Tag Archives: Ipomoea alba

The last moonflower of the season

Ipomoea alba

The biggest problem with getting vining moonflowers (Ipomoea alba) established isn’t getting the seeds to germinate. It’s getting the first year’s plants through that first year. I don’t know for sure if moonflowers require symbiotic fungi for growth, but the first year attempting to get a decent moonflower vine going has been a nightmare, ever since the first time I tried it nearly fifteen years ago. The year after, though, the problem is keeping them under control. This autumn was especially rough on the small enclave I planted along the garage fence, but finally one bloomed. One single bloom, and sufficiently shaded during the day that it didn’t fade the way they normally do.

Ipomoea alba

With luck, this flower gets some attention from the local bees and wasps, and produces seed before the first big freezes come in. If that happens, then expect to see them again next year and every year where they’re able to go to seed. As compared to the completely unrelated but superficially similar blooms from angel trumpets (Datura stramonium), these are nontoxic, they’re generally noninvasive in North Texas, they produce quite a bit of habitat for local lizards, praying mantids, and assassin bugs, and they offer food for both night-dwelling hawkmoths and the occasional very early hummingbird. Combine that with their generally low-maintenance habits, and they’re perfect vining flowers for that bluecollar goth of your acquaintance.