Thursday, September 6, 2012

Moon Flowers

Moon Flower
(Ipomoea alba

I am fascinated by flowers that bloom at night and also by fragrant flowers. The lovely Moon Flower meets both those requirements as a plant worthy of my garden.

Moon flowers open in the evening, not to please me (imagine that!) but so they can be pollinated by night-flying moths. Like most moth-pollinated flowers, the moon flower is white, which attracts moths. The sweet perfume they emit also serve to attract the night pollinator. 

I have not been fortunate enough to see one of those night-flying pollinators this year, but have in the past. The moon flowers are planted on a little arbor on the far side of my yard, so it's more difficult to walk out after dark and spend time there waiting. Next year, I will plant this vine nearer my back door.

After sunset, the huge white flowers bloom and glow all night in the moonlight. Then, as the sun rises, they close their fragrant blooms and drop off the vine, to be replaced by other blooms that evening.

Moon flower is a close relative of the morning glory, which opens in the morning so it can be pollinated by bees and other insects that are active during the day. 

On a warm summer night, moon flowers can open in a matter of several minutes.

Moon flowers are a vining plant, and the books say they can grow as much as 12-18 feet in a single year. Mine definitely has met and exceeded that, wrapping itself around this metal arbor in my backyard. While perennial in their native tropical homes, they are an annual in cold areas. 

The blooms actually do glow in the late evening and the moonlight.

How to Grow Moonflower Plants:

Moon flower plants like full to partial sun during the daylight hours. They thrive in poor, dry soils. That makes them useful in areas where many other popular plants just won't grow. It also makes them easy to grow with little care or attention. 

Add mulch around the plants for appearance and to keep weeds down. The books state fertilizer is usually not needed, but I do apply liquid fertilizer and believe I get more blooms for doing so.

Moonflower are susceptible to frost. They may survive the first light frost with only a little damage. Moonflowers are most often planted near a house or building. So, a light frost may kill the plants away from the house, yet spare your Moonflowers for another day. They will not survive a hard frost or freeze. 

Insect and Disease:
Insects and disease problems are not a major problem. If problems occur, treat early with organic or chemical insect repellents and fungicide.

One reason for being sad to see summer go is having to say goodbye to moon flowers.F


  1. Those Moon Flowers are amazing. I love them climbing all over that arbor. They only live just the one night? Could make for quite the clean-up. I never thought of moths are pollinators.

  2. There is something mysterious about beautiful white flowers with a delicate scent in the semi darkness of a garden.

    As always great photos. Ida

    1. Thanks, Ida. I love my Moon Flowers; mysterious, yes!

  3. Oh how beautiful that gazebo/arbor looks with the climbing Moon Flowers!
    White is the other of of my two favorite colors on flowers, and these are perfect.
    How lucky you are to have such a variety of flowers over there!

    1. The glow of the flowers at night and the scent are enough to fill anyone with delight. White is my favorite flower color too!

    Wonderful photos!!!!

    1. Seems I'm taken with taking pictures of flowers!


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