Thursday, October 8, 2009

Moonflower



This unique and beautiful vine has been a success this year. I have grown it in the past but I have always put it in places where you couldn't see it easily. Since it is an evening blooming vine, it is not wise to put it on the other side of your lower 40 for viewing pleasure. I also find it sad that a plant might be blooming but there is no audience to enjoy the blooms. But I digress.

This year I planted the seeds next to a gate right next to the street. I can see the blooms from our kitchen window and when I wander out into the vegetable garden to pick tomatoes or cut some herbs for supper, the blooms have opened. The blooms usually stay open late into the morning (especially with all the cloudiness we've had lately), so I see them as I'm heading off to work.

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is a tropical beauty and is a perennial in warmer regions. It loves the heat and it usually doesn't begin to bloom until very late in the summer. Therefore, it is advisable to plant the seeds early. It is a relative of the morning glory and I've heard people suggest that you should plant them together to enjoy the morning glory blooms during the day and the moonflower blooms at night. I have to pass on this suggestion because I refuse to grow morning glory. I think they are absolutely beautiful but they pop up all over the place and it isn't fun pulling them out of your perennial borders in the middle of August.

I've learned some interesting facts about moonflower. They say that people used to have parties when the vines started to bloom. I don't recall ever hearing anyone do this, it had to have been a nineteenth century thing. It sounds like fun though, doesn't it?

I also learned - and I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know it (I suppose I'm not a very observant gardener) - that the blooms open in less than 30 seconds so you have to be on your toes to see them unfurl. I'm guessing this is where the parties come in?

The seeds are tough and should be soaked overnight in water before planting. Plant them in a sunny location near an archway, a trellis, fence or other type of structure. The vines will climb into trees which is really not good because the blooms will be so high up that you can't enjoy them. Vines can grow quickly up to 20 feet and the leaves are large enough to provide good shade. The flowers are pure white and fragrant and large (up to 6"-8" inches across).


26 comments:

  1. Hello Phillip, I am trying to get up the nerve to try one of these next year; I have never grown one. My hesitation is due to the fact I'm not sure what it can climb on. I do not have a good place for it in the area it needs to be. I may just let it clamber about on a low stone wall at the head of the driveway. Then we will see it often. Yours is beautiful!

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  2. Don't feel bad about not knowing that the flower opens so quickly. Any reason for a party I always say.

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  3. I have considered planting one to replace a morning glory vine--just for a little change. The trouble is the Japanese beetles eat morning glories so I assume they will eat this too.
    Marnie

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  4. What a beautiful photo!

    I have a huge hitching-post style trellis in our Lower 40 (which is precisely what we call that area of the garden) that held a Spanish Beauty rose until I accidentally cut it back last year. I planted moonflower and morning seeds there in May. It's the only area that gets full sun, and also I knew that the next-door neighbors would be able to see it from their deck. The morning glories did well. (The area is wild, and I rather hope they'll re-seed.) The moonflowers finally started blooming in mid August, but I'm only getting 2 blooms at a time for some reason. Last week we got a heavy rain and the trellis fell over ... it was completely rotted at the ground. But the moonflowers are still blooming. Maybe next year I'll plant them at the nearby hedge/fence.

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  5. Hi Phillip~~ I imagine the 19th century dwellers didn't have a surplus of entertainment options. LOL

    I've tried growing Moonflower, two years in a row but it never did bloom.

    Just the opposite with the Morning Glory. I grew it two summers ago and I'm STILL picking seedlings. NEVER AGAIN. Sorry. I lost control for a second.

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  6. It's gorgeous. Pristine white!
    I'm going to look for it here. thanks for posting.

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  7. Gorgeous photos of the flowers! I love moon vine, but the deer love to eat them, so I've only grown it once. This year, I'm using hyacinth bean vines on the fence and some of the foliage was eaten, but none of the blooms.

    Cameron

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  8. I love these beauties...and they smell delicious. I have them planted near the front door. I might have to plant them near the porch and have a party next year. Thank you for the great idea! ..I'll let you both know if and when! gail

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  9. I've never grown one of these.

    I bet the white just glows in the evening. Probably when you finish reading this you'll miss a bud opening!

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  10. Simply beautiful! I would love to see one of those flowers open!

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  11. Sounds like a good excuse for a party! Those are gorgeous photos.

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  12. Hello Phillip, when I read this I find it hard to believe! I say to my self this just isn't possible...fragrant too. I got to try to grow some next year I always wanted to have a moon-garden and this moonflower is a great way to start.

    Greetings from Tyra in Vaxholm

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  13. Absolutely beautiful! And it looks so perfect against your iron gate, with the house in the background!

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  14. We are enjoying our moonflowers. On these cloudy days we've been having lately they will open up in the afternoon. They seem to be a late season performer as they really didn't put on much growth until late July and August.

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  15. Love that first photo Phillip. I find it hard to get a good pic of them because of all the whiteness.

    I was initially going to grow morning glory and moonflower together on a teepee but yanked the morning glory out at the last moment, fearing self-seeding. But I'm also kind of fearing that for the moonflower. Do you know if it might do that? I keep clipping the fat seedheads off but now there's too many.

    My moonflower has been blooming like crazy since August but I noticed just yesterday it's slowed way down. We just had a big wind and rain storm here and it looks like the top of the teepee has been hammered. But it's been nice while it lasted!

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  16. Hi Jean, I haven't noticed moonflower self-seeding but if I do, I'll let you know!

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  17. Geez, mine did not germinate this year, will try again...I don't mind too much the pulling of the morning glory volunteers...

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  18. Well Phillip you sure win for the most beautiful portrait of a moonflower I have ever seen... and you capture the utter magic of it... floating in the night. Lovely! Moonflower parties sound good to me... and I have enjoyed watching them open ... it is pretty fast but lots of time to take pics. I love the subtle green lines inside that lead down to the nectaries and that delicious fragrance. Love both your photos but the first has my heart. Great post! Carol

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  19. I've been confused about Moonflowers and Morning Glories and thought they might be the same thing. I'm afraid of Morning Glories here, they will take over. I'd love to try the Moonflower, it's so pretty. I saw a video somewhere recently of one opening but I thought it was a time lapse video. I didn't know they opened that fast.

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  20. I've grown them in the past but forgot them this year. There is really nothing like the smell and the rapidly-opening, stunningly white blooms!

    Love the new fall header!

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  21. Phillip,

    A garden wouldn't be a garden without these beautiful flowers. We have them climbing up to our screened in porch and along the ramp to the house.

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  22. Indeed a magical flower, Phillip ... stunning photos ... you have captured them beautifully!

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  23. So pure and why didn't I plant these again this year? The garden got away from me but thanks for this reminder and will there be a party invitation in the mail?

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  24. It doesn't get warm enough in my garden to grow this beautiful vine, but I'm thinking about planting it in a pot on the roof and and letting scramble over the deck.

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  25. I have a little area that I'd like to designate for white flowers- and where I'll eventually build the patio for evening dining- and a moonflower is on my list!

    Oh- I pulled out the Morning Glory. You're right, it spreads, and I read it's actually on Georgia's noxious plant list!

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  26. Do they live in texas? Oh and do they bloom every night? Im doing something for school and Im taking a video of it blooming. Need some facts!!!

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