^Ipomea alba^

Other name: Moon vine

Type: annual twiner                                                            Light Requirement:

Mature size: up to 15 feet                                                sun to partial shade           

Bloom time: mid-summer to fall                                                                       

Flower color/type: luminous white funnel                                                           

Foliage: light green                                                                                               

Features: night blooming and scented; attracts moths




Moonflower is not just another morning glory although it is a member of that family. This is the exotic, sophisticated cousin that stays up all night and closes the next day. Its white flowers are a spectacular 6 inches across where their fluted petals come to points, forming a starlike face. The show actually begins with their coiled, pointed buds that unfurl before your eyes among oversized heart-shaped rich green leaves on hot evenings. It is the centerpiece of an evening garden. Moonflower seeds are notoriously reluctant to germinate, so it gets a late start. By August, however, it twines with abandon on fences, arbors and trellises. It may the only plant needed on an apartment balcony or patio.



When to Plant

Because seedlings are tricky to transplant, moon flower is usually direct seeded into the garden. Wait until the weather has turned warm--the middle of May--to sow the seeds.



Where to Plant

Choose a sunny site that has well-drained, average garden soil. Soil that is too rich in nutrients will stimulate foliage at the expense of flowers. If it is near a doorway or an arbor so passerbys can enjoy the scent, all the better.




How to Plant

Dig down into the soil about 6 to 8 inches to loosen and aerate the soil. Mix in some organic material to improve soil drainage if necessary. Cut or scrape the hard coating on the seeds prior to planting to encourage germination. It seems to take forever, but if the soil is warm and summer is underway, they will sprout in about 2 weeks. Plant seeds in groups of 2 or 3, poking them into the soil about an inch deep. Lightly tamp the soil over them and water well.




Care and Maintenance

Moonflower vine takes care of itself very well once it is established. Do not fertilize it. Water only during periods of extended drought. Prune only if the vine has exceeded its bounds and engulfed the lawn furniture. In the fall when the frost kills it, pull down the dead stems.



Additional Information

Like most vines, moonflower useful for covering eyesores such as chain link fences, drainpipes, and utility boxes out by the front walk. Interplant it with white morning glory to enjoy continuous bloom, day and night. It will grow in a container and climb the nearest vertical support, whatever it is.



Additional Species, Cultivars or Varieties

Common Morning Glory (^Ipomea purpurea^) has similar, but smaller leaves and flowers (blue, white, pink and bicolor).

Morning glory (^Ipomea tricolor^}‘Heavenly Blue’is an All-America Selection (AAS) winner; ‘Pearly Gates’ a white flowered form. There is also a red-flowered version that has white trim.

Other, more delicate, members of the morning glory family are Cypress vine (^Ipomea quamoclit^) and Cardinal climber (^Ipomea x multifida^) which have small, red tubular flowers, and finer, cutleaf or deeply lobed foliage. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds.



Sweet potato vine (^Ipomea batatas^ ‘Blackie’) is a member of the same family as morning glory and moonflower. It is both ornamental and edible. Extremely vigorous, it bears large, 3 deeply lobed leaves of deep black-purple on tender, trailing stems. Its flowers are lavender and tubular, but are small and take a back seat to the foliage. The tuberous roots are the sweet potatoes. More interested in traveling horizontally than vertically, it makes a handsome addition to windowboxes and other containers. Versions with chartreuse and multi-colored foliage are equally decorative.


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