- Collecting Moonflower Seeds for Next Season
- Moonflower Seed Harvesting: Collecting Moonflower Seed Pods For Growing
- How Do I Harvest Moonflower Seeds?
- After Harvesting Moonflower Seeds
- Propagating Moonflower Vine Seeds
- Garden Plans For Moonflower
- Plant Details
- Moonflower Care Must-Knows
- More Varieties of Moonflower
- Plant Moonflower With:
Collecting Moonflower Seeds for Next Season
The moonflower vine is a beautiful climbing plant that opens its large white flowers just before dusk. This tropical vine is grown as an annual in most zones in the United States. Unlike many annuals, moonflowers cannot reproduce from cuttings. Leave a large number of spent blooms on the vine in order to produce seed heads.
Moonflowers planted soonest after the final spring frost, as seeds or from seedlings, will produce the most viable seeds. These splendid white flowers require at least six weeks to extend their vines, bloom, form seed heads, and allow the seed pods to mature on the vine. Collect the seeds and store them to ensure you have the healthiest seeds for germinating and transplanting next spring.
Step 1 – Collect the Seeds
The moonflower vines produce seed heads, which remain on the twining vines. Harvest these in one of three ways:
- Remove and dry the seed heads, leaving them intact.
- Break open the seed heads immediately to harvest the seed pods.
- Allow the seed heads to dry fully on the vines, and gather the seed pods.
Inside the seed heads, the seeds are encased in black, hard-shelled seed pods, with three or four white seeds in each pod. Make a tiny cut in the seed pod to check for a healthy, green lining. Discard the seed pod if the lining is black, brown, moldy, or has been infested by insects.
Step 2 – Prepare the Seeds for Storage
Moonflower seeds need to be dried for storage in the seed pods, so they can germinate effectively later. When correctly dried and stored, santana moonflower seeds will remain usable for up to a full year.
- Dry seed pods in a paper bag placed in direct sunlight, till they appear light brown on the outside.
- Inspect the seed pods after two or three days, checking the lining again.
- Discard pods with small, immature seeds or discolored linings.
- Save only the best and healthiest seeds.
Step 3 – Store the Seeds in Optimum Conditions
For the best growth outdoors in cool climates such as Zones 5, 6 and 7, moonflower seeds benefit from chilling while in storage. (Keep in mind that moonflowers can be grown indoors as well.)
- Place the paper bag of seed pods in a jar or plastic bag.
- Label it with contents and date stored.
- Store it near the bottom of the refrigerator where the temperature conditions are consistent.
In the warmest growing zones, chilling the dried seed pods is not necessary. Store them in a cool, dry location away from direct light. Be sure to keep all moonflower seeds and seed pods away from small children and pets, as they are poisonous when eaten, and can be fatal.
Moonflower seeds thrive best in Zones 6 and 7 when germinated indoors for transplantation outdoors. In warmer growth zones, especially Zones 8 to 11, many moonflower varieties are perennials, so they will self-seed at the end of the season. In spring, “volunteer” seedlings will sprout up, which can then be carefully transplanted, if necessary, to the section of the garden where you want them to spread.
Preparing to Plant Moonflower Seeds >>
Some seeds are just more dependable if started indoors, and moonflower is one of those. When started outside, if the soil dries out for even a short period between germination and the time it comes up through the soil, the seedling can die before you even know it is there.
Moonflower seeds can be cranky and germination sporadic, but the results are worth a little extra effort. They need a long growing season, so start them indoors about now, but don’t transplant them outside until after the last frost date, once the soil has thoroughly warmed and the weather settled.
Try soaking the seeds overnight and presprouting by placing them between several layers of paper towel kept damp inside a plastic bag. Leave the bag unsealed on the kitchen counter. Check them regularly for sprouting.
Some seeds will sprout in three or four days; others will take as long as several weeks.
The sprouted seeds should be planted one-half inch deep in a good soilless potting medium in individual four-inch pots.
Leave them in a sunny, warm spot in the pots until they are well rooted and anxious to go outside.
Moonflower Seed Harvesting: Collecting Moonflower Seed Pods For Growing
Moonflower is a plant in the Ipomoea genus, which includes over 500 species. The plant is an annual in much of North America but is easy to start from seed and has a very rapid growth rate. Moonflower seed pods contain several chambers and numerous flat black seeds. They must be collected prior to winter and started in early spring in most of our zones. Propagating moonflower vine seeds is the only way to replicate the vines, as vegetative reproduction is not viable. Learn when and how to harvest and plant moonflower seeds.
How Do I Harvest Moonflower Seeds?
Moonflower is a photo-responsive plant, which opens its flowers in the evening only, while its cousin, morning glory, only opens its blooms early in the day. Both produce rampant, twining vines and lovely old-fashioned flowers. While not winter hardy in most zones, moonflower grows so easily from seed it will reestablish itself quickly when temperatures rise and seedlings take off. The persistent seed pods make harvesting moonflower seeds simple and seed can remain viable for two years if stored properly.
The first step in acquiring the seed is to identify moonflower seed pods. These are tear-drop shaped and start out green, becoming husk-like and brown at maturity. You must
watch the pods daily, as seeds aren’t ripe until the pod becomes brown, but the pod will almost immediately split at several points in the side and spill the seed. This makes moonflower seed harvesting a dance on a pin as you try to time the right period for collection.
