Common Morning Glory/Ipomoea Purpuraea
This pretty twining plant is a perennial from tropical America, which is treated as an annual in the UK: house-plants in bloom are available for much of the year, but this plant is easily grown from seed and can be used in a conservatory or in pots outside on a sheltered patio. The blooms last for just one day, and healthy plants will keep flowering for around eight weeks. The Common Morning Glory is available in a range of colours – from the less-usual white and pink to blues and purples, dependent on the cultivar – and the trumpet-shaped flowers appear among heart-shaped foliage. As the soft, hairy stems are rather lax. The plant needs a support of some sort. The poisonous seed should be handled and stored with care.
Provide this plant with a minimum temperature of — 16°C (61°F), but aim for an optimum of around 21°C (70°F). Seed needs 24°C (75°F) for germination.
Grow this plant in full sun: plants indoors in mid Summer will do better if given light shading. Plants outside need to be positioned out of the wind, which will damage the delicate flowers and shred the leaves.
Keep thebarely moist at all times: plants in bloom outside their natural flowering period (July-September) should be watered very carefully, as the growing temperatures and light levels in the home may limit the amount of growth the plant makes. Such plants will need only small amounts of water. Summer-grown plants in containers outdoors will need lots of water.
Plants in warm, dry-aired conditions require extra humidity. Mist in the morning with tepid water, but not the flowers: water droplets on the leaves, combined with direct sunlight, can result in leaf scorch. Feed this Ipomoea every month with half-strength houseplant food: begin feeding from when the plant is 10cm (4in) tall. Ailing plants may be given a boost with a foliar feed when the plant is misted.
As a perennial plant which is treated as an annual, and as a plant which flowers well in its first year from seed, the Common Morning Glory is discarded once the flowering period is over. Plants from seed should be grown in a proprietary compost. For seed-raised stock, first nick the hard seed coat, then pre-soak the seed in warm water for 12 hours: this will speed germination, which can be patchy. Sow six seeds in each pot, then thin to two or three once they are 5cm (2in) tall. Seed sown in April will flower from July to September. In pots outside, use three or four plants for a good show.
A lack of flowers may result from the plant receiving too little light.
Aphids and other sap-sucking pests will be attracted by soft growth on out-of-season indoor plants: control these at the earliest opportunity using a suitable insecticide.