Ipomoea alba or Moon Flower is a robust perennial vine native to Tropical America. It is a very fast growing vine extending to 15-20 feet (6.1-9.15 m) in a single season. Stems have a milky sap and are more or less prickly. Leaves are broadly-ovate to 8 inches (20.32 cm) long and sometimes are 3 lobed. I discovered this plant when a friend of mine gave me 4 seeds that he got from his aunt. The seeds looked like dried peas. I started the seed in late June and they quickly germinated. Since I was told it was a climber, I transplanted them near a trellis to climb on. They grew very fast, but no blooms. The plant started blooming for me in September and I was surprised at the sheer beauty of the nocturnal flowers. Here in zone 7, they are treated as annuals and are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 8-10. CAUTION: This plant has the potential to be very invasive. Seed should be collected or the flowers dead-headed on a daily basis.
Blooming Time: Flowers are pure white with a green star in the center, nocturnal and very fragrant. Individual flowers are up to 8 inches (20 cm) across and very showy.
Culture: Ipomoea alba or Moon Flower needs full sun to light shade with a moist, rich well-drained soil. For plants to be grown in the greenhouse, we used a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. In the landscape, we fortify the soil with compost before planting. The plants do not take drought at all in zone 7 and should be kept moist at all times. We fertilize the plants monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Since the plants are considered annual here, we will collect all seed for next year and will cut them back to ground level when they start to die off.
Propagation: Ipomoea alba or Moon Flower is best propagated from seed. Seed should be soaked in water 24 hours before planting
Ipomoea alba was featured as Plant of the Week October 1-14, 2010.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.