Moonflower: Direct Sow Annual
How to Sow
Sowing Directly in the Garden:
- Moonflower seed has a hard seed coat. To aid germination, nick or cut the seed coat with a nail file and soak the seed overnight.
- Direct sow seeds in average soil in full sun two weeks after danger of frost has passed. Moonflower is a vigorous vine; choose a location next to a support for the vines to climb.
- Moonflower is not generally recommended for containers.
- Prepare the soil by removing weeds and working organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil; then level and smooth. Moonflower tends to prefer poor soils rather than highly enriched soil.
- Sow seeds thinly and cover with 1/2 inch of soil.
- Firm soil lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings will emerge in 7-14 days.
How to Grow
- Keep soil evenly moist but not wet.
- Thin to stand 12 inches apart when plants are 1 to 2 inches high.
- Do not fertilize unless the plants are showing a nutrient deficiently. Over fertilizing may produce lush green vines with few flowers.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Remove plants after they are killed by heavy frost in fall to avoid disease issues the following year.
- Moonflower vines need little care and are easy to grow.
- Plants can self-sow so allow some to set seeds at the end of the season if you would like it to come back next year. If you would like to prevent self-sowing, remove seed pods before the seeds are released.
- When night falls flowers open quickly, sometimes in less than a minute. Excellent plant for a patio where you may enjoy the summer evening outdoors.
Common Disease Problems
Black Rot: This bacterial disease thrives in warm and humid conditions and attacks the leaves. Yellow-orange V shaped lesions occur on the edges of the leaves and eventually dry out and the leaves fall off. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation, do not overcrowd plants. Do not work around plants when they are wet. Control weeds where the disease can overwinter.
Damping Off: This is one of the most common problems when starting plants from seed. The seedling emerges and appears healthy; then it suddenly wilts and dies for no obvious reason. Damping off is caused by a fungus that is active when there is abundant moisture and soils and air temperatures are above 68 degrees F. Typically, this indicates that the soil is too wet or contains high amounts of nitrogen fertilizer. Burpee Recommends: Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater; avoid over-fertilizing your seedlings; thin out seedlings to avoid overcrowding; make sure the plants are getting good air circulation.
Rust: A number of fungus diseases that rust colored spots on foliage. Burpee Recommends: Practice crop rotation. Remove infected plants. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Stem Canker: Part of the stem looks sunken and turns brown. The stem will wilt. This is caused by a fungus. The canker can open and ooze sap. This fungus can spread to all parts of the plant causing the plant to die. Burpee Recommends: Remove any infected stem as soon as you see symptoms. Rotate crops. Try not to get the stems and leaves wet when watering the plant.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Japanese Beetles: Burpee Recommends: Hand pick early in the morning into a bucket of soapy water.
Leafminers: These insects bore just under the leaf surface causing irregular serpentine lines. The larvae are yellow cylindrical maggots and the adults are small black and yellow flies. They do not usually kill plants, but disfigure the foliage. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected foliage. Sanitation is important so be sure to remove all debris at the end of the season.
Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.
Sunscald: Leaves are bleached in between veins and faded, often turn white with brown crispy edges. There are no signs of pests and diseases. Plants were usually recently moved. The bright light and heat from the sun break down the chlorophyll which leads to death of the leaf. Burpee Recommends: Some afternoon shade would be helpful, but keep the plants as healthy as possible.
Can I start moonflower seeds inside? Moonflower is very easy to start outside and does not like to be transplanted so we do not recommend starting it indoors.
Why are my moonflower plants not blooming? Moonflowers are sensitive to day length and may bloom later in the summer. They prefer a poor soil and if they are over fertilized, they may grow into larger plants with many leaves but few flowers.
Are moonflower plants or seeds toxic? Yes, both plants and seeds are toxic. Do not eat any part of the plant, especially the seeds.
Are Moonflowers fragrant? Yes they are fragrance at night when the flowers open.
Why are my moonflowers blooming during the day? Although moonflowers start to open their flowers at night, the flowers can stay open during the day if it is a cloudy day.
Can I grow moonflower in a container? No, we do not recommend moonflower for containers. They will not bloom if they are overcrowded.