Morning glories and other viney things - training them

Claire_W(6)May 15, 2005

Hi all

I've been following with great interest the lovely thread about morning glories; I now have a more specialised question, and that is if my morning glories and hyacinth beans and cardinal climbers are going to want to go up vertically, does anyone have experience of helping them to go sideways? My deck has a fence round it that is about 4 1/2' high, they are just not going to have anywhere to go up after that . . . . I was going to "help" them sideways as they grow towards the top, then imagined they would just "have" to go horizontally . . . .

Any thoughts anyone???

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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

It's funny but with all the stuff I have out there, I also have all kinds of vines (sometimes I forget.... LOL). Cardinal Climbers, Hyacinth Bean vines, Scarlet Runner Beans, Moonflowers, Morning Glories, Honeysuckles, Clematis, Mandevilla, Bougainvillea, Stephanotis, Passifloras, Hoyas... I am even going to try some winter squash this year. Sometimes its wild to see the vines all trying to attach to one another. ;-)

The different vines attach differently. But the ones you mention are twiners so you just have to guide them to the support, which in your case, you may have to create - ie., some wire or string if you don't have thin rails on the deck (an inch or less). Basically you have to go out there every day or so and just position the growing tip to its support in order to help it wrap around the support. Otherwise it'll try to grow vertically until it's too heavy to grow any higher and it'll fall over in a clump.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 2:30PM
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Hi again Jenny
My deck rails are quite large, about 3"; I hadn't thought of that. Right, string etc here I go! But I was wondering, should I let them go vertically and then pinch them out when they get to the top, or try and encourage them from the start to go diagonally thereby giving me more cover. What do you think?

PS just had a look at your page again, you've posted some new pics haven't you? Fabulous!! You've made such a lovely garden up on your balcony! Well done you.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 7:36PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

You can use that clear nylon fishing wire as a support too. I know people have posted that suggestion in the past and in fact, a couple right here on this forum posted pictures showing how they secured the nylon into different patterns (including diagonals) and trained the MGs along it. It looked pretty too! If you wanted to cover the bottom of the rail, you could train them diagonally from the beginning. Only thing is, they tend to do alot of vining before they finally start blooming so the blooms may end up at the top of the rail unless you start running them back down the support again. You could pinch a growing tip and depending on how vigorously they are growing, they should branch.

Thanks for the complements on the pics. Soon as some of my stuff explodes into bloom (potentially this week with the lilacs and weigelas), I'll replace a few showing what they look like this year. My James McFarlane lilac is probably almost 2ft taller than the current picture on the member page (which was taken a couple years ago). It is loaded with soon-to-open blooms this year.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 1:00PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Just as a followup, some of the threads from last year and the year before are still around.

There was a poster here named "Ruggy" who did the fishing line support. He has pictures of how it went here.

There was a related thread here with some interesting ideas of how to do this.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 1:46PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I have heard that you can pinch morning glories right away, when they only have a few sets of leaves, and that will encourage more stems and more bushiness. They are still vines, so they won't actually form a compact, bushy plant, but in your case, since you want them to grow horizontally and not as much vertically, it would proabably be best to pinch them right away and then train them horizontally or diagonally.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 8:10PM
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Jenny thanks for the thread info, I had seen Ruggys pics but not Kellys. I can't use thread to go up from my balcony as I'm at the top, there's no-where to go! I do have some extra trellis that I've put up where I need extra privacy, so will let the vines romp away on those high areas . . . . Sahoyaref what you have mentioned is exactly what I hope will work - I really want to try and get a plane of growth as opposed to Ruggys long strands. Perhaps I should pinch some out and not others, see what they all do!

I certainly am going to spend considerable time and effort to try and get them right. I am going to arrange each and every leaf and twining growth, as many times and with as many bits of string as required! Gardening in a space so much smaller than I'm used to, I'm even contemplating dead heading my trailing lobelia, using tiny scissors to cut off individual teeny dead flowers, just to be able to spend enough time pottering about out there! (Picture link there showing some of the stuff I usually have happening at this time of year, where my home is in south-west Ireland).

