Growing moonflower vines, or any flowers that really puts on a show, is pure joy for gardeners. My first year growing moonflowers, I was in awe at how beautiful and large the blooms were and decided I wanted to grow them each year! So how do you grow a moonflower vine and how should you care for moonflowers?
What is a moonflower?
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is a unique annual vine that produces a large fragrant white bloom. Part of its uniqueness is due to the time of day in which the bloom opens—at dusk. These large white flowers twirl open and glisten in the dark under the light of the moon.
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Moonflower a the night-blooming cousin of the morning glory, which produces blooms at sunrise. The vines are easy to grow and will provide a fragrant show each summer night while the sun is setting.
Preparing moonflower seeds
Moonflower seeds are very hard and will need to undergo a stratification process before planting. (Eden Brothers Organic has a good selection of moonflower seeds as does True Leaf Market!) Stratification refers to softening a hard seed coat so water can enter to promote germination.
There are a few different methods for this including cold stratification, which you can see here in MiGardener’s video, or you can use the process of scarification, which is what I recommend for moonflower seeds.
It’s a simple process that involves nicking the outer seed coat with a knife or similar sharp object, then soaking the seeds overnight in warm water. Don’t be intimidated by this step; the results are totally worth the effort! And this is very similar to what I do with other “tougher” seeds like pumpkin seeds.
When to plant moonflower
Plant moonflower seeds directly in the garden soil or 12-inch deep container in mid-spring when temperatures are consistently 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Plant seeds 1/4-inches deep and 12-inches apart. Vines need to be grown in a sunny location with well-draining soil. Also consider where you’re planting, since a moonflower vine will need support to attach to.
Caring for moonflower plants
Once your plants are in the ground and growing, be sure to not feed moonflowers with any type of fertilizer, neither organic nor synthetic. Feeding these plants will result in an abundance of leaves and very few blooms, and we’re growing them for the blooms, right?
Water the moonflower vines regularly until seeds have germinated and the plants are established. Then apply 1-inch of water a week during times of drought.
Moonflowers are self-seeding, which can be a great thing. Remove spent blooms before the seeds mature to prevent them from becoming overcrowded.
If you’re interested in saving moonflower seeds, be sure to check what variety you’re growing, since some types aren’t as reliable for seed saving purposes. Check out Gardening Know How’s article on How to Save Moonflower Seeds.
How to trellis moonflower vines
Moonflower vines are overachievers and will reach a mature length of 20-feet. The vines will twine their way around anything near them, so it’s a great idea to provide a trellis or other support system for them to climb on. I personally love this garden obelisk from Amazon, and it is super cost efficient and beautiful!
Along a fence, up a porch post, or across an arbor or pergola are also some great ideas for providing support to long moonflower vines. They are such stunning blooms, that wherever you decide to grow your moonflowers, they’ll be beautiful.
Different varieties of moonflowers
Moonflower varieties are very similar- all develop long vines and fragrant flowers that open at dusk. The bloom colors are white or purple and the petals will be heart or star-shaped, so choose the variety that suits your fancy.
Moonflowers pair well with their morning glory cousins to create a garden that blooms day and night. Star jasmine and flowering tobacco also produce vines with white blooms and will create an after-dark glowing effect in the garden when planted near moonflowers.
- Do moonflowers come back every year? Most varieties are self-seeding, so while they are typically seen as an annual, the seeds from last year’s plants may germinate on their own.
- Can moonflowers be grown in pots? Absolutely! Choose a container that is at least 12 inches deep and plant away!
- Do moonflowers bloom only once? Typically, yes. A moonflower will bloom and then that bud will be spent. There should be other buds along your moonflower vine.
Have some insight on growing and caring for moonflowers? Share it with our gardening community by leaving a comment below!