Yellow Morning Glory Foliage – Treating Yellow Leaves On Morning Glories

By: Liz Baessler

Morning glories are beautiful, prolific vines that come in all kinds of colors and can really take over a space with their brilliance. There is a risk, however, of yellowing leaves on morning glories, which can give the plants an unsightly look and damage their health. Keep reading to learn about what to do when your morning glory leaves are yellow.

Reasons a Morning Glory Has Yellow Leaves

Why do morning glory leaves turn yellow? Yellow morning glory foliage can be caused by a few different things.

Morning glories are, for the most part, hardy plants that can grow in a variety of conditions. Move it too far out of the plant’s comfort zone, however, and it will not be happy. This is usually evidenced by yellowing leaves.

A likely cause is too much or too little water. Morning glories thrive with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of rainfall per week. If they go through a drought lasting longer than a week, their leaves may begin to yellow. Water your plants to an inch (2.5 cm.) per week if rain is absent, and the leaves should perk up. Similarly, too much water can cause problems. As long as drainage is good, lots of rain alone shouldn’t be a problem. If water is allowed to stand around the plant, however, the roots could begin to rot, causing the leaves to yellow.

Yellowing leaves on morning glories could also be caused by over fertilization. Morning glories don’t really need fertilizer at all, but if you do use it, you should apply it when the plants are young and just starting to grow. Fertilizing a mature plant can cause yellow leaves.

Another possible cause is sunlight. True to their name, morning glories bloom in the morning, and they need plenty of sunlight to do it. Make sure your plant receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, and that some of it is in the morning, or you may see yellowing leaves.

Natural Causes of Yellow Morning Glory Foliage

Yellow leaves on morning glories aren’t necessarily a problem, and could just be a sign of the changing of the seasons. In areas with cold winters, morning glories are usually treated as annuals. Cool nighttime temperatures will cause some leaves to yellow, and frost will cause most of them to yellow. Unless you bring your plant inside to overwinter, this is a natural sign that its lifespan is almost up.

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Side Effects of Morning Glory Seeds You Must Know

To experience a hallucinogenic effect, hundreds of morning glory seeds need to be consumed. This can lead to serious health conditions. This Buzzle article presents a list of side effects of eating these seeds.

To experience a hallucinogenic effect, hundreds of morning glory seeds need to be consumed. This can lead to serious health conditions. This Buzzle article presents a list of side effects of eating these seeds.

Morning glory vines with their heart-shaped leaves, twining stems and tendrils, and spectacular flowers help enhance the beauty of a garden. The botanical names of some of the common varieties are Ipomoea purpurea, Ipomoea nil, and Ipomoea carnea. More than 1,000 species of these ornamental flowering plants, which belong to the family ‘Convolvulaceae’, are known by the common name ‘morning glory’.

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As the name suggests, the spiral buds turn into full bloom early in the morning. But there are some exceptions, like Ipomoea muricata, which bloom at night. Morning glories are climbers which require full sun to grow and bloom. The big, fragrant flowers are very attractive. They can be bright-red with white throat (Scarlett O’Hara), pink, azure blue with white throats (Ipomoea tricolor or Heavenly Blue), purple, or white. They bloom from early summer to the first frost. The creeping stems grow and spread quickly on the ground. Some species are annual while others are perennial. Some are popularly used as green vegetables. Most of the species self-seed in the garden.

Morning Glory Seeds

The seeds, vines, flowers, and leaves of morning glories contain ‘ergoline alkaloids’, and they have been used (especially the species Ipomoea tricolor and Ipomoea violacea) by ancient Aztec and Mazatec cultures as an entheogen (a psychoactive substance obtained from natural resources, a tea, admixture, or potion like ayahuasca (yage) or bhang, that is used as a traditional medicine and a psychedelic drug, especially in a spiritual context). Entheogens supplement a number of methods for transcendence for example, meditation, yoga, prayers, chanting, witchcraft, magic, music including peyote songs and psytrance, etc. It is believed that such substances promote revealing of some form of truth (knowledge) through communication with a deity or some other supernatural entity.

