moonflower vine

How to Grow and Care for Moonflower Vines (Ipomoea alba)

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Ipomoea alba, commonly known as the Moonflower, is a vine with white fragrant flowers and heart-shaped leaves. From its scientific name, alba is Latin for white. This is an easy way to remember its flowers being white.

The unique appearance of the vine and how the flowers bloom during sunset and in full bloom at night will surely catch your attention. Also, its flowers will surely make the ambiance of any space better, as long as it is properly grown and maintained. 

Below are the details you need to optimize your moonflower’s potential. 

Botanical Information

The Moonflower, Ipomoea alba formerly known as Calonyctic aculeatum, also comes by the names tropical white morning-glory, thornapple, giant white moonflower, evening glory, devil’s trumpet, moon creeper, jimsonweed, and moon vines.

It comes from the Convolvulaceae family and is native in North America, South America, and Central America. USDA zones 10 to 12 is where this plant flourishes best. 

Leaves

The shape of the vine’s leaves adds to its overall aesthetic. Having green leaves that can grow up to 8 inches and takes a shape that resembles a heart makes moonflower vine more appealing to people. 

moonflowers

Flowers

The flower of moonflower has elongated petals that are merged in the base. As one of the common types of white flowers, it is a white slender tube-like flower that forms a star-like pattern by the petals’ intersection when viewed from above. The star formed is noticeable because of its slightly yellowish pigment. Also, the fragrant and showy flowers help improve the overall aesthetics of any landscape. 

Fruit and Seeds

The fruit of the vine is a brow capsule-like fruit with an inch-long pointed tip. Inside it are four white smooth seeds. The seed of Ipomoea is made up of a hard seed coat. Hence, in germinating the seeds some pre-planting activities should be taken into account.

Growth and Development

This semi-annual vine does not require much attention as it can grow on its own with the help of its modified tuberous roots and its vast production of seeds. 

In a year, the moonflower vine can grow for more than 12 feet. Generally, the plant can grow 3 to 6 feet wide and 10 to 15 feet in height. In addition, flowers bloom during the months of June to October or during Summer and Fall. 


moonflower vine

How to Care for Moonflower Plant

Sun Requirement

Due to its versatility as a vine, it can withstand full sunlight. However, in places wherein exposure to full sunlight is not available, making it bloom will require at least 6 hours of continuous exposure to full sunlight.

Water Requirements

Watering should be done in moderate amounts because overwatering can easily cause root rot. To check whether the soil is moist enough, bury your finger at least an inch deep. Then, check if there are soil particles attached to your finger upon removal from the soil.

If there are little to none, it is time to water the plant because the moonflower vines can only withstand drought in short periods.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

As a plant that loves to be exposed fully under the sun, it grows best in warm and humid zones, 

Fertilizer

If the goal is for the vine to produce more flowers, it is recommended to apply fertilizers that are rich in phosphorus. On the other hand, if the goal is to develop more foliage, nitrogen-rich fertilizers can be applied. Fertilizer application can be done monthly or as instructed on the product label.

Soil Requirements

The moonflower’s growth can be optimized by planting it on soils that can hold enough moisture and have good drainage. Also, a neutral to acidic soil is favorable for its growth.

Propagation

Pollens of the flower are thought to be spread by night-flying moths, specifically the large luna moth. The flower and the insect’s long straw-like mouthpart make them compatible. 

As the seeds are produced, their hard seed coat can hinder their germination. Hence, stratification can be done to hasten germination. Slightly scarring the seed coat by clipping it or rub it against sandpaper to make a small opening. Make sure that it is too big which would damage the whole seed, but big enough to serve as a point of entry for water.

After doing so, it is best to plant the seeds in slightly moist soil placed under indirect sunlight but is warm. Most gardeners plant the seedlings indoors in a container during fall but some do it in spring. Transplanting will be done when the plant’s stem is strong enough to endure outside conditions. 

Common Pests and Control Measures

Common Insect Pests

Some of the common insect pests for the moonflowers are hornworms, spider mites, leafminers, Japanese beetles, and aphids. The said insects can cause stunted growth and holes in different parts of the plant. 

Control Measures

Insect Pests can be controlled using different insecticides, such as those with active ingredients like azadirachtin and pyrethrins. If the infestation is still low, using soap and oil to clean infected areas can be done. 

Make sure to regularly check the moonflower plant and the surrounding vegetation for signs of infestation.

Potential Harm

According to the USDA, the vine did not classify as invasive in any state. However, if grown in a garden with other plants, make sure to prune regularly and remove dead flowers and other plant parts. In doing so, the risk of being a competition will be lessened. 

Landscape Uses

The shape and color of the flowers and leaves of moonflowers can add color to the landscape by incorporating it with different man-made structures such as walls, fences, decks, trellises, and gates. It can also be planted in containers or hanging pots.

As one of the beautiful night flowers, it can be placed in the area of the landscape that people use during the late afternoon to night for them to appreciate the beauty of its flowers.

Moonflower Look-Alikes

Similar to the moonflower, Datura innoxia or also known as Downy Thorn Apple can be an alternative. Unlike the Ipomoea, it is a herb that can grow up to 1 meter in height. Another difference that they have is their leaves. The downy thorn apple has simple elliptic leaves with gray trichomes or tiny hairs. 

From the same family, Ipomoea leptophylla, known as Bush Moon Flower, and Ipomoea violacea are some of the moonflower’s twin sisters. The only difference is that the bush moonflower and morning glory has purple-colored flowers and are perennial plants. 

FAQs

If you love moon vine, check these fast growing flowering vines you can plant.

*image by wiro.klyngz/depositphotos

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