Morning Glories and fertilizer...myths and reality...

Netcong, NJ(Zone 5b)

Hello Everyone -

The topic of morning glories and fertilizer(s) is often in question and so I thought I would start a thread devoted to this aspect of the plants and to explore various optimal conditions...

MG's do not generally actually 'like' 'poor' soil conditions,but are more accurately usually tolerant of nutrient poor soil and dry conditions...some noteworthy exceptions would include those species from very arid and (sometimes) nitrogen poor areas that will produce the large(nutrient and water) storage roots which will often require well drained root mediums with various lengths of dry periods in between waterings as a preventative to any damaging fungal growths...

High nitrogen levels favors growth of microbes and other organisms...some of these additional organisms form a symbiotic relationship with the plants,but some organisms are pathogenic and should be organism which may be pathogenic to a plant as a seedling,may be relatively helpful to an older plant which has developed a healthy immune system...e.g.,many organisms help to break down complex molecules into simpler molecules which are nutritious or otherwise helpful to the root environment...

The term 'fertilizer' is a very general fuzzy term that could refer to a large number of different substances...

The different nutrients that are considered as essential for plant growth are referred to as Macronutrients(Major or primary),Minor Nutrients(secondary) and Micronutrients...plant growth and behavior is also affected by elements,compounds and hormones not considered essential...the usage of the terms 'fertilizer' and 'rich' or 'poor soils are relative fuzzy non-specific terms that can sometimes be misleading...

Some Different components of Fertilizers and role in plant response

The ratios of the various nutrients are a very important factor in the outcome of the ongoing and final biochemical equational process...

Some threads where I shared previously on the topic of morning glories and nutrients...

GW where I linked to a select number of other threads

Mycorrhization Helper Bacteria (MHB) are microbes that are in the rhizosphere and are beneficial in addition to symbiotic fungal relationships

There are different organisms to be found living in COLD compost as compared to the organisms that grow in HOT compost and the life forms from both types of compost can play an important role in a symbiotic relationship with the plants...

Stress of various types to the plants can induce them to flower,e.g.,root space stress,water stress,nutrient stress etc.,

I personally do not regard stressing the plants as the optimal flowering inducement technique,but sometimes stressing the plant may be the only practical method of inducing flowering...and as previously posted I am a proponent of optimum nutrition including both macro and micro nutrients for optimal overall health including flower induction ..this includes nitrogen (N) in a form and ratio(!) that provides for all of the needs of the plant...phosphorus (P) for flower induction and healthy root systems potassium (K) to assist in all aspects of the plants metabolism and all of the trace minerals found to be required and helpful to a plants growth and metabolism...

There some trace minerals are considered essential elements,but many considered as not essential are still beneficial to a plants metabolism...

Trace minerals are vital to many enzymatic reactions and something like,e.g.,a zinc deficiency could impair many processes related to flowering...soil ph,H2O availability,temperature gradients,ambient ion concentrations,container size,material of any container,varying electromagnetic spectra from the sun and elsewhere(!) can all factor in when trying to achieve an environmental 'formula' for desired results...
Often too many factors of influence cannot be realistically ascertained,so an intelligent 'guesstimate' must be employed and/or a cautious trial and error regimen be implemented to 'see what seems to work' in any particular given locality with an amount of 'unknown' factors/variables...

Its not so much the case that MG plants 'like' nutrient poor conditions or water deprivation but more so the case that water starved plants in combination with nutrient poor soil will stress the MG plants, produce less than optimally healthy plants, and the plants will therefore sometimes force themselves into blooming and into trying to set seed sooner in an attempt to perpetuate the species into the next seasons new generation of plants...
additionally the seeds produced from nutrient and water stressed plants are not as healthy as seeds from plants that received optimal nutrition...

Glad to hear from everyone sharing from their own experience...

Hope some of what I mentioned is found to be helpful...



This message was edited Aug 20, 2008 10:41 AM

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

thats really good Ron ive allways used fertilizer on my MG s i use a lot of cow manure to and ive allways gotten lots of flowers . regards Paul

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I had good luck getting an abundance of flowers on JMGs with use of a bloom booster type fertilizer, maybe once every 2 weeks or so. I would follow the directions on the package for containers so you don't burn the vines by overdoing it.


Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

Ron....good discussion. In the same vein, I recently read a blog from the OSU, North Willamet experiment station, on the importance of pH in Broccolii and Brussel sprouts crops. It said that a desease they both get , called CLUBROOT, dissipates after pH 6.5, and is absent altogether at
pH 7.5. They therefore recommended buffering your fields up to pH 7.5 for commercial harvest
purposes. Soil temp and pH , when the conditions are coincidentally perfect, cause such famous catastrophies as the Irish potatoe famine. To be more succinct, If we control the growing conditions, in a way that doesn't allow the pH and temp that welcomes the germination and developement of fungul spores, we are providing a healthier, longer growing season, because it isn't interrupted by any outbreaks. Generally speaking, the pathogenic fungi have a growing season too, just like corn, etc. But they are so small they are invisible, until a crop failure shows that they are present. If we could get everyone on this thread to get a pH meter at their garden center, and report on pH levels, we might learn something we are not expecting too.
Having spent several decades looking at the insides of dead trees, I have observed much fungal damage. I live in the PNW Pacific North West, and up here our Ponderosa pine lives up pretty high comparatively. With this specie temperature of storage is everything. When temps are between 45 F and 55 F, the logs have to be rushed to the mill, to get it sawn and kiln dried before the fungus turns it blue inside. The vascular tubes inside the Ppine, are so large and the pores at both ends of the tubes are so large also, that the blue stain causing fungal mycelia, can
actually travel the lenghth of the log in a few weeks. Logs of this specie are ok if they lay on the ground frozen all winter, unless you get a three week warm spell, then look out. This blue stain is a serious downgrading characteristic because the stain will actually stain the paint you put on it.
To sum this blog up, is to say that where pathogenic fungi are conserned, we can control them if we can use temp against them (planting temp), or if we can control the pH, or if we can control the moisture. The fiercest fungal pathogens like really wet conditions, for transport purposes. Frank

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

Gerris, exactly which blossom booster did you use? Frank

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I used a couple. One was a so-called natural based fertilizer derived from fish and seaweed (out of Alaska as I recall) and the other was I think a Schultz product. Wish I could remember more, I would recognize the containers on the shelf. I don't have them any more because I used them up on the MGs and Brugmansias last summer.

Baton Rouge area, LA(Zone 8b)

I gave mine room to grow,kept everything weeded out,kept volunteers plucked up to avoid crowding the vines and fertilized with 1/2 strength miracle grow once as they began to climb and another time when it was blooming. I used some good compost from selected pruning leftovers and even tried using some dried lawn clippings for mulch in dry spots and in wet areas I worked on remedies for drainage. I also used a insecticide/fungicide combination product intended for use on roses with exellent results. I tested anything new I tried on one plant I could do without to see if it worked and was compatible then used it on everything once I could see the results were good. They thrived and I got lots of healthy seed pods.

I`m going to test the ph of my soil this year to see how that affects morning glories.

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

It looks to me like the science that might go into MGS is not very popular. Nonetheless, I must add this , and that is that the prongs of the pH testor must be kept clean and sceptic before
using the pH meter to test anything. The prongs must be kept clean with distillled water and what ever other methods you can use to keep the chemistry neutral on the prongs. If the prongs are not clean, they will give fauslty readings. Frank

scio, oregon, OR(Zone 8a)

What has worked best for me: good plant nutrition (compost and bloom booster) but "stressing" the plant into blooming by container growing. Once the roots hit the bottom of the container they know it's time to flower and produce seed.

Baton Rouge area, LA(Zone 8b)

It looked like some varieties had more tendency to grow leaves and no flowers if overly pampered. The large flowered JMG likes more pampering and the purpureas and long vine JMG like Scarlet OHara (sp?) will take over large quantities of real estate before you ever see a bloom if the soil is rich. I think the full sun is important too. Too much shade and the blooms might be slow,none or small.

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

i did use a bloom booster to made by Expert Gardener Bloom Booster

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

I prefer Osmocote 14-14-14, it is a once a year treatment and perfect for blooming plants in pots or containers. It is slow release also. Frank

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I used a slow release formulation on my brug containers, and over did it...almost burned up the brug forest. Intervention was not a pretty scene...I had to repot 8 humongo containers with new soil.

Sign me A newbie to brugs who wanted to see a bazillion flowers on the plants!

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 9b)

Osmocote makes also a product called Osmocote Plus. This one comes as 15-9-12, but also has 6 trace minerals, most notably Iron and Magnesium, both of which are necessary to make Chlorophyl. Frank

I always start mine in peat pots and include Osmocote in the soil mix. After I put them in the ground the vines go through a “cover the earth phase” when the weather gets warm. At some point, either when the vegetative growth starts to slow down, or I think they have gotten large enough, I start giving them a bit of bloom fertilizer. This nudges them into the reproductive phase of their life cycle. Not giving morning glorys adequate nutrition insures that you will get puny vines, which may bloom a bit earlier but will only produce a few flowers.

Mesilla Park, NM

I'm glad to have found this thread while it was linked to another...

Several of the Tie Dye forms that I started the end of Jan were really not doing well the first few weeks, after using fish emulsion, messenger and mighty plant, they look great. I'm not sure which of these did the trick. Hopefully they won't produces just foilage, but I guess time will tell.

Sprayed Messenger one week (foliage only)
Next week sprayed Mighty Plant (foliage only)
Next week watered root system with fish emulsion
and have continued to mist with water bottle

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Here is some more interesting information.

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