The color of ‘Chocolate Rose Silk‘ blooms can be best described as a muddy rose color, in certain lights and conditions the ‘chocolate’ colored flower is a lot darker. The blooms span between 5 and 6 inches wide and have a white-picotee edge. The flowers of this Japanese Morning Glory stay open for the better part of the day. Don’t confuse the ’Chocolate Rose Silk’ Japanese morning glory with the ’Chocolate’ Japanese morning glory. ’Chocolate’ doesn’t have a white trim around the flower like ’Chocolate Rose Silk’ does. There seem to be a lot of “versions” of this Japanese morning glory available. Some have the white trim around the bloom, some have variegated foliage and some have larger, more frilly blooms than others. Which makes me wonder why seed sellers who carry this Japanese morning glory describe them as “rare” when there are so many varieties of it available.
The first thing you may notice about Japanese morning glories, after the blooms, is their distinctive foliage. The leaves of Japanese morning glories look dramatically different than the morning glory that’s probably growing in an alley near your home and garden. There are various leaf forms, I believe this one is called dragonfly leaf (“Tonbo-ba”) because supposedly the leaves resemble a dragonfly spreading its four wings.
The third growth characteristic you may notice about Japanese morning glories is the longer than average sepals. The seed pods are also different in that they don’t dangle like they do in Ipomoea purpurea. See the picture of the seed pods in my post on how to save morning glory seeds. The seed pods on Japanese morning glories point upward.
The blooms on my ‘Chocolate Rose Silk’ morning glory showed some variation. For example: take a look at this picture of ‘Chocolate Rose Silk’ and compare it to the picture posted above. This bloom opened on a day when it was twenty degrees colder, cloudy and photographed late afternoon.
In Japan morning glories are serious business and lead the lives of pampered plants in pots. Do an internet search for “Asagao” morning glories and prepared to be wowed at the variety of bloom size, shape and color. While researching my Japanese morning glory I rediscovered the morning glories database by Yoshiaki Yoneda. If you'd like to learn about the history, care and cultivation of Japanese morning glories: this database is the most comprehensive resource in English. Make sure to read the beginner's guide to Asagao Japanese morning glories.
Morning glories have a reputation of being invasive plants. In gardens in my neighborhood I can see several examples of this (mostly 'Grandpa Ott'), but I think the Japanese morning glories are less so. 'Chocolate Rose Silk' grew to a decent size and bloomed nicely, but not as prolific as one would expect. I think it may have something to do with the fact that in Japan they're accustomed to a to living a life of pampered potted plants and their every whim catered to. If you live in a Zone where morning glories grow rapidly and can become a nuisance consider growing a Japanese morning glory and in the style of the morning glory enthusiast of Japan as described in the morning glory database linked above.
Japanese Morning Glory Resources
See this paper about the genetic analysis of white-margined flowers in the Japanese morning glory and an explanation of the dusky mutant Japanese morning glories displaying reddish-brown or purplish-gray flowers(PDF). “Ron Convolvulaceae,” who you are likely to come across online at any forum about morning glories, has a Cubit about morning glories that was a tremendous help in my research. In one of his postings online I learned that Ipomoea x imperialis is not a scientific epithet for Japanese morning glories. The term is used by the horticultural trade and garden writers only and is pretty much meaningless. “EmmaGrace,” is a Japanese morning glory grower, hybridizer and expert in the chocolate-colored Japanese morning glories. If you’re looking to buy some exotic Japanese morning glories her Ebay seller name is “jmglvr.” Both of them were a tremendous asset in my research and as the reason I’m running a Japanese morning glory fever.
How to Collect Morning Glory Seeds.
Related Post: How to Save Morning Glory Seeds.