Flower: Spotlight Moonflower

Flower Guru
Flower: Spotlight Moonflower

Meet Ipomoea alba, the “Lady of the Night,” more popularly known as Moonflower.

A nocturnal plant and a perennial vine, the Moonflower will interest you with its arresting beauty, strong fragrance, and unique night-blooming habit.  Read on and get to know this beautiful blossom further.

What’s In a Name?

Ever wondered why it’s called Moonflower?  It’s because this blossom produces a large, full-shaped flower that resembles a full moon.  Plus, it only blooms at night.  Yes, this is the kind of flower that doesn’t like to bathe in the sun.

The Moonflower is also called moon vine, tropical white morning glory, and Belle-de-nuit.

Noteworthy Characteristics

The Ipomoea alba shares the same heart-shaped leaves as Ipomoea purpurea or the common morning glory (they’re close relatives).  The leaves are rich green and are about 4-6 inches long.

 Characteristics of moonflowers

This plant produces spectacular white blooms that open in the early evening and close at dawn.  Each blossom measures about 5-6 inches wide. 

Moonflowers are so fragrant.  The strong scent is described as spicy, sweet, deep, and invigorating.

This blossom attracts night-flying moths for pollination.

Growing and Blooming Habit

Planting a moonflower requires soaking the seeds in warm water overnight (not more than 24 hours) before planting them directly into the soil.  Doing so softens the seed coat and encourages sprouting.  This plant needs loose, well-draining soil and at least six hours of direct sunlight.  This fast-grower is resistant to heat but not to cold.  The Moonflower blooms from October to April.  

This plant will need something to climb on.  It’s perfect for covering a fence or creating a decorative green archway in the garden.  Many gardeners opt to plant a moonflower close to a wall because it can twine its stem and grow up to 10-15ft in size.  This rapid-growing, fast-climbing plant can grow from both seeds and stem cuttings.

 Growing and Blooming Habit of moonflowers

One can watch and be amazed by the extraordinary blooming habit of this flora.  Catch its mesmerizing beauty late in the afternoon.  Just stand next to some buds and see its large, white flowers open within one to three minutes.

As An Alternative Medicine

It seems the Ipomoea alba carries quite a few fascinating qualities.  In China, the entire plant is used in treating snakebite, while in South America and the Caribbean, the plant is used as a laxative and a fever reducer.  In West Africa, the plant is used as a laxative and to promote weight loss.

Moonflower seeds were also identified to have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. 

The flower is also known to cure boils, wounds, and constipation.

Symbolism & Meaning

Watching a moonflower unfurl and swirl open in the darkness is an experience like no other.  No wonder this beguiling blossom has captured hearts and has spoken to many souls.  Such could be the result of the many different meanings and symbolism associated with the Moonflower.

Several cultures associate the Moonflower with divine existence.  The mysterious beauty of the Moonflower reminds them of the inexplicable mystical experiences that influence people’s lives.

 Symbolism & Meaning of moonflowers

In Ancient Greek, the Moonflower is said to represent the tears of the moon goddess Selene.  Others associate the Moonflower with the goddess of light, night, moon, and magic – Hecate.  This may be why Moonflower is also seen as a flower of femininity, intuition, and emotion.

In Thailand and Cameroon, the plant is said to help not just physical wounds but also emotional wounds like rejection, betrayal, and abandonment.

And because the Moonflower’s bright, white beauty shows itself at night, the flower is often considered a symbol of guidance and illumination.

If the enchanting tales of the Moonflower have captured your interest, there's another floral marvel waiting for you. Dive deep into the world of hydrangeas – a universally adored pompom flower. From its diverse flower heads, including the iconic Mophead and delicate Lacecap, to the fascinating way its hues change with the soil's pH, there's so much to discover about this captivating bloom. Learn why it's dubbed the "flower of rain" in Japan and the significance behind its name. But, a word of caution, while they're undeniably beautiful, they also come with a hint of danger being moderately toxic.

The Moonflower, scientifically known as Ipomoea alba, stands out as a symbol of mystique and enchantment in the botanical world. With its nocturnal blooming habits, fragrant white blossoms, and rich historical significance, it serves as a reminder of nature's many wonders that captivate the senses and resonate with the soul. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Moonflower holds medicinal value and is deeply rooted in folklore and symbolism across various cultures. Its representation of guidance, illumination, and divine existence makes it a beacon in the darkness, echoing the profound mysteries of life and the universe. Whether you're a gardener, a lover of nature, or someone seeking spiritual connection, the Moonflower invites you to witness its mesmerising dance in the moonlight and ponder upon the deeper meanings it embodies.


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