Ask the Gardener: Morning glory? Not so much. It’s a problem plant

Ask the Expert Gardening
Morning glories are very late to flower, hence the nickname “Back-to-School Vine.’’ Adobe Stock

What to do this week Pinch off fruitless ends of tomato plants to give ripening tomatoes on the vine more sun and energy. Plant spring-flowering bulbs now such as daffodils, which are critter-proof and return for several springs in contrast with most tulips, which are expensive annuals. Don’t buy more spring-blooming bulbs than you can plant as they cannot be saved over the winter. Collect ripened seeds of heirloom vegetables and wild or old-fashioned flowers such as nigella, milkweed, verbena bonariensis, hollyhock, lobelia cardinalis, poppy, digitalis, forget-me-not, and feverfew. But don’t bother saving seeds from modern hybrids because they will not turn out like their parents. Continue planting trees and shrubs. Slide hay, plastic, or shingles under maturing pumpkins and winter squash to prevent rotting bottoms.

Q. I planted morning glory seeds this year, and I got full, lush foliage climbing up a tall trellis but no wonderful peacock blue blooms. Not a one. What happened?

A.G., Upton

A. Fall is a time to evaluate our garden successes and failures. Has anyone ever had good luck with the famous morning-glory variety called ‘Heavenly Blue?’ Not me. First, it grows very tall and narrow — straight up to the second story from a single string fastened to my bedroom window. Second, it is very late to flower, hence its nickname “Back-to-School Vine.’’ You wait and you wait. Third, when it finally does flower, the blooms collapse the minute they fall into shade. So pick a location with all-day sun, or why bother? But if you love blue flowers, you can’t beat the color. Plant seeds directly in place, a quarter-inch deep, after the last frost. To speed sprouting, try scarifying the seeds, which means sandpapering and soaking them first overnight. And try a bit of high phosphorus fertilizer to get more flowers.


Q. When is the best time to overseed my lawn? I am in north-central Worcester County. Is the best time in September? Will the young grass withstand the cleanup of leaves and acorns, or is it best to wait until fall cleanup is over, which is November.

D.B., Ashburnham

A. I think September is best, but October is not too late. Rake the leaves and acorns off and the grass seed in, and then keep it moist until it sprouts. But after that, use a leaf blower instead of a rake for any cleanup so you don’t walk on the soil.

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