Night blooming Moonflowers originated in Southern Florida and the American tropics, where they propagate freely and are a fascination to many garden enthusiasts. Their fragrant white or purple flowers grow to about 4 to 6 inches on twining vines. The Moonflower's blue-green foliage has a smooth texture and its beauty rivals the fragrant flower. Your plant must be watered regularly, but moderately. Its growth, however, may become so prolific as to be invasive to other plants.
The lovely Moonflower, categorized as Ipomoea alba, is born into the Convolvulaceae family, and is a member of the Ipomoea genus, and the species alba. It is also known as the Moon Vine and Calonyction acurleatum, and is a relative of the Morning Glory, which is a day-bloomer. The Moon Vine and its cousin, Morning Glory, share one trait: they are both poisonous if eaten.
Growing Your Moonflower
Plant your Moonflower seeds by moonlight, spaced about 12 inches apart. Nick the seeds the night before with a small, sharp object like a file, then soak them overnight. Moonflower Vines have been reported to grow 10 to 20 feet tall. The Moonflower blooms from late spring to early winter, opening quickly in the evening and lasting through the night. The blooms remain open until touched by the morning sun, unless you have a cooler day with a few clouds, which may entice the Moonflower to stay up until noon.
Once you have a Moonflower in your garden, it self-sows if allowed. Leave old flowers on the plant in the fall to dry and drop their seeds. The white flower, open at night, attracts night-flying moths that pollinate the flowers. Its cousin, Morning Glory, is pollinated by bees during the day. The Moonflower is a perennial in the warmer zones 9, 10 and 11, where it has speedy growth. In other regions, expect it to perform as an annual with a moderate rate of growth and produce up to seven flowers per stalk, 2 to 6 inches long.
Moonflowers: Not Just for the Night
Moonflower vines are popular for landscaping. Your vines do well on canes, wires, trellises, or brushwood that allows the stems to entwine. To view the Moonflower opening, go to the Mysterious Moonflower website (moonlightsys.com).