sick, so definitely do not ingest!

  4. Your article is unique, like a father talking to a small boy. I read your article like reading your beautiful family stories. In my memory, morning glory can grow by itself quickly. Look like is your kindness allow small little thing to live in your garden. Edible gardening should get rid of all these little things from the garden. Why your article becomes a beautiful story is because of your kindness treating the small little things as if you are respecting the eco-system to accept it as life. I like your attitude looking at nature and experience, and wholeheartedly agreed with experience can find itself for surviving. Remember your word use only food-safe repelled and not poison. It is quite enjoyable to read your article. Thank you

  5. This was a very interesting post. Where I live, one variety of Morning Glory grows wild. How long does it take for the seed to get mature enough to plant in the ground? Also you mentioned growing Moonflowers which I have not heard of. Do you have a photo of them. Is there a certain temperature for the water that you place the seeds in when sprouting? You only said warm. You gave  very good step by steps of what to do and how to do it process in growing your garden from seeds. You even mentioned what you did wrong in the beginning, which I found to be useful to a first time gardener.

    • Hi Charlotte, and thank you for visiting the Garden! 

      I will be posting more about when to transplant soon, but generally, once they get to be about six to eight inches in height, they will be looking for something to wrap around, and you’ll be wanting to transplant them then.  I am about to post an article on an alternative (but still experimental) method for doing this in my attempts to thwart my native pests. 

      I do not yet have any photos of the moonflowers – the pests devoured every one I planted before they could develop more than four leaves.  There are many beautiful pictures on the internet, however, of these big, beautiful white and purple flowering vines, and I will certainly post some when I get mine going!

      I don’t recommend any specific temperature for the water you sprout the seeds in – just warm to the touch, but not hot. It will cool down fairly quickly anyway, and the seeds will soak over night in room-temperature water for the most part, so starting temperature is not critical.  For a baseline maybe, 95-105 degrees – around body temperature is fine.

      Thank you Charlotte!

      Bunny & Greg

  6. I love morning glory but I am a bit impatient to grow many seeds. Although I must admit that I had never heard of nicking  them. Do you know how long they take to grow into something substantial from seed?

    Your website looks great and I must admit has me feeling a bit envious. We purposely bought a house with a reasonably small garden. Probably not by most gardening standards, but definitely by mine. The good thing about moonflowers and morning glory is that they are verticle so they take up a lot less room than most plants. I will try growing some along my fence in the spring (it’s autumn here at the moment), and I will try to grow them from seed because I don’t think you can by  them as plants easily, or inexpensively.  I’m pretty sure they are frost tender aren’t they and annuals?

    • Hi Deb!  Welcome to the Garden!

      I understand the impatience!  I have been growing herbs from seed this year and have just the tiniest bit of movement week by week, so I bought a couple of rosemary plants, and I am rooting some leftover thyme that I got from the grocery store for a pot roast.  Something that grows really quickly from seed is cilantro. If you use that in your cooking, it’s a very satisfying herb to grow and not picky about soil conditions. 

      The original morning glory seeds I nicked, soaked, and planted showed quick growth, but they struggled some due to our local pests, snails and slugs.  I would say it took about a month and a half to two months before they started flowering, but I get flowers nearly every day now.  I found a new variety blooming today that I had not seen because it was under my roses.  Your morning glories will love your fence, and vice versa, I’m sure! 

      Yes, they are not something you want to plant outdoors until all threat of frost is gone.  They can get a good start indoors, though, and I love seeing who has sprouted and how much they grow every day!  Part 3 of the growing guide should go up later today, so be sure to check out my new pictures!  I think more than half of the morning glories have sprouted and grown several inches.  My moonflowers are still being shy, but once they germinate, they catch up quick!

      My husband spent some time in Australia and Tasmania when he was in the Navy back in the late 80’s.  I would like to visit there myself someday.  It’s on my “Bucket List” as they say.

      Thank you so much for your comments, today, Deb!  Take care, and best of luck with your garden!  If I can ever be of any help to you, please let me know!


  7. hello benny,

    awesome review made on  on how to grow morning glories and moonflowers from seeds, it’s actually my first time getting to hear that one can actually grow this beautiful  seed means, I just completed my garden few days back and I’ve been anticipating on getting nice Roses to plant on it I guess this morning glory and Moonflowers will be perfect for my garden I really in Need the seedlings so I hope I could get them..

    thanks for sharing, I look forward to sharing as well

  8. Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful piece of information here with us. I must say i really did enjoyed going through your article. Morning glories are beautiful, and very plentiful where I live, so I thought they just grew like weeds. It seems in some parts of the world it is a little more difficult to grow them. I would like to try with a few other colors, as we only have the purple ones in our garden. Thanks for sharing this


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