Morning glory seeds were used in priestly divination rituals for example, in shamanistic rituals to reach an altered state of consciousness, to interact with the spirit world (establish contact with the supernatural energy), and to acquire knowledge of the paranormal. The seeds were also used as a poison or a hallucinogen to give the victim a ‘bad trip’ (drug-induced psychosis).

The seeds of many species of morning glory contain ergoline alkaloids like ergonovine (Ergometrine or d-lysergic acid beta-propanolamide) and ergine (d-lysergic acid amide or LSA), that are responsible for psychedelic activity. Approximately 10 µg ergine is present in a seed. How the Aztecs used these seeds was first described by Richard Schultes in 1941. The seeds were mainly used to explore the psyche, the inner experience.

It has been observed that intramuscular administration of 500 micrograms of ergine leads to a dreamy state. The person may feel exhausted and may not be able to maintain clear thoughts. The effects last for a few hours, and usually go away after a short period of sleep. The person may then start behaving normally.

Morning Glory Seeds Side Effects

✦ The seeds are highly toxic if ingested. There is one known case of suicide after ingestion.

✦ Consumption of these seeds may not directly result in the death of the person, but a morning glory high can lead to self-injury or some awful, wrong decision, eventually resulting in death.

✦ Dangerous drug interaction after ingestion of these seeds is one of the main causes of death.

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✦ The chemical compound ergonovine is used to treat certain medical conditions. But an overdose of ergonovine through the seeds can lead to hallucinations, restlessness, and dementia.

✦ Excessive consumption can result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, tinnitus, chest pain, palpitation, slow or rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, breathing difficulty, rashes, and shock.

✦ Excessive intake of ergonovine can cause vasospasm (blood vessel spasm, leading to its constriction). This can lead to insufficient supply of blood to tissues, tissue death (necrosis), gangrene (ergot poisoning), and amputations.

✦ The long-term side effects of eating morning glory seeds also include gastrointestinal disorders, weakened muscles, abnormal neuromuscular transmission, etc.

✦ Ergonovine has strong uterus-stimulating properties, so the seeds can lead to a miscarriage or an untimely termination of pregnancy.

✦ Certain chemicals present in the seeds can pass into breast milk, and can prove to be fatal for the baby, or can seriously affect the brain of the baby.

✦ Glycosides from the seeds may cause nausea.

✦ When taken in large doses, (in hundreds), the seeds can produce a similar effect to LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide, a psychedelic drug, well-known for its psychological effects and spiritual experiences). But excessive consumption of the seeds can result in serious side effects as explained above. In the 1960s, the hippies used to consume these seeds to experience the hallucinogenic effects produced by them.

✦ Often, the seeds that are available in garden stores are coated with some form of pesticide or methylmercury, as they are meant only for garden use. They can cause serious health problems, like neural damage, developmental deficits in children exposed in-utero, etc. These poisonous substances are responsible for increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks in adults. Pregnant women and those who have liver problems (e.g. jaundice, hepatitis) should stay away from these seeds. They can also trigger an allergy in sensitive individuals.

✦ Consumption by people diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression can result in worsening of their symptoms.

✦ Eating these seeds along with alcohol, MAO-inhibitors, or other drugs can lead to serious side effects like increased blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, leg cramps, etc.

The LSA present in the seeds allows the user to experience a tranquil and dreamy state, similar to that which is experienced after consumption of LSD, a powerful hallucinogenic drug (commonly known as ‘acid’). Users like to enjoy the state of dreamy awareness, increased energy, cheerfulness, and enthusiasm. The experience of taking LSD is known as a ‘trip’, and whether the trip would be good (pleasant) or bad (very frightening) cannot be figured out before taking the drug. Once the drug is consumed, the individual yearns to experience the extraordinary experience again and again.

The leaves of my morning glory vines are riddled with holes. I haven't seen any insects. What is eating the leaves?

Several different insects can cause the damage you describe. Fortunately morning glories are so vigorous that the damage may be unsightly but not harmful to the plants.