So hopefully pinching out, fishing line going from what supports I can find, plus TLC and attention, will achieve the desired effect.

Many thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 9:34PM
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Hi, Claire

At first I was kind of chuckling about you looking for things to do in order to spend enough time out there. And then I remembered, early last August, it wasn't enough for me just to sit out there and sip iced tea; I needed things to DO :-D So I started ordering seeds and perennials for fall delivery like mad. I am afraid the trellis I planned for my MGs is too thick, so I may be with you in training every tendril and leaf. Just wondering what I will do when it gets beyond my reach :-D

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 12:34PM
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ruggy(Zone 10)

Did I hear my name? LOL Howdy fellow gardeners!

I'm not repeating the fishing line trellis this year, at least not so far... things could change on a daily basis... LOL it was lovely and gave a nice cozy feeling the balcony, but it was a bear to clean up and I broke some of the strings during that process...

So this year I've put chicken wire up along the smaller balcony and planted boxes of morning glories under that... kind of an experiment... I'm not sure how the MG's are going to react, but I guess I'll find out! I'm hoping they fill in and make a fairly solid wall of vegation...

And I just might have maintainence install some new hooks on that balcony so that I can put some fishing line up for some height before it's all over with :0)

It's good to be back to gardening!!!!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 7:32PM
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Thats the trouble with a small garden area Meg isnÂt it? You start looking around for more stuff to do! We will have to compare notes on how our MGs do on their too-wide trellises! And IÂll keep you posted on my dead-heading  IÂve already decided that if needs be I will actually dead-head the trailing lobelia one little teeny tiny flower at a time, just to get the required therapeutic dose of tending!

So Ruggy you are having a change this year . . . . thatÂs a shame  I thought your diamond shapes were really good. As for taking them down, naughty from a recycling point of view but I think I would have just cut the lot down string and all! But chicken wire is a great substance, from the sound of other posts your MGs will like that. Though it seems funny to think of chicken wire 10 floors up in an apartment building, I always see it as such an agricultural item!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 7:52PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Hey Ruggy - good to see you again! :-D Yeah, your hard work last year became famous. LOL

The chicken wire sounds like an interesting idea - for any vine in fact. Seems like that would also be really good for those who have partitions between balconies and who need/want to run vines up against those.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 6:18AM
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ruggy(Zone 10)

It was quite upsetting when the fishing line broke, I was looking forward to using it again... unfortunately, the memory of standing on a step-ladder trying to get the fishing line through the hooks dozens of times way up on the 10th floor is a little too fresh in my mind to redo it just yet (fear of heights here)... maybe next year I'll get brave again... LOL

I'm very happy to hear that the chicken wire has promise!!! The new MG's are only about a week old, but that's a good time for the first pics... LOL So there's the setup as it is right now on this posting...

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 7:51PM
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Hey Ruggy, your chicken wire looks very good. Very neat job! You know I'm sure you could make a gadget to get the fishing line up to the hooks, if you did want to put some more up, you could use a long stick with a nail in the end at right angles and hold the fishing line up with that and just hook it over. You'd have to hold the line taut but I think it would work . . . you might have to if your MGs want to go up up up!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 8:32PM
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That's exactly what I did last year. I didn't like it because the flowers got squished in the chicken wire. I took it out this year in favor of a trellis and string . I'll let you know how it works out. That is, if my MGs don't drown. LOL

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 12:21AM
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I'm so glad I found this thread. You guys have inspired me to check out morning glories. I can't believe how quickly they grow. Right now, I have a pot of potato vines. Ruggy, wow! I've thought about chicken wire several times. Thanks for the pics!


