Tag Archives: moonflowers

Moon Vine

It was my joy to give the lecture, held at the Wenham Museum’s North Shore Design Show, on gardening for fragrance. Thank you to Lindsay, Yvonne, Leon, Pauline, Elizabeth, Julie, Lisa, Sandra, Polly, Eliza, and everyone else whose name I did not get, for your interest and great questions.

No garden planted for fragrance would be complete without growing moon vine. Plant moonflowers and cypress vines in late May and early June for September blossoms. Moon vine will give you dreamily-scented late summer nights and cardinal climber will provide nectar for southward migrating Ruby-throated hummingbirds

Moon Vine, Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba)Our moon vine-embowered porch in September

“You can tell in the afternoon which buds will open that night. In the South, where I used to live, it was the custom to keep an eye on the moon vine, and when sixty or so buds showed they would open that night, to ask people over to watch them. Unfortunately, people in the country talk so much that I cannot recall seeing the buds open very often. They tremble and vibrate when they open. Usually someonewould say “the flowers are out,” and everyone would run over to admire them, then back to jabbering.

Equally festive is the night-blooming cereus. In our neighborhood there lived an old cereus in a tub. It was ninety-seven years old, the last time I saw it, and produced 120 flowers open at once. When it bloomed (and you can tell by afternoon which buds will open) its proud owner would phone round the neighbors and there would be punch or champagne (rather dangerous in hot weather) and cucumber sandwiches for refined persons, and ham and potato salad for mere mortals. These parties, once such a feature of the American summer, were always spontaneous, since you only had a few hours to plan them and invite people. It was always astonishing to see how many people could come at the last minute.”

— Henry Mitchell ~ The Essential Earthman


Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Cardinal Climber, Cypress Vine Ipomoea x multifida

Perhaps this is the summer we will have our first moon vine party–and I will provide tea sandwiches for my refined friends and ham and potato salad for we mere mortals. What fun to imagine. Grow cardinal climber and moon vine together for a delightful combination of delicately toothed  and bold heart-shaped leaves–day flowering red trumpets for the hummingbirds and night blooming sweetly scented blossoms for you.

*Logees Greenhouse carries night-blooming cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum).