A Complete Guide to the Moonflower

5 min read

The moonflower, also called the tropical white morning-glory, is a plant that blooms at night—hence its name! The flower is native to tropical areas that include South America, Mexico, and the United States. The plant is known for its white petals that slowly open as dark sets in. When daylight comes back, the long and thin petals curl back in and close upon itself as it waits for the night again. It is a fascinating flower that you should get to know better!

You can learn the following:

  • What to expect when planting a moonflower
  • How to grow a moonflower vine
  • How the plant adapts to different regions of the world
  • The toxicity of the moonflower
  • How to maintain the vine
  • The beauty and fragrance of the moonflower

What to Expect

The moonflower grows almost weed-like. It is quick to spread and can be a bit invasive if not cared for properly. Gardeners should also pay attention to the leaves of the flower. When crushed, it leaves an off-putting and robust odor that lingers in the air.

The flower is a self-seeding plant that begins from a pod with thorns. When ready, the pod opens and releases hundreds of seeds that fall to the ground and ready themselves for the following year’s growing season. Moonflowers and its seeds are poisonous, so pay special attention to where these are planted. The plant should be kept away from animals and children at all times.

Growing a Vine

A moonflower vine does not need a lot of area in the garden to grow. They are considered a vine, so the plant climbs whichever way you please. When the seeds are in the ground and sprouting, you can provide a trellis or stake for the vines to grow on. It doesn’t take much for the moonflower to grow up to 20 feet!

If you prefer the vines to grow in a downward manner, you need to pay attention as the plant gets bigger. After a couple of feet of growth, start pinching the ends of the vines and force them in the direction you want them to grow. You may need to wrap the plant along a long stake or other framing to help it along.

An Adaptable Plant

For the beginner gardener who is looking for a unique plant to include in their garden beds, try the moonflower. It is a plant that can grow almost anywhere. In addition to it being a low maintenance plant, they can grow in soil that is not so fertile.

Planting the seed is simple. You can choose to soak them in water overnight to increase germination. This part is not necessary, and the vine can grow just as well without it. Seeds should be spaced at least five inches apart in a sunny area. Create a hole a couple of inches deep, and lightly cover the seed with soil. You can apply mulch to the area as the plant is sensitive to frost. The soil should be watered at least once a week, but they can thrive in dry conditions when necessary. Fertilizer is not needed, and you can expect germination to happen around one to two weeks in.

If you decide to plant the moonflower indoors, you need to use lights to help it grow. The seeds can start in flowerpots that can be planted. The moonflower roots do not like to be bothered, so if you are planning on transferring the plant outside, you need to be extremely careful when you don’t use plantable containers.

Indoor conditions should be well ventilated to encourage growth. When the seeds have sprouted, you can start growing the vines on your chosen trellis or transfer the moonflower outside at this point.

Moonflower Toxicity

As stated previously, the moonflower plant is toxic to animals and humans. Depending on the species, the severity of the poison levels can vary. No matter which plant species you choose, it is smart to keep those who are vulnerable away from the growing vine.

When ingested, the plant can cause delirium, strange behavior, a rise in body temperature, and other startling symptoms. Some species of the plant contain scopolamine and hyoscyamine, which have been deemed by scientists not to be safe for humans. Wash your hands after you touch any part of the moonflower, including its seeds.

Proper Maintenance

If you don’t want the moonflower to grow in the same area every year, you need to clip off the blooms at the end of the season. In the fall, parts of the plant begin to wilt. By cutting these areas, you don’t give the plant a chance to release its seeds to the ground.

Depending on the hardiness zone you live in, the moonflower vine can grow year-round while in other locations, it is an annual plant. Research your region to find out what you can expect when it comes to the growing pattern of your vine.

Moonflower Fragrance and Beauty

The smell of the moonflower can best be described as deep and invigorating. In the evening, when blossoms are in full bloom, you can take in the spicy and sweet air for hours without getting tired of it. Moonflower oil is made from the vine and can be found in beauty shops around the world. Many lovers of this plant enjoy the fragrance in soaps, lotions, and perfumes.

The moonflower usually has white petals, but purple blooms can also be seen climbing around homes and buildings. The long and rounded petals resemble a trumpet when fully opened. It is easy to confuse the moonflower with its closest relative, the morning glory. The main difference between the two is when the flowers bloom.

The moonflower vine is an incredible plant that is made just for night owls. The nocturnal flower gives off a distinct smell that can’t be duplicated elsewhere. One whiff of this fast climbing plant is all you need to become an admirer of the flower instantly. As a gardener, you can appreciate the easy maintenance and carefree growing pattern that adds a touch of flair to your yard. Plant one today and enjoy the nighttime fragrance that is going to mesmerize you.