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I took these pictures at 9 PM tonight, believe it or not, the flash went off -- the blooms are beautiful! This is my second year planting them, but the first that they actually came up and bloomed! You can see the incredible size compared to the black-eyed susans.
Ipomoea alba, otherwise known as Moonflowers are so called because they bloom in the evening. They have large 4 to 6 inch fragrant, white or pink flowers on twining vines. The flowers open quickly in the evening and last through the night, remaining open until touched by the morning Sun.
Moonflowers grow to a height of about 15 feet. The leaves are rather large which allows the plant to be used as an annual in a northern garden. Propagation is usually by seed. The seed should be nicked with a file and then soaked overnight before planting. Moonflowers should be planted when the Moon is new or increasing in light!
The moonflower is a vigorous twining vine that is very fast growing in really hot weather. It is a tender tropical perennial but is now seeing popular use as an annual vine in colder areas. This close relative of the morning glory has similar heart shaped leaves that are a rich green and 4-8 (10-20 cm) inches long. They provide a beautiful backdrop for the spectacular moonflowers. This vine also known as the evening glory as its buds open in late afternoon and last only until morning's light transforms them into a limp shriveled mass. Moonflower makes up for the brief lifespans of individual flowers by producing quantities of the big blossoms throughout the summer. These are held on a stem that bears several buds simultaneously, not all of which bloom the same night. The long 4 in (10 cm) buds are also very attractive especially in the hours just before the flower opens.
And what a fabulous flower the moon vine (as it is also called) produces! They are fluted funnels sculpted in purest alabaster white. About the diameter of a saucer measuring 5-6 (12.7-15 cm) inches across. As if the moonflower was not already enchanting enough, it also has a delightful fragrance to complement its beauty and perfume warm summer nights.
Leaves and flower stems are adjacent and on the same side of the stem. The flowers are followed by rough husks that are filled with seed which can be harvested when the covering turns dry and black. The large white seeds resemble dried garbanzo beans and are about the same size.