Moonflower Vine



   

The Moonflower Vine is my absolute favorite plant.  It is a gorgeous vine comprised of heart-shaped leaves that, at maturity, serve as a lovely background to a nightly display of huge (6-inch), beautiful, white blooms. In addition, the scent of the Moonflower Vine permeates the night air with the most heavenly of fragrances!  

The Moonflower Vine is a relative of the Morning Glory Vine.   If you look closely and compare the two vines, you'll find their flowers are very similar in shape, although the Moonflower generally has larger blooms and is strictly white in color.  The most notable difference between the two relatives is the Moonflower Vine blooms at night, while the Morning Glory, as its name states, blooms in the mornings!  Incidentally, you will find most night blooming plants produce flowers that are white in color - a trait that lures nocturnal pollinating insects.  The pictures at the top of this post are that of a Sphinx Moth I captured on camera one evening at dusk as it pollinated my vine.  Sphinx Moths can grow as large as hummingbirds and are quite interesting to observe.  They have an iridescent glow to them when light, such as a car headlight, shines upon them at night.   They also are not shy about flittering all around you!  When visiting in the summertime, my younger nieces and nephews would patiently wait by the Moonflower Vine at dusk for the arrival of "The Moffs", as they called them!  To read a little more about Sphinx Moths, see http://www.birds-n-garden.com/hummingbird_moths.html.

I have successfully grown the Moonflower Vine from seed every year for the past 20 years. It consistently grows and blooms wonderfully here in North Texas, and mostly likely will do so in any area that enjoys a warm climate of at least 4 months in duration. The Moonflower Vine is considered a tropical annual in areas north of  US Planting Zone 10 and does best in a mostly sunny location.  While it will tolerate full sun, I have found my plantings do best if they receive about a 3-4 hour reprieve from the summer sun at some point during the day.  I plant my vine in a full sun setting, but on the eastern-facing side of my fence so that as the sun sets in the west, the vine receives a shade break in the late afternoon.  As the vine grows over the fence (and it certainly will) the other portion of the vine will receive its fair share of rest from the sun's heat as well.  While the Moonflower Vine is fairly drought tolerant once it is established, in the heat of the Texas summer it will need an added drink of water every now and then to perk up its leaves!  

For best results, the Moonflower Vine should be sown directly in the ground in an area where you can attach a trellis or stake a large (5-6 foot) garden obelisk, both which will help the vine get a good climbing start.  Once it sprouts and begins to twine, the vine will naturally wrap and drape in a very attractive manner - you need to do nothing more!



Probably the most difficult aspect of growing Moonflower Vine is germinating the seeds - and it truly isn't difficult once you understand the plant's needs.   First of all, the seeds will not germinate outdoors until the soil is consistently warm.  Thus, after you've decided upon a location to plant your vine and have constructed your trellis or other support, do not sow the seeds until temperatures are consistently in the 70's - usually around late April/early May in North Texas. 

Secondly, the coat of the Moonflower Vine seed is very hard and will need a little kick-start to get it going.  In order to assist the seeds in germinating, you should graze them with a fingernail file until you have slightly penetrated the seed coat (takes about 5 seconds).  This is called scarification and when it occurs naturally (through wind, rain, floods, and sometimes, fire); it is part of a biological protection in plants.  You see, until the conditions are favorable for a plant to survive, some seeds will not germinate - oftentimes for years!  

After manually scarifying them, place the nicked seeds in a cup of water for a day or two.  Once the seeds have "plumped" up, they will be ready for planting!   Plant the seeds at about one inch in depth, again, directly in the ground, as while some folks have had fair success with sowing Moonflower in large pots, the vine usually grows quite weak and has fewer blooms when confined to a planter.  

Don't be alarmed if you plop a few seeds close together in the soil, you can always thin the seedlings later.  Also, don't be discouraged if it takes a couple of weeks before you see any green popping through the dirt.   As I mentioned earlier, Moonflower seedlings will not emerge until the temperature is just right, but when they do, they will really take off.  Another way the Moonflower Vine tests our patience is it will not produce its first flower for a couple of months, usually around early July in North Texas - but believe me - the wait is well worth it!  By August, the vine is usually bursting with bright white at night.

This weekend, I plan to complete my harvest of seed from last year's vines. (See pic below.)  If any of my subscribers have an interest, I'll be happy to send you a few seeds - and if I run out, I'll gladly "spring" (there goes another pun!) for a package or two from the nursery to be sure everyone is covered.  Of course, if my blog subscriptions go viral because of this freebie then I may have to go to Plan C - but that may not necessarily be a bad thing!   In the meantime, just shoot me your mailing address in the comment section below and I'll happily share one of my favorite things with you! 

