Moonflower Growth Stages with Pictures

Moonflower Growth Stages with Pictures
Picture Source: Canva

Growing Moonflowers is a journey that captures the heart of every gardener. In this article, I’ll walk you through the captivating stages of the Moonflower’s growth, each illustrated with a beautiful picture to showcase the evolution of this enchanting plant. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this visual guide is designed to inspire and educate you on how to nurture your own Moonflower vines.

We will explore the remarkable stages of development, from the resilience of the germinating seeds to the stunning display of full blooms under the moonlit sky. Prepare to be immersed in the life cycle of one of the most mesmerizing nocturnal flowers, where each stage unveils a piece of nature’s breathtaking beauty.

Before we dive deeper into this article, you should know that the moonflower, scientifically known as Ipomoea alba, is also referred to as Moonvine and Tropical white morning glory.

Warning: All parts of the moonflower plant are toxic if ingested, so keep it away from children and pets. It’s best to wear gloves when handling the moonflower plant to avoid skin irritation.

Discover Moonflower Growth Stages Timeline with Pictures:

Moonflower Growth Stages Pictures
Moonflower Growth Stages

Stage 1: Moonflower Seed Selection and Preparation

Stage 1 - Moonflower Seed Selection and Preparation

Duration: 1-2 days

Start by selecting high-quality moonflower seeds, ensuring they are fresh and from a reliable source. The preparation includes soaking the seeds in warm water for 24 hours to soften the hard outer shell.

This is followed by scarification, where the seed coat is gently nicked or filed to promote water absorption and hasten germination. These steps are crucial for speeding up the germination process​.


  • Acquire seeds that are both fresh and high-grade, preferably from a supplier with a good reputation.
  • Soak the seeds in warm water over a 24-hour period to help soften their rigid outer shells.
  • Use a file or sandpaper to gently scarify the seeds to improve water absorption.


  • Use old or damaged seeds as they may have a lower germination rate.
  • Over-soak the seeds as prolonged soaking might damage them.
  • Apply too much pressure when scarifying, which could damage the embryo inside the seed.

Stage 2: Moonflower Germination

Stage 2 - Moonflower Germination

Duration: 3-14 days

After seed preparation, plant the seeds about a quarter inch deep in a fertile, well-draining growing medium. The soil should be kept moist and at a consistent temperature of 70 to 80°F.

Under these conditions, moonflower seeds typically germinate within 3 to 14 days, depending on the environment and seed treatment​.


  • Plant the seeds in a well-draining, fertile growing medium.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist, ensuring it is never too wet.
  • Maintain a warm environment (70 to 80°F) to encourage germination.


  • Let the soil dry out completely as it can hinder the germination process.
  • Plant the seeds too deep—about a quarter inch is sufficient.
  • Overcrowd the seeds, which can lead to poor air circulation and increase the risk of disease.

See Also: Balloon Flower Growing and Care Guide

Stage 3: Moonflower Seedling Growth

Stage 3 - Moonflower Seedling Growth

Duration: 4-6 weeks

Once the moonflower seedlings have emerged, they require adequate light and a warm environment. If indoors, grow lights may be necessary to provide sufficient light. During this stage, it’s important to thin the seedlings, removing weaker ones to give space for the healthier seedlings to develop robustly.

After about 4-6 weeks, or once they have a strong set of true leaves, seedlings should be gradually acclimated to outdoor conditions before transplanting. This hardening-off process helps reduce shock when moved to a more variable outdoor environment.


  • Provide sufficient light for the seedlings, using grow lights if necessary.
  • Thin out the seedlings to ensure each has enough room to grow.
  • Help the seedlings adjust to outside temperatures and sunlight by gradually increasing their exposure before you transplant them.


  • Expose young seedlings to direct sunlight immediately as it can cause stress or scorching.
  • Neglect to harden off seedlings, which can lead to shock when they are moved outdoors.
  • Overwater or underwater as both can adversely affect seedling health.

