Gardeners are creatures of habit, it is only the changing seasons that give our garden activities variety. And like all creatures of habit we collect favorite tools, seeds, and even favorite methods and motions as we happily plod through garden chores. To the casual observer, we may not appear locked into our set ways. But there is one favorite that always gives us away, our favorite plants!
There are those few plants a gardener plants year after year. One of those plants, for me, are my most cherished moonflower vines. For moonflowers to grace my patio rail in summer, the young plants must first scale a four feet high brick wall to reach the railing. They cannot do this alone, and this wall must be crossed and covered will foliage before the summer sun makes the bricks too hot for vines and leaves. For moonflowers to grace the patio rail in summer, the planting should be soon after night temperatures are over fifty degrees. Ipomea alba is a tropical plant and cool nights will stunt or kill young moonflower plants.
Growing the Vines from Seed
Moonflower seeds are large, almost a quarter of an inch and may be brownish to white. To speed germination, each seed should be scratched with sand paper, nail file, or nicked with a knife. This step allows moisture to penetrate the seed. Seeds can be soaked in water for 24 hours or planted directly into pots and watered thoroughly. The seed leaves will begin to break the soil surface in about two weeks. Plants will need to grow in a warm sunny spot until ready for planting outside.
When to Plant Moonflower Vines Outside
When spring has definitely sprung and the soil and night temperatures are safely I the fifties; it is time for the moonflowers to be planted. This is in early May here in Virginia, when it is safe outside for tomato and pepper plants, moonflower will be safe out also. To encourage growth where it is wanted, hanging string will give the young vines support as they grow upwards. To support the rapid growth in early summer and encourage many flowers, I add about three tablespoons for organic fertilizer around each plant. Plants are spaced about one foot apart to insure thick foliage and flowers.
Vines will have to be pinched and tucked back to keep them on the rail, and to keep them from encroaching on patio furniture like kudzu. Flowers begin in late summer and continue until frost. They only come out at night, so that is when their fragrant beauty is worth staying up to experience.
How to Care for Moonflower Vines
The plants love sun, so be sure to plant them in partial to full sun. They are fast-growing vines which love to grow up towards the moon. It is imperative to plant them where they have room to grow and spread.
Luckily, they don’t require the best soil, and can often thrive in places where it is difficult to grow other plants. Moonflowers are highly susceptible to freezing and hard frosts. For this reason, they can be grown from Spring to Fall. Typically they require little care & attention, and are perfect for beginner to expert growers. Just be sure to tuck and pinch back the vines if they start to overgrow the areas you want them in.