Plant of the Month: August 2011

This year there haven’t been enough blue skies here in Essex, in fact it feels distinctly autumnal. The haws are ripening rapidly, the leaves have that deep green that means they’ll be browning shortly and there’s the tannin tang in the air which I love so much, except that it feels a little early this year. So Plant of the Month will bring a little Summer back into this dreary August:

Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’

Every year I grow Morning Glories up cane tripods in pots. They bring blue sky cheer to even the dullest spot and their pretty heart shaped leaves and pointed flower buds reward those who take a closer look.

I start them off two or three seeds per 3″ pot in our unheated greenhouse quite late in the Spring as they’re really quite tender. I usually come to plant them up into the large pots and tripods a little too late and have to gently untangle a mess of twisting , twining shoots. They go three pots per large eighteen inch teracotta pot and  the base gets weighed down with plenty of crocks, which also help to jam the canes into place.

Ipomoeas are quite hungry and thirsty and this year the slow release pellets are proving a bit feeble for their hefty appetites so next year I’ll use liquid feed from earlier in their growth and also mix in some swell gel with the compost. Once they’re in their final pot I leave them in the greenhouse until the first flower opens when I wheel them out to their final positions.

I like to pair them with pots of red leaved Cannas because the leaf shapes and colours work nicely together. They look great with the warm red brick and daiperwork of the walls here:

They’re a little susceptible to being knocked over by the wind and charging children, so I will look for a way to secure them more firmly next year. One of the pots is sitting back round by the greenhouse broken thanks to a windy day. It’s still flowering well despite half its rootball being open to the air!

Have I convinced you these beauties should be in your seed order for next year? Or do you already grow them? There’s also a beautiful rich purple variety  called ‘Grandpa Ott’  which deserves a mention but for summery skies you really can’t beat ‘Heavenly Blue’.

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8 responses to “Plant of the Month: August 2011

  1. The color is so amazing! Your arrangement of the pots and plants is very creative…and works very well.

  2. These are so lovely. I have had no luck trying to start them from seed outside due to our crazy weather so i think I will start mine inside as well…

    • They’re really quite tender. IIRC Christopher Lloyd recommended starting them as late as June, I don’t go quite as late as that, but definitely they need to be protectd from chills.

  3. The flowers are a stunning colour and look great against that intricate brick wall. That’s not your garden wall is it?

  4. I grow them occasionally in the greenhouse when I have any space. But ‘Morning Glory’ is right – by mid-afternoon, the flowers are almost over…

    • They usually last late enough for me that it’s worth it for me to have them near the tea room and shop which close at 5. By that time they are pretty much over – but they’ve put on a good show up until that point.

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