    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 3:18PM
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I have a pretty wire trellis and I attached string in between the upright wires. I think it'll work better than the chicken wire. But like you all, I'm experimenting. BTW, this is a self-watering pot.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 1:12AM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

I have wooden railings on my second floor porch deck and I bought some of these plastic hooks w/green ties that you glue to the wood and then train your vines up and tie them. So I have my moonflower vine and grandpa otts trailing up the banister and so far it's working. I'm also growing tomatoes out there, two varietes each in a 5 gallon container. So far the Buck's County Hybrid is taking off like gangbusters and I'm afraid it's going to outgrow my balcony. The other variety I have is Fourth of July and that's not quite as big. I fertilized them about a week ago with Fish and Seaweed Emulsion, which they obviously love because they are getting awfully big! Any of you growing Tomatoes? What do you use to hold them up?


    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 3:31PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

This year I'm growing Cherokee Purple and San Marzano tomatoes. The latter is a determinant I believe so it shouldn't be much of an issue. What I've done in the previous few years is start the 'maters off with a plastic bamboo stake (6ft) and then I would cage them with a configurable 3-panel vegetable fence, which I believe is a little less than 4ft tall. You can surround the container with it in the shape of a triangle or what I did was to surround it in a square pattern where the open side would be against the balcony rail. The panel grid openings are spaced about 6" apart so a branch can go through it and be supported.

Here's what I had last year (Cherokee Purple and Marianna's Peace):

The 2 plants ended up over 7ft tall and I had to add an extension to the stake.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 6:33AM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

Jenny, that's a good idea, I was thinking of using some type of bamboo shoot to support the vines and then just tie them, but I may try it this way. Glad to see I'm not the only person growing inderterminates in a container on my balcony.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 12:01PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Oh yeah. There's alot of folks who grow indeterminants in containers. It's not a problem growing these in containers and no one should have to be restricted to "dwarf" or determinant plants for container growing!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 9:03PM
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Hello All,
I just wanted to add my MG experience as well as ask
some maintenance questions.
I'm doing the fishing line thing with my MG. I first
planted Grandpa Ott- deep purple, and then the light
blue variety, not sure of the name. I planted them
against a stark white wall near my entrance. I nailed
some nails on a piece of wood and tied the fishing line
on that, buried it behind the MG
and then strung them up in a fan shape. The
ends are attachted up on a board at the top
of the wall. ( i'll post pics later).
The first varitey were incredible as they were
growing up the lines, deep purlple flowers
with deep green foliage against a stark white wall.
The second variety is more lush and green with big
light blue flowers. they look good now.
The problem now is that Grandpa Ott keeeps climbing up,
and bottom half looks raggedy and messy. Dead flowers
and leaves turning brown.
How should I maintain the vines so the look good always.
I plan on taking down the whole thing in the fall,
since the house is going to be painted then. So if this
is just the way MO grow I'll leave it be, but can I
do something so they look as good as when they first
started out?


( pics will follow soon )

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 1:07PM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

I have trained my Morning Glory's to go sideways at the top of the railing but using plastic hooks that glue on the wooden railing and then training the vines around the hooks or through them with green ties that come with the hooks. So far it's working out great! I put them up the railing until the get to the top and then I have them going sideways along the banister. I have two varieties of MGs, Moonflowers and Cardinal Climbers all along my banisters.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 12:26PM
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I have a deck and ot a balcony but I have been container gardening for many years. I love it and if I lived in a regular house with a yard I would still container garden. I am trying morning glories this year and so far they are not in bloom. I live in Toronto ontario canada. I am snipping them back and I ran string up the devider between our house and the one next door. this is working but I to have the problem with the leaves thinning out at the bottom.

I was wondering with the trellis if you could put the string on and then put the trellis up. I actually like the idea and might try it next year. That is if my cousin who owns the house has not built the custom trellis she has promised me for the last year. LOL she is using copper tubbing/pipe and the one in the front of the house is really nice and the monrning glories love it. She put copper wire stars in the centre and the MG's are training up it really nice. I only had a few left and put them in there. Glad I did not put in more.

