Ipomoea Tricolor: Growing Great Grannyvines

Ed Wike
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Overview

Ipomoea tricolor is more commonly known by its name “Morning Glory”, and includes the beautiful varieties “I. tricolor ” and “I. hederacea”.

The vines often have large, three-colored blooms (to further confuse things, the flower common name is “Granny”, though it’s not a Granny Smith Apple). The most common color combinations are blue and purple, white and pink, and white and red. Less common combinations include red and yellow, and some countries love purple and yellow.

These flowers are actually bicolored, and have darker velvety stripes, but the blue, white, pink, and red colors are more prominent to the casual observer.

Morning Glory vines generally bloom from late spring to midsummer, and can have two or even three blooms occurring simultaneously. This adds to the beauty of the plant.

All About Mexican Morning Glory

It is quite easy to produce large numbers of Ipomoea tricolor seeds. Also known as trumpets of Ipomoea, this is a fall-planted, spring-flowering plant that provides showy flowers in red, white, yellow, and orange. The result is spectacular. These plants can grow up to 6 feet tall, and are sold in nurseries in a range of different forms, including trailing types, vine types, and a climbing form.

Caring For Your Grannyvine

Ipomoea tricolor is a fast-growing annual vine also known as Moonflower. This particular plant is easy to overlook as a serious houseplant because of their small size and inefficient climbing ability, but they have become a favorite for indoor gardeners looking for a quick and easy to keep plant for their home that produces beautiful flowers.

These small vines only grow about 10 inches in a season, but for a beginner, this might be plenty. They do need care once they are in your home, but they are quite low-maintenance. As long as you provide good lighting, container material, soil, and plenty of water, your moonflowers will look beautiful all season.

Moonflower vine seeds are small, and they are a mix of black, maroon, and tan in color. They are easy to purchase online or from a nursery. Moonflower is considered an annual, so it will grow from seed to flower and die with the first frost of the season. This is not usually much of a problem with this plant, but some people have had success with overwintering it and growing it indoors all year.

Light & Temperature

As a tropical, tender annual, the Morning Glory won’t fare well in the cold, winter months. It’s best grown as an annual in areas where it will quickly fill the borders with its vining, colorful display. Morning Glories grow best in full sun and are easily blinded by shade and cloudy skies. Morning Glories require well-drained, loose soil areas and with proper soil care, the vines are able to support themselves and last for the season. If the soil is heavy and dry, the vines become limp and struggle. They do not do well in standing water.

Afternoon is the best time to water your plants because the Morning Glory has a shallow root system, and the leaves and vines are sensitive to high moisture. If the soil feels dry to your fingers, just water the plants until the water begins to drip from the bottom of the pot. Too much water will cause the soil to mold, which will, in turn, cause root rot.

If there isn’t a lot of rain in your area, you’ll need to water your plants daily. Make sure to give your plants enough water to get to the bottom of the pot. If you can see water, it isn’t enough.

Water & Humidity

The squash vine borer is one of the most devastating pests in the garden and is almost impossible to control once it infests your garden. To prevent the destruction of your plants, there are a few things you can do. The first thing to do is to plant your squash and eggplant early. To do this you must start the seeds indoors. Try starting the seeds by placing them in a container or a peat pot once you know that you are staying warm enough.

The second thing you can do is to bring out the big guns. Aphids are attracted to the leaves of plants and will start to suck the juices from the leaves. These plants, as we know, attract the squash vine, so you can eliminate two birds with one stone and eliminate the aphids with the help of a ladybug.

The third and most important thing you can do to prevent and eliminate the squash vineborers is to use good mulch. You can do this by using wood chips or hay. When you do this you will prevent the caterpillars from laying their eggs into the ground.

Soil

Start with a light potting soil. Don’t use garden or potting soils that contain fertilizer. Grannyvines grow best when they do not receive any fertilizer, and the nutrients in commonly used garden soils can burn the plants.

Select a location that receives full sunlight. The plants grow slowly, and need at least 6 hours sunlight a day. They do not have any harvest period. They grow continuously throughout the warm season, and die back during the winter months.

Space the ipomoeas about two feet apart, in an empty area. You need to make sure you have room for the vines to spread. If you are planting them near other plants, be aware they can grow as high as six feet.

Once the vines are established, add mulch to the area where they are growing. Ipomoea vines grow best in a compost rich soil, and the organic material in mulch will help enrich the soil.

Keep the weeds controlled. Granny violets grow best in an area that is weed free. The smaller vines are very susceptible to pest attacks in their early life stages, and weeds can compete for nutrients the plants need to develop a healthy root structure.

Water as needed. The plants need to be well watered, but they prefer dry conditions. Watering the plants on a schedule of once a week, is sufficient.

Fertilizer

There are many people who are completely at a loss when it comes to growing Grannyvines appropriately. It takes a bit of trial and error to find out what works if you aren’t familiar with the plants. Luckily, this isn’t exactly rocket science.

In order to start growing these plants, you should try avoiding fertilizers that are too potent. It’s very easy to over-fertilize these plants if you are used to fertilizing other plants. These plants are very tolerant of strong fertilizers, however they do best with fertilizers that are not powerful.

If you are thinking about using insecticides, you might want to reconsider.

This plant is incredibly attractive to insects. You won’t need insecticides to get bugs. They seek it out on their own. So fertilizers don’t need to be powerful for this flower.

Now that you have an understanding of these plants, you can grow them successfully.

