Add some night interest to your yard with one of the many varieties of night blooming flowers that are called moonflower or moonflower vine. Botanical names include ipomoea, datura and cereus, among others. This is a guide about growing moonflowers.
I've had moonflower vines climb my trees and attain a height of 50 feet. A lot of people who appreciate this flower may not grow them for that reason. Some may not have any structure for the vines to climb.
I have good news for those people. It may be common knowledge to many gardeners, but new to me is the fact that the vine will grow quite well, and bloom, in a container. It just occurred to me that they should do well on a trellis of 6 feet or so. I say that because once the vine has reached the desired height, it can be pruned. Cutting back the new, long runners seems to force the vine to produce even more blooms.
If you have been hesitant to grow the moonflower vine because of the heights it can reach, do know it can be kept in a container and it's ultimate height can be whatever you choose. Imagine having a pot of these on your patio, covered in blooms, and filling the air with it's heady fragrance.
Across the pond here in the UK this vine looks like our dreaded Bindweed. Once you have it in your garden it is impossible to get rid of. It is called Bindweed over here because it binds around other plants in the garden,strangles and kills them, if you ever cut it back, make sure you get every little piece.
The bindweed is classified as Convolvulaceae.
The Moonflower vine is classified as Ipomoea (Ipomoea alba).
Two different plants, entirely.
Looks can be deceiving, can't they?
Some time back, I posted a short article on how confusing some common flower names can be. The editors titled the article 'Avoiding Confusion with Common Flower Names'. My point was, sometimes one flower may have several common names and if this is the case, using the botanical name would rule out confusion. Here is an excerpt from that article:
"There are probably ten different flowers for which people use the common name 'Angel Trumpet', including 'Datura', 'Brugmansia' and several lilies including 'Crinum'. When they say 'Angel' or 'Devil Trumpet', I never know which flower they mean. In this case, I think it's best to call Datura by it's botanical name, Datura".
A lot of times, using the botanical name rules out any confusion. I think it's at these times, you should learn and use the botanical name, particularly if it's easy to pronounce.
Well, it seems my tip was a good one, after all. Some time after I posted my tip, ThriftyFun posted a guide titled 'Growing Moonflowers'. The article was accompanied by a picture of a white flower. That white flower has the botanical name 'Datura stramonium'. It is probably the most common variety of Datura, as there are many.
This description of the article was placed along side the picture:
'Add some night interest and a lovely fragrance to your garden with the beautiful moonflower which opens just before dusk. This is a guide about growing moonflowers'.
(I hope to make several corrections about flower names, here. My first is: The pictured flower 'Datura stramonium' does not have a "lovely fragrance". The slight scent it does have is rather unpleasant. The flower does not open just at dusk. It may open anytime, day or night).
The Datura has several common names. It is often called 'Angel Trumpet' or Devil's Trumpet'. Other common names are 'Jimson Weed' and 'Loco Weed'. It was only after rereading this article and researching that I discovered the Datura has yet another common name, that being 'Moonflower'.
When this article was composed, it had included in it, an article I had previously posted, titled 'Starting Moonflower Vine Seed'. A question posed was 'Are Moonflowers Toxic to Animals'? 'Best Answer': Moonflowers are extremely toxic to all animals.
I found a very short video on YouTube about 'getting high' with Moonflower seed. The opening and closing pictures were of Moonflower vine seed. All pictures in between were of the seed or seed pod of Moonflower (Datura).
(If you are thoroughly confused by now, you are not alone. So was the author of that video and the editors at ThriftyFun (Bless their hearts), as well as a lot of other people who write articles about these two plants).
My second correction is actually a set of corrections:
Datura, also called Angel Trumpet, Devil's Trumpet, Jimson Weed, and Moonflower does not open just at dusk. It has an unpleasant scent. Though not usually considered deadly, it is poisonous and contains hallucinogenic properties. Cattle have been known to 'go crazy' after ingesting Datura. That's how it came by another common name, Loco Weed.
