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Moonflower is one of the most romantic plants you can grow in a garden. The large, trumpet-shape flowers unfurl in the evening and stay open until the sun rises. Several varieties of moonflower also give off a lemon fragrance when its flowers are open.

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From 1 to 8 feet


1-4 feet wide

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garden plans for Moonflower

Plant Details

Moonflower, devil's trumpet, jimsonweed, thorn apple: These are just a few of the many common names for this self-seeding annual. As the name moonflower would suggest, many varieties open only at night. Long, white petals slowly unfurl as the evening comes, eventually opening into trumpet-shape blooms. Once morning arrives, the flowers curl up, reverting back to their closed form.

While the nocturnal blooms of moonflower are certainly breathtaking, the gray-green tropical-looking leaves are another attractive feature of this plant. Be cautious, though: The leaves have a pungent odor when crushed.

Moonflower is a North American native and was founded near Jamestown, Virginia. This plant has a weedy nature and, in some cases, can become borderline invasive. As the life of the beautiful white blooms comes to an end, a thorny pod begins to develop. Initially, the thorns are soft, but as they age and expand, they'll become hard and sharp. Once they're ripe, the pods will burst open and drop hundreds of seeds for next year's growth.

As beautiful as this plant may be, it is deadly if ingested. When planting moonflowers, site them in a spot out of reach of children and pets.

See more dog-friendly backyard ideas.

Moonflower Care Must-Knows

Once moonflowers are established in well-drained soil, they don't need much additional care. To keep this plant from taking over a garden, pick off the seed pods before they burst open. This way, you can plant the seed pod wherever you'd like.

More Varieties of Moonflower

'Blackcurrant Swirl' Moonflower

Datura 'Blackcurrant Swirl' offers double purple flowers on 5-foot-tall plants.

'Evening Fragrance' Moonflower

Datura meteloides bears pure-white flowers and fuzzy gray-green foliage on a plant that can grow 4 feet tall.

Plant Moonflower With:

Few annuals are bolder or make more of a statement than cardoon. It's the essence of exotic. This stately plant can reach 5 feet tall and bears toothed, thistlelike, silvery leaves. The blooms, which look like silvery-violet artichokes, take a backseat to the plant's impressive foliage display. Start indoors from seed or start from seed directly in the ground after all danger of frost has passed. Keep amply watered, but do not overwater. Though it's perennial in Zones 7-9, it's usually grown as an annual. Cardoon reseeds freely.
Spider flower
It's amazing that the tall, dramatic spider flower is only an annual. Once temperatures warm up, it zooms to 4 feet or more very quickly and produces large balls of flowers with fascinating long seedpods that whirl out from it. Cut it for vases, but be aware that the flowers shatter easily after a few days. It typically self-seeds prolifically, so you only need to plant it once. Because it develops surprisingly large thorns, it's best to keep spider flower away from walkways. Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Cleome does best in moderately rich, well-drained soil. Be careful about fertilizing or you'll have extremely tall and floppy plants. Group in clusters of 6 or more for best effect.
Flowering tobacco
Many types of nicotiana are terrifically fragrant (especially at night) and are wonderful in attracting hummingbirds as well as fascinating hummingbird moths. There are several types of nicotiana, also called flowering tobacco, because it's a cousin of the regular tobacco plant. Try the shorter, more colorful types in containers or the front of beds or borders. The taller, white-only types, which can reach 5 feet, are dramatic in the back of borders. And they're ideal for night gardens; they're usually most fragrant at dusk. These plants do best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil, and they may reseed.
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