Take a close look along the stems and under the leaves for the golden tortoise beetle. It is orange with black spots and about ¼ inch long. The spiny immature stage carries fecal matter on its back for camouflage and protection from predators. If you can't stand the damage try plucking the insects off the plants and dropping them into soapy water. It's time consuming but the most environmentally friendly way to manage these pests.

A trip to the garden in the evening may reveal a different pest, earwigs. These slender reddish brown beetles have pinchers on the back end and like to feed on leaves and petals of various plants. The earwigs prefer cool dark damp places to hide. Use this to your advantage and try trapping these hungry critters. Rolled up newspaper laying at the base of the plant, cardboard cylinder from a roll of paper towels filled with straws or in old tuna fish cans baited with fish oil or vegetable oil make great traps. Place those traps out in the early evening and in the morning dump the trapped earwigs into a container of soapy water. If this isn't possible you may want to use one of the natural products like insecticidal soap or Neem. And as always read and follow label directions carefully.

Other Causes of Yellow Leaves

  • Spider Mite: What's this: Webs? Why does my plant suddenly look like it belongs in a haunted house? If any of this sounds familiar, you may have spider mites.
  • Chlorosis: which is caused by an iron deficiency. Chlorotic plant leaves will be very light green or yellow and have very deep green veins. You may also notice new growth that is a faded, washed-out green.
  • Over-Watering: Generally, this yellowness will appear in a mosaic pattern, not solid yellow, and the leaves may have unsightly, crunchy brown tips but will not fall off easily.
  • Seasonal Changes: Yes, some indoor plants will react to changes in season. I have seen this happen with Ficus trees.
  • Chemicals: Some plants react badly to chemicals in the air like paint fumes and floor treatments. Plants affected in this way will drop their leaves, which may or may not turn yellow. In my experience, Ficus trees are highly reactive to chemicals as well.
  • A New Environment: For a newly purchased plant, this is common. Most plants are grown in ideal conditions and then moved out into homes and offices that generally have much less light and airflow available. This is cause for a layoff of leaves. The plant will stop once it regains balance in its new environment.

How to Kill Morning Glory Over a Full Landscape

1. Steam Morning Glory Seedlings & Plants

Whatever you do, do not pull morning glories up from the roots. This will make the tiny plant rhizomes underground create more "tentacles" and spread roots underground wildly, up to 20 ft. or more away. These guidelines can be similarly applied to field bindweed.

Although some gardeners choose to use flame torch methods to burn weeds, I found steaming them to be much safer and environmentally friendly. There are no fumes or fire hazards with steaming. I used the PurSteam household steamer rather than a garden steamer because the water tank size was much larger, and allowed me to steam the weeds for a long 45 minutes before having to refill the tank at the water tap.

The purpose of steaming the weeds is to kill them not only above the ground but to eradicate them through heat where they vigorously spread below ground through rhizomes. This was especially easy with PurSteam because the unit is height-adjustable with a long hose and allowed the nozzle to reach multiple angles and awkward, hard to reach areas of my garden, including below my deck.

Although there are garden steamers on the market, such as DynaSteam, it did not help me much because it only allowed for straight line steaming, though some people find this model suits their needs. You can also try the highly rated Bernzomatic 19425 Garden Torch if you prefer the weed burning method.

PurSteam is multi-functional, however, which has allowed me to use it for both indoor textile and outdoor plant steaming. Wear closed-toe shoes and gloves to protect your skin from the steam.

The key to using PurSteam is to hold the nozzle against the leaves, press the button, and watch the morning glory wilt. You do not have to go through the work of steaming the higher vine growth as the roots will be dead. Wait until the next day to trim the plant at the root area to get rid of the brush. This will help ensure the underground rhizomes are dead and not spreading morning glories to other locations in your garden.

If you have local deer or goats around you can pile up the cut vines for them for a healthy snack.

You can use any one of these three steps alone, but they will be most effective when done together.

