annual vines to shade south-facing wall and windows

ClareBroommaker's picture

I picked up some Heavenly Blue morning glory seeds for my garden. But I'm also thinking about sowing some in a container to grow up strings in front of a south facing wall and two windows. Have you grown morning glories in containers before? Last time I tried it, the plants were really puny. I was thinking maybe they need a lot of soil to grow deep roots in order for the vines to reach a good size. What do you think? My containers were refrigerator drawers, maybe12 X 16 X 6 inches, 6 being the depth. I could find bigger containers now.

Magpie's picture

I don't remember exactly where you are located, but I am now at ~38 degrees from the equator, and blue morning glory is EVERYWHERE: covering bushes, trees, and fields. It's a vigorous grower, with rhizomes that are difficult to kill, and a habit of smothering other plants. If you are in a warmer location, I would strongly advise against planting this plant in the ground. Put it in a pot to be safe--if it looks sick, then you can fertilize it and see if it does better.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Oh, that's a good thing to point out. I haven't lived where morning glories survive through winter via rhizomes. But even here in USDA zone 6, morning glories spread by seed very, very easily and keep germinating new ones all summer long so that you never get to stop weeding them. However the particular one I am planting, Heavenly Blue, does not seem to have seeds that can survive our winters. So if anyone else is tempted to try morning glories and are in a cold winter area, I can suggest only Heavenly Blue.

We have two blue smaller flowered morning glories that re-seed freely around here. One is an Asian import and one is a native. Those two are both problems to me.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I cannot help on Morning Glories as my relationship with them is to treat them as weeds since they potentially can carry pathogens affecting sweet potatoes. I can advocate for Malabar Spinach as an alternate. While it is actually a perennial in the tropics where it can obtain a vine length of 30', for us it is an annual reaching 8-10' vine length. Downside would be that it doesn't really get going until it is hot so you would only get much shade from mid-Summer and later. Upsides are that it is really an attractive plant and is very tasty either raw or cooked. Like Morning Glories it is a twining vine, i.e., does not have tendrils.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I'd never heard that about morning glories and sweet potatoes. Hmm. We must not have the pathogen in the neighborhood because we are surrounded by morning glories, but so far no sweet potato diseases. Morning glories are actually quite a nuisance the way the cover everything and reseed like crazy. But in my experience Heavenly Blue does not re-seed here, so it won't get out of control.

Malabar spinach is an interesting idea. I think it would make a denser shade than the morning glories. And certainly no problem with re-seeding either. I grew it once for eating, but, well, pretty much detested it. Pretty plant though. I'll keep it in mind.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

You might want to revisit the edibility. I say this because when I was considering growing it for the first time I asked a friend whether she had ever grown it. She said she had and did not care for it; found it bitter to her taste. I chose to grow it anyway and served her some during a visit and she found it quite acceptable. I don't know if perhaps it varies with variety, soil type, etc., or perhaps her tastes had evolved.

Malabar spinach is mucilaginous. I couldn't get past that. It is the only leafy green vegetable I have encountered that I do not like.

Did you serve it raw or cooked?

Maybe it could be made less slimy by boiling it with a pinch of baking soda. That's what my friend showed me to do with cactus leaves, and it really works--well enough that I then planted some prickly pear in the front yard.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

>Malabar spinach is mucilaginous<

For me that is a feature, not a bug.

>Did you serve it raw or cooked<

Both. I really don't think I notice the mucilaginous character when raw though. Frequently I use it in place of lettace which is something that I cannot grow well here

David Trammel's picture

Here are two links I found right off

There is some discussion about soil type and the need for drainage.

One thing that caught my eye, since you want to use them for shade was to plant them in hanging baskets and let the vines hang down to cover the wall, instead of letting them grow up. Perhaps use both techniques, with containered plants at the bottom to the tressle and baskets at the top.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Hanging baskets would provide less root space than my refrigerator drawer containers. I'm thinking they couldn't grow big enough to do the job.