The Arbor and the Moonflower

It's taken a long time for our moonflower vine (Ipomoea alba) to finally become mature enough to produce a flower. I planted two moonflower vines from seed at the base of the arbor I built for Better Homes and Gardens soon after its construction. The first couple weeks of their life was difficult due to the rabbits and their taste testing parties in the garden (and they didn't even invite me!). Eventually one moonflower emerged victorious as the rabbits turned their attention toward greener pastures and the clover it contained.

The moonflower utilized the last couple weeks to twine itself  up the arbor at a very rapid pace. Each day seems to bring several more inches of growth. I was beginning to get concerned that the flowers might never come but buds are all over the vine and the first flower has finally emerged.

Moonflowers have the same heart shaped leaves that morning glories do which isn't a surprise since they are so closely related. Unlike morning glories, which unveil themselves in the morning for pollination, moonflowers emerge at night for moths to pollinate.

If you are sitting outside enjoying the weather on a pleasant summer evening you can smell the scent of the moonflower as it tries to attract its pollinator. The moonflower is probably the first plant people consider when planting a night garden but almost any plant with white flowers (that reflect the moonlight) or pleasant fragrances will work.
There will be many more flowers but its always exciting to find the first one.

Moonflowers have massive blooms. In the picture here I'm holding the lens cap of my camera (Nikon D40) as a comparison. The bloom is at least 6 inches wide. Very cool!

Hopefully the blooms will emerge simultaneously for the perfect "moonshot" this week. The bright white flower looks great next to the sweet potato vine.

Edit for addition photo:

Now there are three blooms! (9-12-09)

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