On the other hand, Ipomoea alba, the Moonflower Vine also commonly called Angel Trumpet, Devil's Trumpet, etc. does open late evening. It's perfume is so pleasant, it is often planted by doorways. It is in fact related to the sweet potato and morning glory. The young leaves and the seed are eaten and prepared in several ways.
I think a lot of the confusion arose when Datura was given the common name, Moonflower.
So why would anyone call both these flowers by one common name, mainly Angel Trumpet? Not only is it confusing, it could be dangerous if you ate one of them.
If you grow either of these two flowers, or two others also commonly called 'Angel Trumpet', the pictures below may be of help. I still say "Sometimes, it's better to call a flower by it's botanical name, especially if that name is easy to pronounce". So, Datura is 'Datura", and Ipomoea alba is Moonflower vine.
I have also included links to pronunciation of the words Brugmansia, Crinum, and Datura. Say 'Brugmansia' ten times and you will own that word for life.
Editor's Note: We have corrected our "Growing Moonflowers" guide to reflect all the different names that are used to describe moonflowers. Night blooming cereus (hylocereus) is also commonly referred to as moonflower.
So many people want to call these two and other flowers, Angel Trumpet, Devil Trumpet or some other kind of trumpet. I am so glad you pointed out some of the major differences in these flowers.
I never paid attention, before. It seems that Datura blooms can face upward or downward. I took these pictures early morning. Near the top of the plant, all blooms face upwards. Near the bottom, many face downward.
The moonflower is a vining plant with huge white blooms that open at night and close during the day. It is truly a unique addition to any flower garden.
I was thinking an alternative title for this piece might be: Can You Bottle This Stuff? I believe it's essence would make an interesting perfume. It would have to be 'cleaned up' a bit, though. It is nice and heady, but muddled.
I planted these last year and they came back. I love them! I wish I would have planted them in my angel garden; I may do that in the fall.
The moonflower vine (which will be considered Ipomoea alba throughout this post) is a beautiful plant; a bit mysterious, too. I have read numerous internet accounts of this vine. The most consistent fact in these accounts is the inconsistency in their 'facts'.
We live next door to a llama/alpaca farm. Is it safe to plant these along their fence line?
By Pam M.
Moonflowers are extremely toxic to all animals. Do not plant them. I would suggest this website for some pretty and unusual flower seeds.
Contact them with any questions regarding the flowers' toxicity and benefits to butterflies, hummingbirds and other animals. Also, whether or not the flowers would work well in your geographic location. I've found them to be a great resource.
They are toxic. And animals that graze would be likely to ingest them.
Surprisingly I have had great luck sprouting moonflower seeds which are six years old between pieces of moist paper towel. Then I will transfer to peat pots. My question is this, when one sprouts, it sends out a white worm like looking thing. It grows. Will this be the future root? If so, I should place in plant with that part going down, right? Thanks!
I, too have great luck sprouting Moonflower vine seed. See picture, here. http://www.thriftyfun.com/Test-Seeds-For-Viability.html I don't know why you would germinate the seeds on paper towels and have to transfer them to peat pots when they would germinate just as easily in the peat pots. They should be kept constantly moist but not wet in a temperature of 75/80 degrees.
As you have already sprouted the seeds on towels, yes, that 'worm' like growth should be facing down. Even sideways would be OK. The seed knows which way to continue it's root growth.
Thankyou! I am changing my sprouting technique!!
Can someone tell me where I can locate seeds or the plant in Northeast Dallas area?
By Barbi S
You can call the nurseries in your area for plants and possibly seeds. Also, you can order them online from seed suppliers like Burpee-their site:
Dollar General has them
Last year I grew moonflowers, and late in the fall I harvested a couple of dozen seeds from the purple-ish pods. I kept them in a cool dry place all winter.
Last Fall, I collected seed from the dried seed pods on the vine pictured here. I brought the seed inside and put them in a saucer to dry for three days.