Well this was more of a fallow up them I had planed on. Sorry about that

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 4:16PM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

Abrarage - I'm beginning to have the same problem with my Grandpa Otts MG's. They were beautiful for weeks and now the bottoms of the vines are looking ragid and leaves are turning yellow and falling off. I'm not really sure there's too much that can be done at this stage of the game but I'm not an expert either. I'm still waiting for my Heavenly Blue MGs to bloom and also my Scarlet Cardinal Climber. Oddly enough my Moonflowers have begun to bloom and I thought they would be the last out of all my vines to do anything.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 9:58AM
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Candle_Tree(Kolkata, India)

Hi All!

I've planted a couple of my MG plants in a rectangular pot (about 8 inches deep) and placed it on my bedroom window sunshade. Hope when the plants grows it will cascade down rather than climbing up (no support to do so). The idea is to have a green window with plenty of azure flowers! Really looking forward for this to work.

Candle Tree

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 6:28AM
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squeeziemonkey(z5 Chicago)

The pots in all the pic's seem to be really small... shouldn't plants that have that many vines, leaves, and flowers need a lot more space??

I have a small patio that I want to cover with morning glories but I have always thought they would need more soil and space??

Would a 5 gal pain bucket be enough???

I also want to grow a moon flower vine intertwined with the morning glory (Seperate pots) so would the bucket be enough for that as well???

If I can just train them up some fishing line I could have a spectacular display!

I was thinking of going across horizontaly upto a height that will be pretty but won't allow them to invade my upstairs neighbor's place then use the horizontal strings to support the vertical lines.

Hum...everyone has given me a lot to think about...


    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 10:35PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

squeeizie - I have grown morning glories and moonflowers out of a 6" pot that they were started in. That small pot was propped up on a slighly larger one (about a 3 gallon equivalent flat-back), and they did fine. I have even had volunteers sprout in my astroturf and attempt to grow and vine behind my containers. Often, the stress of being potbound will trigger blooming.

I think if anything, for those of us in temperate areas, these subtropical vines aren't growing long enough to really fill up a big pot with roots before they get hit with a frost or freeze. I've seen the MFs put out a good sized taproot but it didn't fill the 3 gallon with roots before it died back. The one thing in my case that might be a reason is that I don't get full all-day sun. I expect that if I did, the MFs might really produce some roots... But even then, they still end up growing for a relatively short time in colder areas despite their being tender perennials.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 10:17AM
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ruggy(Zone 10)

The year of the giant fishing line trellis project, I grew MG's in a number of 9 inch clay pots, and ended up with a wall of MG's with hundreds of blooms everyday. Last year I did them in 3 foot window boxes, and they loved that too... I think these tricky buggers are happy just about anywhere! Like Jenny, I've seen volunteers EVERYWHERE, including at least a half dozen IN the pond! They've spouted in almost every pot, drip tray, astroturf... very resourceful!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 8:03PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Hey ruggy! Good to see you! I have a bunch of seedling SRBs, HBs, and CCs all ready to go out soon. Have a new honeysuckle and a wisteria. The clematis is way ahead this year in its growth, plus I am certain I'll get another round of MG volunteers in just about every pot on the balcony (LOL) so it's guaranteed to be a viney summer for me this year! LOL

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 7:47AM
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ruggy(Zone 10)

Howdy! Well, this year I scaled back the MG's (although I'll probaby miss them so much I'll go complete madness with them next year). This year I did a large hanging pot with miniature sunspot MGs (ipomoea luteola) and a large floor pot with a 4-foot bamboo obelisk with Picotee Blue MGs... the minis are already in full bloom! To make up for the MG's, I did plant a hanging pot of black-eyed susan vine, and another obelisk'd pot with cucamelons as a centerpiece on the table :0) I did go with a lot more big dramatic growies this year, hopefully will have a stunning balcony this season!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 9:01PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Hey ruggy! I haven't planted a MG in about 3 years now and all kinds of volunteers are popping up in almost all of my containers and even in the astroturf! LOL I'm going to have to really watch where those end up going so they don't outdo the vines I did plant this year.