If you have several varieties, collect pods from each and label them carefully. Additionally, only select pods from healthy, vigorous vines to increase the chances of successful sowing in spring. As soon as the pod is mostly brown, remove it from the plant and further dry it in a warm, dry location.
After Harvesting Moonflower Seeds
Wait until the pods are completely dry before taking out the seeds. Check pods carefully for any sign of mold, disease or insect activity and reject those that have any indications they are not healthy.
When pods are dry, split them open and shake the seeds into a bowl. Dry seed further in a single layer for up to a week. Then you are ready to store the seed. Package seed in a glass container or plastic bag. Remove any wrinkled or discolored seeds, as they are not viable.
Label your containers and store the seed for up to two years in a cool, dark location that will not freeze, such as a basement or insulated garage. If storing for more than a few months, check bags several times in the year to ensure no mold or issues are developing.
Propagating Moonflower Vine Seeds
Moonflowers will grow very quickly, but seeds need a long growing season to develop. In USDA zones 6 and 7, the plant will thrive and produce flowers more quickly if sown indoors. In zones 8 to 9, the seed can be directly sown into garden beds outside.
To sow indoors, prepare 2-inch pots with good potting soil 6 to 8 weeks before the date of your last frost. Then preparation of the seeds begins. Soak seeds overnight in water. Some gardeners swear by cutting the hard exterior of the seed a bit to help it absorb moisture and help the embryonic plant escape the shell. This is probably not necessary, but you can try it if you wish.
Sow seed ½ inch below the soil surface and tamp in. Keep pots evenly moist in a well-lit area that is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C.). Most seed should germinate in 3 to 4 days.
Moonflower is one of the most romantic plants you can grow in a garden. The large, trumpet-shape flowers unfurl in the evening and stay open until the sun rises. Several varieties of moonflower also give off a lemon fragrance when its flowers are open.
Garden Plans For Moonflower
Moonflower, devil’s trumpet, jimsonweed, thorn apple: These are just a few of the many common names for this self-seeding annual. As the name moonflower would suggest, many varieties open only at night. Long, white petals slowly unfurl as the evening comes, eventually opening into trumpet-shape blooms. Once morning arrives, the flowers curl up, reverting back to their closed form.
While the nocturnal blooms of moonflower are certainly breathtaking, the gray-green tropical-looking leaves are another attractive feature of this plant. Be cautious, though: The leaves have a pungent odor when crushed.
Moonflower is a North American native and was founded near Jamestown, Virginia. This plant has a weedy nature and, in some cases, can become borderline invasive. As the life of the beautiful white blooms comes to an end, a thorny pod begins to develop. Initially, the thorns are soft, but as they age and expand, they’ll become hard and sharp. Once they’re ripe, the pods will burst open and drop hundreds of seeds for next year’s growth.
As beautiful as this plant may be, it is deadly if ingested. When planting moonflowers, site them in a spot out of reach of children and pets.
See more dog-friendly backyard ideas.
Moonflower Care Must-Knows
Once moonflowers are established in well-drained soil, they don’t need much additional care. To keep this plant from taking over a garden, pick off the seed pods before they burst open. This way, you can plant the seed pod wherever you’d like.
More Varieties of Moonflower
‘Blackcurrant Swirl’ Moonflower
Datura ‘Blackcurrant Swirl’ offers double purple flowers on 5-foot-tall plants.
‘Evening Fragrance’ Moonflower
Datura meteloides bears pure-white flowers and fuzzy gray-green foliage on a plant that can grow 4 feet tall.
Plant Moonflower With:
Few annuals are bolder or make more of a statement than cardoon. It’s the essence of exotic. This stately plant can reach 5 feet tall and bears toothed, thistlelike, silvery leaves. The blooms, which look like silvery-violet artichokes, take a backseat to the plant’s impressive foliage display. Start indoors from seed or start from seed directly in the ground after all danger of frost has passed. Keep amply watered, but do not overwater. Though it’s perennial in Zones 7-9, it’s usually grown as an annual. Cardoon reseeds freely.
It’s amazing that the tall, dramatic spider flower is only an annual. Once temperatures warm up, it zooms to 4 feet or more very quickly and produces large balls of flowers with fascinating long seedpods that whirl out from it. Cut it for vases, but be aware that the flowers shatter easily after a few days. It typically self-seeds prolifically, so you only need to plant it once. Because it develops surprisingly large thorns, it’s best to keep spider flower away from walkways. Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Cleome does best in moderately rich, well-drained soil. Be careful about fertilizing or you’ll have extremely tall and floppy plants. Group in clusters of 6 or more for best effect.
Many types of nicotiana are terrifically fragrant (especially at night) and are wonderful in attracting hummingbirds as well as fascinating hummingbird moths. There are several types of nicotiana, also called flowering tobacco, because it’s a cousin of the regular tobacco plant. Try the shorter, more colorful types in containers or the front of beds or borders. The taller, white-only types, which can reach 5 feet, are dramatic in the back of borders. And they’re ideal for night gardens; they’re usually most fragrant at dusk. These plants do best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil, and they may reseed.