What Is Beach Morning Glory: Growing Beach Morning Glories In Gardens

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Ipomoea pes-caprae is a sprawling vine found on beaches from Texas across to Florida and up to Georgia. The flowers look similar to morning glory, hence the name beach morning glory, but the foliage is much different. It makes an excellent ground cover, with evergreen leaves and a quick-growing nature. What is beach morning glory? We’ll delve into that question together along with some fun beach morning glory info.

What is Beach Morning Glory?

Beach morning glory is also called railroad vine due to its scrambling nature and ability to cover less used tracks and roadsides. It is adapted to coastal areas where sand is plentiful and the soil is well-draining. Salt, heat, and wind don’t bother this plant and it is common to see it splayed across a dune in coastal regions. The large mats it forms help stabilize sand where it grows just above high tide.

Beach morning glory can exceed 33 feet (10 m.) in length. It is native to coastal regions of North America and pan-tropical globally. In the U.S., it is hardy to zone 9 to 11. Leaves are 1 to 6 inches in length (2.5-15 cm.), double-lobed, thick, fleshy, and evergreen. The roots of this plant are often more than 3 feet (1 m.) into the sand. Flowers are funnel-shaped, darker at the corolla, and may be pink, reddish-purple, or dark violet.

The perennial vine is just 16 inches high (40.5 cm.) but creates a tangled, low-growing thicket.

Beach Morning Glory Info

The tangled vines and deep taproot make growing beach morning glories perfect for stabilizing soil. Beach morning glories in gardens can perform as groundcovers. They are often seen tumbling in and over seawalls or along beach paths.

Propagation is through seed or cuttings. Seeds do not need a dormant period but the seed coat must be scarified before germination, which occurs in every season but winter. These remarkable vines need little nutrition and have a high drought tolerance. To establish beach morning glories in gardens, take a cutting and set it into moistened sand. The internodes will shortly send out roots. Set them 3 feet (1 m.) apart and keep plants moist for the first few months.

Beach Morning Glory Care

Gardeners growing beach morning glories can breathe a sigh of relief. These plants are practically foolproof once established. The biggest problem will be their rapid growth rate and spread, but if you have a large area to cover, they are an excellent plant.

Vines will scramble over other plants and need to be pruned away to prevent choking out other species. Overwatering should be avoided. Simply water regularly while the plant establishes and then leave it alone.

Beach morning glories are even unpalatable to many animals due to high levels of bitter white sap. If you have the space, this is a fun native plant that will provide yearlong color and texture.

NOTE: Before planting anything in your garden, it is always important to check if a plant is invasive in your particular area. Your local extension office can help with this.

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Beach Morning Glory Info - Learn About Beach Morning Glory Care In Gardens - garden

Click on linked scientific names for photos and/or more information.

Common name
Scientific name

Salt tolerance

Bromeliad ¨
Aechmea rubens
(Link is to related species)

Full sun to partial shade

Medium-sized, vase-shaped bromeliad, with green leaves. Flowers appear in summer as tall, red and orange spikes, followed by berries. Related species also drought-tolerant.

Full sun to partial shade

Medicinal aloe sap from leaves used for treating burns. Clump-forming succulent with fleshy green leaves. Flowers in winter and spring. Also known as A. vera.

Stemless rosette that sreads by offset rosettes. Lance-shaped, succulent leaves are pale-green with white speckles and armed with sharp, dark brown teeth. Tubular yellow, orange or red flowers borne on purplish stalk. Requires well-drained soil. Perfect for rock gardens and seaside gardens. Attracts hummingbirds. Other aloes also drought tolerant.

Perennial, upright, bunch grass forming large clumps. Stems with blue at base. Leaves blue-green in early summer, maturing to copper or orange-brown in fall. Bronze to purplish seed heads, to 3”, in late summer. Tolerates flooding in summer.

Low, non-twining legume with oval-shaped leaflets and yellow pea-like flowers. Stems grow along ground, rooting at nodes when in contact with soil. Will shed leaves during drought. Can tolerate waterlogged soils or frequent flooding, as well as wide range of soils. Grows better under shaded conditions than in full sun. Also known as A. glabrata and A. hypogaea.

Star begonia, winter begonia ¨
Begonia heracleifolia
(Link is to related species)

Rhizomatous (spreads by rhizomes) begonia with large, hairy, deeply lobed, toothed, bronzy green leaves and fragrant, white to pink flowers on long, reddish stalks. Caution: Begonia cucullata is FLEPPC Category II invasive.

Rhizomatous begonia with huge, round, dark glossy green leaves to 2’ wide and large white, fragrant flowers held in large panicles well above foliage.

Rhizomatous begonia with apple green leaves shaped like stars and with rings of red hairs around leaf petioles. Winter blooms are deep pink.

Attractive purple flowers. Excellent ground cover for beach-front locations, although it can grow into surrounding shrubs or over fences.

Prostrate succulent with long, spreading, narrow stems and crowded, erect leaves with finely serrated reddish margins. In spring and summer it produces 3” diameter pale yellow flowers that age to dull pink. Brownish, fig-like fruit follow.

Dwarf form of native shrub with attractive, thick, glossy foliage, fragrant , jasmine-like flowers, and edible fruit. The spiny leaves and stems make this a good barrier plant once established. Web blight a problem if excessively wet.

Full sun to partial shade

Attractive, clump-forming grass with wide leaves and nodding, arching clusters of flat, oat-like seedheads. Resembles small sea-oats. Dried flowerheads highly prized. Also grown as groundcover in shaded areas.

Native vining shrub with glossy green, elliptical to lanceolate leaves and tiny white flowers. Also known as C. pinetorum.

Full sun to partial shade

Native, prostrate, evergreen shrub with small, holly-like, spiny leaves and attractive red berries.

