Growing Morning Glories and Moonflowers from Seed
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…
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!
So 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.
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” ( ).
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.
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.
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!