They grow in groups of two or three and have purple spots on their undersides. They bloom all year round. They are very drought tolerant and thrive in hot dry conditions. They require little care but do need regular waterings during the summer months. If left alone they will eventually become weeds in your garden.
They are easy to grow, but they tend to be a bit invasive so keep them away from other plants if possible! They prefer full sun and get most of their moisture through evaporation off the soil surface rather than direct rainwatering.
They tolerate some shade, but they don’t like it too much. You may want to consider growing these in containers instead of in the ground because they are not as adaptable to being grown in pots.
Growing Moonflowers In A Container
You can start growing moonflowers in a container right now! All you need is a sunny spot where you can place your container and lots of room around it.
Choose a large container (at least 3 feet across) for the best results. Even better if you can find one with a decorative trellis on the side so you can train the vines up as they grow. Fill your container with a good quality potting soil that does not contain any fertilizer.
When you plant your moonflower vine, place it somewhere where it gets at least 6 hours of sun each day. After you place it in the ground, water it well and then every few days unless it rains.
Make sure that the soil stays moist but not soggy wet. Fertilize it once a month during the growing season.
As the vine grows, it will start to flower and produce fruit. You can prune out any vine growth that is not producing flowers.
This will encourage more flowers and fruit on the parts that are left. If you are growing in a container, you will need to stake the vine when it starts to vine. If you have a trellis, you can train the vine to grow up it as it grows taller. You may have to prune it back from time to time so it does not cover everything else in your garden.
Seeds & Growing
Moonflower vines produce a long spike of flowers that eventually turn into a large fruit. When the fruit has turned a dusky brown color, you can pick it and open it to see the seeds inside.
The seeds are black and glossy and have a hard coating on them. Store these seeds in a dry place until you are ready to plant them.
If you would rather not go through the process of collecting and planting seeds, you can easily grow new plants from cuttings. Look for a vine that has grown some flowers and ripened some fruit.
Snip off a piece of the vine that has some of the flowers and fruit on it. Strip off any leaves that are below the fruit and all the leaves that are above it.
Wrap the cutting in a damp paper towel. Place the cutting in a zipper bag and seal it.
Place the bag in a warm location where it will get some indirect sunlight. Check it daily and water whenever the paper towel is dry. In a few weeks, new growth will start to appear. Transplant it into a container and treat it as you would a seedling. It should take within a couple of months.
Your moonflower vine should start to flower sometime in the spring and will keep blooming until the fall. The flowers will produce a long fruit that ripens to a dusky brown.
These fruits are very seedy. You can eat them but they taste really bad and have few nutrients. If you let them sit for several months after they ripen and squish them with your fingers, the oils will come out and they won’t taste nearly as bad. These squished seeds are what you can save and plant the following spring.
Soil & Location
Your moonflower vine prefers well-drained, fertile soil. It can grow in most types of soil as long as they are well drained.
It does not like stagnant water around its roots. It is a hardy plant that can survive most conditions, but it will not thrive in them. It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight each day in order to flower properly.
Water & Fertilize
The moonflower vine is not a heavy feeder. It only needs fertilizer once a month.
You can use a slow-release fertilizer or animal manure. Water your moonflower vine whenever the soil is dry. Avoid getting water on the leaves because they are sensitive to moisture and prone to fungal diseases if you do.
Sources & references used in this article:
Application and Development of Ornamental Vines in Urban Gardens by JC Raulston – Thirty-Seventh Annual Report
Wyman’s gardening encyclopedia by D Tang, S Li – Journal of Landscape Research, 2012 – search.proquest.com
Vegetable gardening in the Caribbean area by D Wyman – 1986 – books.google.com