Morning glories are annual vining plants that are native to the tropical Americas. They were brought to Europe, primarily Italy and Spain, in the 1500s and were introduced into England in 1621. Morning glories were instantly unpopular in England because many gardeners thought they were a form of bindweed, a viciously aggressive vine with nasty thorns and white flowers that closely resemble morning glories.
It was not until the Victorian era when the invention of the 'moveable privy' (outhouses) became popular that morning glories found their place in western culture. Homeowners were desperately seeking something that would camouflage the unsightly 'moveable privys', and they found just what they needed with morning glories. The vines grow so rapidly and the leaves are so abundant that they quickly turned the unsightly privys into lush green temples.
In the late 1800s, the morning glory varieties bloomed so early in the day, that most people grew the vines purely for their foliage and never saw their blossoms. In her classic book, Heirloom Flowers, Tovah Martin cites a quote from the 1880 Vick's Flower and Vegetable Garden, "but a sight of a good 'patch' of these flowers in the 'dewy morn' is a feast for a whole day, and quite enough to tempt any lover of the beautiful to rise early to see and enjoy their glory."
Morning glories should be planted in the late spring or early summer when the soil has become very warm. The seeds can be scored and soaked for 24 hours before planting to hasten germination. Seeds should be planted 6 inches apart. Germination will occur in 14-21 days. Seedlings should be thinned to provide 12 inches between plants. Morning glories make great container plants. Three plants to a 10 inch pot is optimum. One final word to the wise, many people allow their morning glories to self seed. This works well, but in the ensuing years the blooms become smaller and smaller. It is best to plant fresh, new seed each year.