Have a "taste of spring" weekend!
Cindy

I checked with the USPS and I can only send seeds to folks within the 48 contiguous United States.  Also, please don't worry; I will not publish your mailing address. However, if you wish to leave additional comments for readers, be sure to send a separate post! 

  Moonflower Seed 2011


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Comments

  • 2/26/2011 11:11 AM Dee Dee wrote:
    Great info and very interesting post! Thank you for reminding me of this wonderful plant...my first attempt at growing them was successful several years ago (from seeds you gave me!) and they are also one of my favorites. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this information!
  • 4/3/2011 10:14 PM Marvin White wrote:
    I love your website. I can remember as a child my mom's moonflowers and their beauty. I wish I was as a prolific writer as you!
    1. 4/4/2011 7:12 AM Cindy wrote:
      Thank you, Marvin. I appreciate that you enjoy my site. I took a look at yours at my-garden-world and boy, you've got a great one! Best, Cindy
  • 4/17/2011 1:58 PM Teressa wrote:
    Thanks for the info Cindy, I would like to make an entire bed of night bloomers, and I am collecting as much info as possible to do just that, soon. Teressa
    1. 4/18/2011 7:55 AM Cindy wrote:
      I think that is a wonderful idea! You will be surprised about how wonderful the frangrances are with night bloomers! I know there are many, inlcuding a "moonflower plant" - Datura.   Let me know how your garden grows!
  • 10/10/2011 11:57 AM lynn wrote:
    I, like you, love my moonflowers. I have a side porch and by July it becomes "screened" in. I just love it. It also helps to keep the hot afternoon sun from baking my kitchen. I usually buy a packet of seed each year and have had great results germinating, etc. I thought this year I would wise up and actually harvest my pods. I live in PA, when and how. Do I dry them in the pod or out? Would appreciate any advice you could give me. I have found conflicting info on the web. thanks
    1. 10/10/2011 4:24 PM Cindy wrote:
      Hi Lynn!  I am so glad to hear of another person that enjoys the vine as much as I do!   It is indeed my favorite! 

      I will be happy to tell you how I harvest my seed.  I have always harvested it as it dried on the vine, so I do not know whether or not you would have any success taking the pods off and drying them after being separated from the vine.  My best guess is that method may not work. 

      Although I usually have quite a few good seed each year, at least half of what I pick will not be viable - they'll either be mildewed or rotted before I can get to them or perhaps rainwater simply invaded those pods.   While it may not be attractive, I'd leave the vine on your screened porch to dry and wait until you notice the seed pods have become brown and brittle.  I usually feel the pod to see if it will crumble when slightly touched.  If so, this is the time to harvest.  I simply crush the pod and the hard seed remains.  Good, viable seed will be yellow to bright white in color and as hard as a rock.  That which is soft, blackish-brown, and/or has mildew on it is not worth saving. 
       
      Once you harvest the good seed, let it air out a bit on a counter or otherwise and then place in a dry area (such as in an envelope or container in a drawer inside the home.)

      Best wishes and I hope in PA you can hold onto the vine until it becomes dry and brittle.  With your winters, I do not know if snow will affect the drying process or not.  Hopefully a few pods will pull through for you!  If not, send me a note and I'll send you some!

      Cindy

       

      1. 10/10/2011 4:42 PM Cindy wrote:
        One more thing, I noticed you specifically asked about leaving the seed inside the pod to dry or taking the seed out.  I have never tried taking the seed out of the pods prematurely and drying them so I do not know if that method would work.  Here in Texas, I typically have enough good seed that dries in the pods on the vine.   You know, you might try a few both ways and see what happens . . . then let me know! 
        1. 10/11/2011 7:50 AM Lynn wrote:
          Cindy,
          I think I have enough pods to try a few methods. Worst case...I can just buy the seeds. Because of our harsh winters, we probably will have a couple of frosts before my vines can dry out, but I will give it a shot. Maybe I can brown bag a few mature ones and keep in the sun to speed up the the process. Thanks for your response. Things are starting to dry and get brown here. Because of the colorful foliage it is one last perk before winter sets in.
  • 10/12/2011 6:17 PM Theresa wrote:
    Are you still sending people your moonflower seeds? If so could you send some to me?
    1. 10/12/2011 8:00 PM Cindy wrote:
      Sure thing!  Just shoot me your address and I'll send them your way.  I will not publish your comment and will delete after I send the seed.
  • 6/19/2012 11:36 AM Amy wrote:
    Hi Cindy, do you still offer free seeds?
    1. 6/25/2012 8:37 PM Cindy wrote:
      Hi there.  Sorry for the delay, I've been out of town.  I do not have any seed from my vine (drought last year affected my flowers).  However I'd be very happy to send you a packet or two.  If you'll pass along your mailing address, I'll send them this week.  I will not publish your info -

      Thanks!

