Moon Flower Aspirations

Moon Flower at dawn in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Moon Flower at dawn (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

You have to be brave to try to grow a Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba) in the cold climate of New England. A risk taker. A gambler. Or, you might be the eternal optimist and believe in the impossible. Whichever you are, when you plant a moon flower north of the Mason-Dixon line, there is a pretty good chance that you won’t see a blossom before frost strikes. Not even one. So why would a Northwestern Connecticut gardener continue to try? Perhaps I am a bit of both: the eternal optimist and a risk taker. After all, what true hands-in-the-dirt gardener doesn’t take a few risks? But the reason I keep trying … I once had success, in fact not so long ago my patio was enveloped in fragrant moon flower blossoms (Visit moon flower post from 2012: Moon Flower ). And so my friends, I continue to strive to reach some semblance of that one time in the not too distant past when I glimpsed a little part of heaven on earth …

What is it about the nocturnal moon flower that makes them so irresistible? Is it their size or shape? The sweet fragrance emitted only after the sun goes down? It’s the stuff that songs are made of, from Dorothy Lamour in Road to Bali, circa 1952, to Santana’s sexy sultry version of Moonflower in 1977. And why not? The moon flower is certainly worth singing – or swooning  – over!

Best Seat in the House in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Best Seat Outside the House (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Members of the much loved Convolvulaceae family of morning glories and sweet potato vines, moon flowers are hardy to tropical climates zone 10 and above. What sets them apart, what they are named for, is their unique characteristic of blooming in the evening in partnership with the moon. In a sunny and protected area, the moon flower vine may grow to over 15 feet on a sturdy trellis, arbor or wall. In my Connecticut garden, the vine doesn’t really start growing until the hot days of August, and blooms usually don’t start until October, which makes them vulnerable to frost before the blossoms are able to open.

Awaiting the opening in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Awaiting the opening (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

It’s the beginning of October and my vine has climbed its trellis beautifully, large heart-shaped leaves swirling about the stem while protecting the emerging flower buds. These precious and long awaited buds of promise – it seems the more I check and watch, the more they taunt me and stay closed up tight. I predict they will wait me out until I forget, and then will burst open in a galaxias display of white – surpassing in glory only the moon itself. 

Moon Flower blooming at night in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Moon Flower blooming at night (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

And so I wait and ponder and wish and hope. And pray. To be blessed with the scent of the intoxicating, elusive flower is truly a sight to behold. Yet until it succumbs to my wishes, I continue to wait patiently. To dream about its silky flower swirling open in a spiral like a top spinning into the universe. To wish for the chance to bury my nose deep into its breadth on a warm night, to inhale its musk and fall into a dream state. Oh, to wish it and make it so. To have a wand to touch upon its bud and watch it magically open before my eyes.

This is what I hope and dream for. The things that keep gardeners awake at night. The culmination of hopes, desires and dreams. The intoxicating blossom of a moon flower ♥


  1. Ann VonHoorn says

    I enjoy your blog gardening info and writing style. I now live in zone 8 on the NC coast. I will try the moon flower. Hope springs eternal.

    • The North Carolina climate may be perfect for the moon flower, but give it plenty of room as it could grow quite large if it likes your location! I wish you the best of luck and I know you will love the moon flower if it does well in your garden. Thank you, Ann, for writing, I appreciate your kind words ~

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