2. Sow Idealized Plants in Problem Areas

In Plant Beds:

Most gardeners still want greenery in the plant beds where they took morning glory down. If this is your wish the best solution is to plant small to mature bushes and shrubs in the same area. This is because bushes and shrubs have deeper root systems that are already thriving. They do not have to compete with morning glory to grow or stay alive, as newly sown seeds or smaller plants would. My husband and I chose orange rocket barberry shrubs. Your local garden center will have an array of shrubs native to your area that will thrive in the soil on your property.

  • Pinch the heads off any existing morning glory plants so the sun is not able to provide much energy for photosynthesis and growth through the double-lobed leaf heads.
  • You can then reseed or overseed any sparse areas of your lawn with grass seed in early spring or early fall when it is not too hot.
  • Cover this grass seed with about a 1/4-inch of compost. The key is to have the grass seed germinate and fill the lawn before the morning glory-friendly warmer temperatures come along and invade more of the soil space.

3. Apply a High Quality Weed Barrier and Mulch to Plant Beds

  • After steaming the weeds and planting any new bushes or mature plants, you will want to add a thick and breathable weed barrier atop the plant beds, molding the fabric around the plants you just placed in the ground. Although in the past I had tried laying plastic trash bags down to choke morning glory out, the bags did not hold up to the sunlight. They got brittle and littered with burnt-through holes, which brought the morning glory back. The ECOgardener fabric I used was thick and permeable, allowing the new bushes we planted to soak up needed rain as well as prevent morning glories from ever popping up in the beds. This barrier is also lightweight so you do not have to worry about carrying a heavy roll around the yard with you.
  • You will want to protect and cover the weed barrier with a layer of mulch as well. This helps the barrier to last longer as well as makes the landscape look appealing. Choose a mulch color that complements the color of your home. Choose brown if you have a lot of neutral colors on your property or red if you like bold colors. Pure cedar mulch is best if you prefer natural insect control. Although mulch colors tend to fade over time in the sun, their functionality does not diminish.

Since taking these three steps my husband and I have eradicated our morning glory infestation without harmful chemicals, and solved a problem we thought we would never be rid of!

Quick & Dirty Morning Glory Control

  • Although morning glory makes for a beautiful plant, the mature vines create the biggest problem. You will want to take them down with a sheet below the plant to catch any falling seeds. A trellised morning glory usually has hundreds of seeds waiting to fall to the soil below and germinate the following spring.
  • Pinch the heads off of any morning glories peeking out of the soil to prevent the sun from providing the majority of the energy that feeds into the plant.
  • Do not pull morning glory weeds up from the roots. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, pulling the roots creates new, more numerous fibrous roots. These roots spread underground and help cultivate the plant in new locations, many feet away. This is why morning glory is considered an invasive species, perhaps second only to the kudzu plant.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Cardinal Climber leaves turning yellow at base of plant

My Cardinal Climber plants are doing well, their stems climbing up the 6' trellis with no problem. I've noticed though that some of the leaves at the base/crown of the plant have turned completely yellow. Is that normal since the plant's energy is now focused on the leaves of the far growing stems climbing up the trellis, or is it something I should be concerned about? I don't think it's an over/under-watering problem. Thanks for any thoughts.

One or two leaves or lots?

Hi BrendaK -- thanks for this note from 12 days ago which I just read. It looks like my cardinal climber is now doing fine. At the time there are about 3 leaves turning yellow, but it looks like the summer heat has healed everything and those leaves must have just fallen off. The vine is now growing well. What a beauty.

Recovery of Morning Glory Poisoning in Dogs

Morning glory seeds can present a serious level of poisoning. Once your dog is stable, the veterinarian will let you know when you can take your dog home. For further recovery and management, it is very important to monitor your dog without fail and watch for any signs of concern.

Your medical professional will give you any information you need in order to properly care for your dog at home. If your dog requires a special diet due to the irritation of his gastrointestinal tract, your veterinarian will either prescribe specific food or give you a list of what he needs to eat and avoid eating. In order to prevent this from reoccurring, remove all toxic plants such as morning glory and the seeds from your garden. Your veterinarian will want to schedule additional visits so he may examine your dog to be sure he is continuing to remain healthy.

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