  • 8/5/2012 3:44 PM Lyn Walters wrote:
    Hello,

    I hope that this offer is still valid. I cannot afford much, but will be glad to reimburse you for any seeds you can send me. I live in senior low-income housing in Missouri and am desperate for a fast growing vine. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. I am also hoping to be able to find a place to purchase mountain laurel when I can find one.

    TY for your blog and your kindness.

    LW
    1. 8/6/2012 7:34 AM Cindy wrote:
      Thank you!  I've sent you a private email to provide me your address.  I'll be happy to send a packet to you.  Best wishes!  Cindy
  • 8/24/2012 2:23 PM Carmen wrote:
    Good Day Cindy : first year growing the moon flower - bought 2 seedlings at a farmers market - in NH - however one is on a trellis and is growing and wraping itself and I have managed to guided if you will - no buds or blossoms as if yet - should I wait - the gardenis locaed in central Ma? the other seedling is not on a trellis and is also growing - although one of the steam broke off trying to guided to a home made trellis but still going -
    Should I just be a bit more patient ? for the buds and blooms ?
    Thank you - comment once you have the chance

    Carmen
    1. 8/24/2012 5:22 PM Cindy wrote:
      Hello Carmen:

      Yes, please do give them a little more time.  Hopefully you will have about four - six weeks of relatively warm weather still in the future.  Here in north Texas, the moonflower vines actually do their best in the late summer/early fall.  I typically do not see blooms at all until July and they really don't begin to bloom their best until late August and September.   You will see quite a bit of green on the vine and then one day, or night I should say, you may find a blossom deep inside the vine.  However the blooms are quite large and should be somewhat visible no matter how deep in the vine they are.  Keep a close eye out as your vine climbs and look for swirled greenish-white buds.  Unfortunately the blooms only untwirl once each for a one night opening.  But, once your vines mature, they will produce more and more blooms.  Regarding the vine that snapped, it should continue to grow, so don't give up on it yet.   

      Best wishes and let me know how it goes!
      Cindy 

      1. 10/5/2012 12:41 PM Carmen wrote:
        Thank you Cindy for replying to my note about the moon flower -
        There are some smallist buds on the vine but the temps here are cooling down a bit .... where I am not near the vine during the week - the weekends where I am there - has not been able to see if indeed these budss open up ... will try to check this weekend as we go back - the one seedling that broke off ... is fine - the only concern is the cool - cold temps ... what are your thoughs ...

        Thank you!

        Carmen
        1. 10/5/2012 3:07 PM Cindy wrote:
          I would leave the vine as is during the cool weather and see if you find a bloom or two has opened up.  Check for them at dawn as they'll still be open before the sun hits them.  I typically leave my vine on the fence until it dries up.  If you aren't too particular about the look of dried leaves on your fence or trellis, leave it on until it is brown and crunchy dry.  Then look where the blooms were (hopefully) and you'll see seed pods.  If you indeed have seed pods then of course you surely had blooms!  The seed pods, when good and dry and crunchy will have formed one to four hard white seeds . . . 

          Good luck and keep me informed!

          Cindy 

  • 9/30/2012 1:32 PM Gamermomma wrote:
    Hello! I cam across this article after my sister and I were trying to find out what flower was blooming in my flower bed. We just moved into this house in the spring but haven't done anything to the beds. I had morning glory vines pop out of nowhere when summer started and today noticed bigger white flowers with blue streaks. I believe this is the Moonflower you are talking about, so I was wondering if they are a cousin of the Morning Glory would they make the my Moonflowers have the blue streaks? They are growing together ( I didn't plant them and the bed was empty when we bought the house) and I actually thought it was one of the morning glories... I just wanted to know your thoughts on it! thanks!
    1. 10/4/2012 4:36 PM Cindy wrote:
      Hello -   Yes, Moonflowers are indeed cousins of Morning Glories!  I'm not quite sure they can cross pollinate or that Moonflowers are of any true color than pure white.  I think perhaps you may have an interesting variation of your original Morning Glory growing there.  If you do an Internet search for Heavenly Blue Morning Glory, you'll find quite a few images, some of which show flowers of very pale blue with dark blue stripes.  I'm glad you found my site and I look forward to hearing more about your vine -
      Cindy 