I finally planted my CCs (actually based on the foliage, I think they are mis-labeled cypress vine), HBs, and SRBs outside last week. I had earlier sowed some sweet peas that finally popped up a few weeks ago but are going slow. Have lots of vines (including 2 honeysuckles, a clematis, and now an amethyst falls wisteria) going out there.

I'm really hoping that the Cypress vine (I should just call it that) really takes off because I tried it last year and it withered away as tiny vinelette sprouts during the unseasonably cool May last year and I never got to see blooms.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 11:52AM
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More Morning Glory questions and general viney things questions ;-)
I'm in Zone 8a - North Texas, Clay soil.

This is my first year trying vines and like all things garden I went full blast. I planted Grandpa Ott MG's first in starter trays - I know the authoritative sources (one web article mercilessly copied and pasted 100 times) all say they don't transplant well but I guess they can't read very well as they are growing like mad. I have several other varieties that I just stuck in the dirt and they are coming up just fine so looking forward to lots of vines soon.

I've planted:
Morning Glories
Moonflower (2 seeds, I soaked them as advised and they appeared to have 'blown up' so I don't know if they will still germinate but only planted a couple days ago.
Cardinal Climbers
Cypress Vine
Cup and Saucer (neat neat neat growth habit)
Hyacinth Bean Vine

So I am starting to get my first flowers on the grandpa Ott's. One five days ago, 3 the next, 20-30 blooms this morning. BEAUTIFUL. The other stuff is just starting to climb but the MG's 'eat' another 6"of string daily.

I have some of each in pots, along a fence, along brick wall and climbing up from hanging baskets on my patio.

1. I've read that MG's will grow in any soil and that they don't need much fertilizer (too much Nitrogen means lots of vine and leaves and few flowers). They seem to be growing REALLLLY nicely though and flowering just fine after I mulched with a few inches of a pretty rich compost (2/3 finished, aged, homemade compost and 1/3 "moo-Nure" from home Depot which is a little hot out of the bag if used straight. Any of you longtime MG growers care to comment on whether MG's really LIKE crappy soil or if they TOLERATE crappy soil and like everything else do much better in good soil?

2. I found this thread while looking for info on how to get them to spread - it seems like some are throwing off secondary growth tips so I am wondering what is typical??? If I can get them to spread sideways I won't plant as many/close. Using string for support but after reading the above stuff I realized I have poly bird netting in the garage that would be easy to pop up with a few staples. Narrowing the question - right now the vines are mostly one growing tip racing for the sky - will they start throwing off more growing tips I can angle off to the side then up to fill in the gaps? Looking to cover the fence. When they get to the top will they grow back down (trailing)???

3. On those moonflower seeds, I soaked them overnight and they were swollen and split - still viable or did I blow them up?

4. Anyone else have tips chewed off and do new growing tips emerge pretty fast? Turns out we have roof rats that run along the fence rails and it must be them but boy was I pissed. That 'path' is now spiked with nice sharp nails but rats are resourceful - anyone try hot pepper spray or anything that doesn't bother vines but makes rats unhappy?

5. I have several vines growing out of hanging baskets and they ran straight to the top of our pagoda over the patio... will they spread along the roof or does growth stop when they can't climb? Some of each vine here - MG, Hyacinth, cypress, cardinal climber and cup/saucer.

Tips, advice, lessons learned appreciated. Right now I am feeding and watering frequently - don't mind if I get a lot of foliage and few blooms until the patio and fence get covered. Appreciate any advice of the "well if you want vines to go entirely little shop of horrors on you then just...." sort.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 4:57PM
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I am working on the problem of getting the morning glories to go sideways. When the leaders get to the top of the rail there's nowhere for them to go, they wave around wildly looking for support. Poor things!

I've had some success in letting the leader get very long, then draw it down to the bottom of one of the uprights that support the rail. Once they grab onto that they start upwards again toward the rail. It seems I could keep doing this, moving over 1 or 2 uprights each time the leader gets long enough.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 9:19PM
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