Is Red Morning Glory a Beneficial Plant?

Kim Eierman

Kim Eierman

Founder of EcoBeneficial!

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Is Red Morning Glory a Beneficial Plant?

Is Ipomoea coccinea (Red Morning Glory) beneficial to a wildlife garden in central NC?

Answer:

Hummingbirds are certainly attracted to the red tubular flowers of Red Morning Glory, and butterflies are also known to visit.  But there is a caveat when considering this plant for a wildlife garden.  Many sources, including the USDA, consider Ipomoea coccinea to be an introduced, non-native plant which, in addition, has been declared a noxious weed in Arizona and Arkansas.  In fact, it is illegal to cultivate Red Morning Glory in Arizona.

In the book,  Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests, the authors list Ipomoea coccinea and several other Ipomoea species as invasive vines.  Red Morning Glory is a rapidly growing, twining annual vine that thrives in a sunny location.  Often found in disturbed areas, like roadsides, it can be quite aggressive in a garden situation.

Why not consider some native vines which are equally compelling to hummingbirds and butterflies?  Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a lovely, long-blooming vine which won’t eat your yard.  A perennial twining vine, it will gently grow to about 20 feet, and will flower well in full sun.  Clusters of long red tubular flowers accented with yellow, are followed by bright red berries – nutritious food for many birds.  Its leaves are evergreen to semi-evergreen in the South.

If you have a spot for a “friskier” native vine, try Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata).  Showy orange-red, trumpet-shaped flowers make this plant a standout.  Its a vigorous grower, reaching as much as 50 feet, attaching itself to any available support by its tendrils.  Crossvine will happily climb fences, bricks, stonework and trees.  Plant it in full sun for best flowering which typically occurs in May and June.  The flowers are then followed by pod-like seed capsules.  In parts of the South, its foliage will be fully evergreen.

Another vigorous native vine to consider is Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans).  It will also scale most surfaces and can climb to 35 feet via aerial rootlets.  In the Southeast, Trumpet Creeper can colonize rampantly, so keep it in check by planting it near hardscape to limit its growth, and prune it back to a reasonable expanse.  A strong native plant like this is a perfect foil for aggressive, non-native invasive plants that may not provide the same ecological services.  Trumpet Creeper is a hummingbird magnet and long-tongued bees also visit the flowers.  Full sun planting will reward you with the best floral display.

Thanks for writing in.

Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!

Photo: Ipomoea coccinea (Red Morning Glory)
Photo credit:  Wikipedia Commons

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