      1. 10/4/2012 5:51 PM Gamermomma wrote:
        I looked up the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory and I do have those, I also have purple ones that grow on the same vine. The moonflowers though are almost 3 times the size of those morning glories, have the heart shaped leaves (as opposed to the morning glories that have 3 lobes) and are mostly white...just just look like someone painted streaks with a small paint brush. I do have a few pics on my blog, but they aren't the best...have actually had more bloom every day since then. They look like all the other pictures of moonflowers I have seen except for the varying blue streaks. Either way they are beautiful and feel luck to have them in my flower bed!
        1. 10/5/2012 3:03 PM Cindy wrote:
          Wow.  I checked out your blog and saw the photos.  You do have an interesting variety to say the least!   I did a little more research, since this is quite a puzzle.  See what you think about them being "Flying Saucers" - http://www.outsidepride.com/seed/flower-seed/morning-glory/morning-glory-flying-saucers.html

          Very neat blog you have, btw!

          Cindy

          1. 10/6/2012 7:32 PM Gamermomma wrote:
            Those might be it...the flying saucers...though a great many of the blooms are very light colored. I saw one today that had the palest baby blue "star" in the center and the rest was white. The unopened blooms do look like the on in the above link picture though..

            I am curious though...my FIL has a bird feeder about 10 feet away from this bed that we have corn and sunflowers growing from...could these seeds be in the bird feed and the birds scatter them? They aren't around the feeder - but I am wondering why they even showed up at all!

            Thank you for all your time on this! I may have to post more pictures on my blog for you to see them. The blooms don't seem to last very long, though.

            Thanks for the complement on my blog!!
  • 1/22/2013 12:05 AM Alisa wrote:
    Did you know that moonflower is used in some of the most expensive perfumes?
    1. 1/25/2013 2:33 PM Cindy wrote:
      I did not know this, but I am not surprised.  Their aroma is intoxicating!    Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us -
      Best,
      Cindy

  • 3/23/2013 10:29 AM KK wrote:
    THANK YOU! I've been having trouble growing these for two years now. I have not been doing TWO very important steps. The scarification and soaking. I've already planted two packs of seeds this year hoping the weather here in N. TX would "stay warm" but it looks as if we have a few more cold days headed this way this week. I will purchase another couple packs of seeds and give it another shot...the trellis is waiting, and so am I! Thank you again!
    1. 3/25/2013 3:39 PM Cindy wrote:
      You are very welcome and I certainly hope you have great success this year.  (I think you will!)
  • 4/22/2013 8:50 PM Elaina wrote:
    I'm really confused and I'm thinking you can help me - is there a difference between moonvine and moon flower? I thought what you have described above was the moon flower....I need help as you can see!! Thanks!!!
    1. 4/22/2013 9:33 PM Cindy wrote:
      Hi there! Excellent question and  I can certainly understand the confusion! 

      Datura is another wonderful nightblooming plant (shrub or bush) that produces beautiful white flowers and oftentimes its blooms are called moonflowers as well.  The blooms look very similar to those of the Moonflower Vine (except they are more trumpet-like).  In addition, sometimes folks call the blooms of the shrub Angel's Trumpet moonflowers too!  Angel's Trumpet flowers, however, hang downward like pendulums.    

      The pictures on my blog and what I describe are of the Moonflower Vine, or, scientific name, Ipomoea alba.  

      Below is a blog post I found on the web that is a bit testy (but in a humorous way) however the author does an excellent job of differentiating between all the above! 

      http://voices.yahoo.com/angel-trumpets-moonflowers-morning-glories-jimsonweed-5336651.html?cat=32

      Best to you and thanks for reading -
      Cindy 

  • 5/15/2013 5:15 PM Susie O'Brien wrote:
    Hi! I'm from Minnesota visiting in East Texas, and my sweet sister-in-law has just introduced me to Moonflowers. I am absolutely dazzled!Is there any chance I can grow them in Minnesota? If it is possible, is there any chance you still have a packet of seeds? I really hope to be able to give them a try .... maybe mixed with some morning glories. Thanks for all of your helpful info!
    1. 5/16/2013 9:01 PM Cindy wrote:
      Hi!  I will be happy to send you seed!  Please send your address and I'll get them to you.  (I will not publish.). I think if you have a warm, sunny spot to plant them, Moonflowers will do well in MN.  Mixing them with Morning Glories will give you blooms day and night.  Moonflowers might take a tad longer to sprout (be sure to nick and soak them) but by mid-July you should have flowers.  Thank you for your interest!
  • 9/10/2013 11:45 AM Gloria Fazio wrote:
    I love your site on the moon flowers I love the way they look. They are a very beautiful looking flower. Thank you for sharing all this information.
    1. 9/20/2013 7:15 AM Cindy wrote:
      Thank you.  I am so glad you enjoyed it.  I hope you give Moonflowers a try!
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