Propagation

Growing Grannyvines(1) are extremely easy, and if you are growing indoors, they are the perfect indoor plant to fill that dark corner. I have a dark corner in my front hall where there is a drain next to the door. Hence, no other plants will grow there. Until I found out that G. Tricolor will grow there. I was looking for a way to make money on the side, I was going to sell my home, and I wanted to do something to make that dark corner more attractive. So I put together a little info package for what I call "Low Light Gardening" and made a sign that I placed in my window: "Low Light Gardening: Grimy Windows, Tired of Hypertufa, Put Your Plants to Sleep". I put a special offer on it that sent people to a website that contained my info and a PayPal account. I took orders for the info package, which I mailed out. Besides a little extra money, it was fun, easy and I got to use a lot of recycled materials that I had on hand.

Pruning & Training

Ipomoea Tricolor, also known as wild sweet potato vine, is known by various common names including Morning Glory, Creeper, Godetia, Wild Potato vine, and many more. This fast growing vine can tolerate partial shade so it's used extensively as a ground cover, climber and border. Because it's vine you can grow Ipomoea Tricolor wherever you have a sturdy trellis or structure to which it can climb. A system of different colored cultivars makes for a lovely display.

One of the distinct advantages of Ipomoea Tricolor over other vines is that it's extremely easy to grow. Ipomoea's simple care makes it a great choice for a first time gardener. You can use it as a ground cover, climbing vine and as a spectacular cascading climber.

Morning Glory Problems

If you don’t water your plant or fertilize it with the appropriate nutrient level, it will not flower. In most cases this is not a problem. In fact, most people have no idea how to water or fertilize the plants. But if you are deadset on getting morning glories to flower in the house, there are some things you can do to stimulate flowering.

One way to help your seedlings get over the shock of being moved from outside to inside, is to acclimate your plants to lower temperatures before transplanting them to your growing area. Morning glory flowers will be more likely to bloom indoors if they are moved at night, and then transplanted into sunlight. Try to keep the temperature at 70 degrees or less the first few days in the growing area and then gradually bring the temperature back to about 70 degrees or so.

For indoor flowers, the most important thing is to ensure that you have the plants in a warm area, and that the air is humid or misted with water. A room that has been heated to 80 degrees, with a few basking lights and house plants that are watered regularly, is a good environment to encourage your morning glories to open all the way and create a great show of flowers.

Growing Problems

The care of "by-the-wind sailor" is not difficult, but you must follow a few simple rules to maximize your harvest. The more your vine is grown in the sun, the less your harvest. So for example, to get only two pounds of seed was enough to plant a whole bed of one hundred plants.

Proper watering is essential: every plant must be watered thoroughly. To encourage the formation of flowers and berries should take the plants in a well-lit and ventilated spot.

It's good to remember that this plant is very vulnerable to wind, especially because it flowers in summer. If it is too strong, the flowers will be completely spoiled. Therefore, it is necessary to protect cups against the wind.

Another problem that could occasionally disturb the harvest is disease. Your anti-fungal treatment will solve the problem very fast. When the plant has grown quite strong and you notice that it has too soft branches, you can prune it back by about a quarter. This procedure is not only aesthetic but also improves the plants. At the end of the season, when the leaves become dry and start to fall, stop watering plants. Remove the remaining leaves and under the vine and throw it away. Leave the plants in the ground.

Pests

All you need to get started is bright light, a pot with good drainage, soil with acidic pH, and some room to grow.

If you want to help the vine climb up a trellis or another structure, plant in a large pot, add a trellis or other structure to the pot, then train the vine up and around it. You'll want to stake the vine periodically when it's just started to climb. These vines can grow extremely long if you let them and they can get tangled and lose their shape if you don't stake them.

They like soil that is neutral to slightly acidic with a low to medium amount of organic matter. The soil should drain well so water quickly moves through the drip line of the plant. During the growing season, be sure to water regularly. Water when the top of the soil feels dry about an inch down. They can be very sensitive to soil that is too dry.

Growing in containers is ideal in the home so that you have control of watering, but they also do well in the ground. In containers, you'll need to prune back the plant in spring before new growth begins. Don't prune back the vines, just the overly long vines you'll be cutting back to allow for new growth.

Diseases

Although Ipomoea tricolor is one of the hardest-working annual vines in the garden, it does put forth a few disease problems. The only disease that is really problematic is mildew.

Mildew is the name given to the powdery white fungus that sometimes appears on the plant. It is a genetic defect due to the way growing conditions were when the plant was a seedling. Typically, a dark, shaded, damp corner of the garden is most often the origin of mildew infections. It is very difficult to get rid of mildew once it infects your plants. What I have found is that keeping the plant as healthy as possible is the best way to control mildew.

A WORD OF CAUTION:

I have recently found a lot of online information about using a flame near the beans of Ipomoea tricolor when the plant is affected with mildew. Apparently, it is fine to blow on the flame if there is just a little mildew. However, if the disease has gotten out of control, what is happening is not the flame killing the mildew spores that are on the plant. What is really happening is that the heat from the flame is causing the plant to burn. I have read that if the plant catches fire, all you have to do is let it burn and the plant will continue to grow, but it sounds like a lot of work to me.

Frequently Asked Questions

While these vines are lovely in flower, they're a bit sassy too! If they aren't handled properly, they'll take your trellis apart rather than grow over it. Follow these tips to get the most from your grannyvines and spend the least on your yard. Grannyvines are a species of morning glory, actually considered a weed in some areas.