Elegant, fragrant, clumping grass with thin, strap-like, yellow-green leaves that release citrus aroma when crushed. Prefers moist soil moderate drought tolerance.

Small, spiky grass with leaves in a single plane. Useful on wet, saline soils. Host plant for wandering skipper butterfly larvae.

Miniature agave ¨
Dyckia brevifolia
(Link is to related species)

Full sun to partial shade

Rosette-forming, terrestrial bromeliads. Leaves stiff, linear spiny-margined and often strongly tinged reddish or brownish, or may be coated in silvery scales. Yellow, orange, or red bell-shaped flowers grow from edge rather than center of rosette. Forms large clumps. Suitable as bedding or rock garden plants.

Native perennial. Likes pinelands. Grows best in dry sand. Plant close together for best cover.

Beach creeper, golden creeper
Ernodea littoralis

Intolerant of over watering, but excellent as ground cover for beach front. Flowers insignificant.

Slow-growing, thorny, semi-succulent shrub with bright green, obovate leaves and small to medium yellow, orange, or red flowers. Excellent in rock gardens. Often used as low hedge in coastal areas. Small Thai dwarf varieties used as bedding plants and groundcovers.

Colorful native annual or perennial. As easily grown as it is beautiful. Considerable variation in flower color typical variety bears red flowers with yellow-tipped petals. Plant in open site with good drainage. Good for beach-front plantings.

Mat-forming plant with crowded rosettes of mostly unlobed leaves that are green above and whitish beneath. Orange flowerheads with a black eye spot at petal bases.

Full sun to partial shade

Freely branching, sprawling perennial with 3-lobed, finely dissected, aromatic leaves and clusters of pink, lilac, purple or white flowers. Requires well-drained soil. Attracts butterflies. Good bedding plant.

Fig marigold
Glottiphyllum depressum
(Link is to related species)

Light green, semi-cylindrical leaves 3–4” long. Large, yellow, daisy-like flowers produced in spring.

Small bromeliad with basal rosettes of broad, strap-like, apple-green leaves. Striking bright bracts surround clusters of tubular, white to yellow flowers in summer. Other Guzmania also drought tolerant.

Erect or prostrate, spreading plant with sand paper-like leaves and 2.5-3” yellow “sun” flowers. Suitable for beach-front plantings. Good for attracting butterflies.

Full sun or partial shade

Clump-forming perennial with grass-like leaves and lily-like flowers from late spring to fall, depending on variety. Available in yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and near-white. Only certain varieties succeed in south Florida (Evergreen, Semis).

Dwarf cultivar of native holly. Evergreen, woody shrub with small white flowers and small, brilliant red berries. Highly attractive to butterflies and birds.

Native, course, sprawling, vine with smooth, fleshy leaves and large, rosy pink flowers.

Twining vine grows over sand dunes. Blooms from spring to fall, with white ‘morning-glory’ flowers opening each morning and closing in the afternoon. Ideal for beach-front.

Scraggly, course, shrubby perennial. Good for beach-front plantings.

Additional Varieties

Beach Morning Glory

Petals of light- to medium-pink and creamy-white outlines around each petal.

Blue Silk (Ipomoea x imperialis)

These petals are soft-blue and have white edging and white stripes.

Blue Star (Ipomoea tricolor)

Light-blue petals and a star of dark blue.

Chocolate (Ipomoea nil)

Convolvulus Arvensis

Lily-like in shape, their petals are a very pale pink and contain white stripes.

Crimson Rambler (Ipomoea purpurea)

An heirloom flower with burgundy-rose petals and a white throat.

Early Call (Ipomoea nil)

Flowers in a mixture of colors, including blue, white, rose, pink, and lavender some of these flowers can have white edges.

Flying Saucers (Ipomoea tricolor)

Petals of pale-blue or white that are streaked with purple.

Glacier Moon (Ipomoea tricolor)

Petals that are pale ice blue.

Hawaiian Bell

These bloom sporadically throughout the year and have petals of deep-red, yellow centers, and a strip of white in between.

Japanese Morning Glory

Beautiful white petals with red flushes all over the petals themselves.

Kniola’s Black (Ipomoea purpurea)

These have a white throat and the petals are a very deep blue.

Merremia Umbellata

Their petals are bright yellow in color and very small.

Milky Way (Ipomoea purpurea)

These have petals that are white with five carmine stripes.

Minibar Rose (Ipomoea x imperialis)

The petals are rose-crimson and have a white throat they sometimes a central star and edging, and the leaves are lobed and variegated.

Morning Star (Ipomoea purpurea)

Their petals have white throats and come in a mix of purple, rose, white, violet, blue, and pink.

Mt. Fuji Mix (Ipomoea x imperialis)

These flowers have petals in mixed colors of crimson, pink, pale-blue, purple, and deep violet their edges are white and they have white stripes they also have lobed, variegated leaves.


Lavender petals with white trim around each separate petal.

Pearly Gates (Ipomoea tricolor)

These have pure-white flowers.

Red Picotee

Beautiful reddish-pink petals trimmed in white.

Rivea Corymbosa

A Christmas vine, their petals are white with greenish-yellow centers.

Rose Silk (Ipomoea x imperialis)

The Rose Silk has petals of soft pink and a white throat the leaves are variegated.

Scarlett Star (Ipomoea nil)

Cerise-colored petals with a beautiful white star-like center.

Tie Dye (Ipomoea x imperialis)

These have lavender petals and various purple-striped patterns.

Wedding Bells (Ipomoea tricolor)

Beautiful lavender-pink petals.

White Dwarf

Small white flowers with yellow centers.

Woolly Morning Glory

Also called the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose or the Elephant Creeper, it has tightly clustered and is lavender in white.

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