Ipomoea alba or Giant Moonflower is a luxuriant vine with a profusion of large, fragrant flowers.
The flowers are usually white, sometimes pink, and bloom at night.
It is an evergreen plant in tropical climate but in temperate climate it can be grown as an annual. In the tropics it tends to be invasive.
It can overwinter indoors and even resow spontaneously but it’s usually easier to sow them each year.
Ipomoea alba is a winding vine with slender, round, light green woody stems. It can be 5-20 m long.
The leaves are oval to circular, heart-shaped at the base, entire or 3-lobed, up to 20 cm long and 16 cm wide.
The flowers are fragrant, nocturnal blooming, solitary or a few flowers together in axillary clusters. The closed flower buds show a beautiful spiral. There are five fused petals, with a pronounced vein. The corona is white or pink, salver form, 8-14 cm in diameter. They have a crown tube of 7-15 cm long and a flower stem of 4-15 cm long.
In the tropics, the plant blooms throughout the year. In temperate climate, it blooms when the days are shorter, spring and at the end of summer to autumn. The flowers remain open longer during wet weather. They open at dusk and stay open all night. They are pollinated by moths.
The fruit is an ovoid or conical capsule. It contains four dark brown seeds of 1 cm
Giant Moonflower, Moon Vine, Moonflower, Tropical White Morningglory
Calonyction aculeatum, Calonyction aculeatum var. lobatum, Calonyction album, Calonyction bona-nox, Calonyction bona-nox var. lobata, Calonyction speciosum, Convolvulus aculeatus, Ipomoea aculeata, Ipomoea aculeata var. bona-nox, Ipomoea bona-nox Linnaeus
Ipomoea: from the Greek words ips (worm) and homois (like, comparable)
Alba: from the Latin albus (white)
Tropical and subtropical America, from northern Argentina to Mexico en Florida
Humid forests, along watercourses, disturbed areas. Can even grow in swamps.
USDA zones 9-11, dies at -5 °C. May resume in the spring but is usually sown each year.
Moist and well drained
Keep the soil moist
Does not need additional feed
Must have a trellis or other climb support to wind around, can also grow creeping
The plant can reseed spontaneously. If you do not want this, you need to remove the seed pods before they are ripe.
- can be sown in the ground, in the fall or after the last frost but bloom will then start late in the summer. Therefore it is best to start them indoors in the middle of winter, about two months before the last frost.
- scarify the seeds for a better germination rate: nick the seed with a knife or sand it with sandpaper
- sow in light soil and moisten
- room temperature (18-30 °C)
- germination time: 4-7 days
- plant outside after the last frost, once the seedlings are established they grow very fast