Stage 4: Moonflower Transplanting

Stage 4 - Moonflower Transplanting

Duration: 1 day for the actual transplanting; preparation may take additional days

After the seedlings are hardened off, which typically takes 7-10 days, they are ready to be transplanted into their final growing location. This could be a garden bed or a large container with a support structure like a trellis. The best time to transplant is after all danger of frost has passed and the soil temperature is consistently warm.

The actual transplanting process usually takes a day, but preparing the site with adequate soil, nutrients, and a support structure may require additional time before the day of transplanting​.


  • Wait to transplant until the threat of frost has ended and the soil has adequately warmed.
  • Set up the planting area with well-enriched soil, necessary nutrients, and an appropriate support structure for the plants.
  • Water thoroughly after transplanting to help establish roots.


  • Transplant too early when the soil is still cold, as moonflowers are tropical and sensitive to cold.
  • Disturb the root system excessively during transplanting.
  • Forget to provide a trellis or support structure for the climbing vines.

Also Read: Tomato Growth Stages Pictures

Stage 5: Moonflower Vine Growth

Stage 5 - Moonflower Vine Growth

Duration: Several weeks to months (until the onset of flowering)

Once transplanted, moonflower vines will start to show vigorous growth, especially in warm and sunny conditions. They can grow rapidly, climbing up trellises or other supports. This stage is crucial for the development of a robust plant that will eventually bear flowers.

It’s important to provide consistent watering (keeping the soil moist but not soggy), regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer, and adequate sunlight (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day). The vines can reach up to 15 feet in length throughout the growing season​​.


  • Ensure the soil remains moist with consistent watering, but avoid letting it turn overly wet.
  • Ensure that the plants receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive.
  • Fertilize regularly with a balanced fertilizer to support vigorous growth.


  • Neglect the support needs of growing vines; they require something to climb on.
  • Let the vines grow on the ground, which can lead to diseases and poor flowering.
  • Over-fertilize, which can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowering.

Stage 6: Moonflower Bud Formation

Stage 6 - Moonflower Bud Formation

Duration: Varies widely, typically begins mid to late summer

As the moonflower vine plant matures and the environmental conditions are right (usually mid to late summer), bud formation begins. This point in the growth cycle marks the change from vegetative to reproductive stages.

The timing of bud formation can vary significantly based on factors like the plant’s health, local climate, and care provided. Once buds start forming, it usually takes a few weeks for them to mature into flowers​.


  • Monitor for adequate sun exposure as buds form more prolifically in full sunlight.
  • Keep the plant well-watered during the bud formation stage to support the developing flowers.
  • Apply a phosphorus-rich fertilizer to encourage blooming.


  • Ignore signs of pests or disease on buds, as early intervention can save a crop of flowers.
  • Let the soil become too dry, which can stress the plant and reduce bud formation.
  • Over-fertilize with nitrogen-heavy formulas, which can lead to more leaves and fewer flowers.

Stage 7: Moonflower Flowering

Stage 7 - Moonflower Flowering

Duration: 1 night per flower; continuous throughout the growing season once it begins

The flowering stage of moonflowers is particularly dramatic because each bloom unfurls in the evening and lasts through the night, closing again the following morning. This stage typically begins mid to late summer and continues until the first autumn frost.

Moonflowers bloom sequentially, with new flowers opening each night on different parts of the vine. Regular deadheading (removing spent flowers) can encourage more blooms, though moonflowers generally continue to produce new flowers throughout the season without much need for intervention​.


  • Enjoy the nightly display by positioning moonflowers where you can see them during evening hours.
  • Maintain consistent soil moisture to aid the development of flowers.
  • Promote continuous blooming by deadheading old blooms, which helps the plant redirect its energy toward producing more flowers.


  • Miss the opportunity to observe nocturnal pollinators like moths, which are attracted to the flowers.
  • Overwater, as this can lead to fungal diseases, especially during cooler night temperatures.
  • Forget to support the heavy flowering vines adequately.

Must Read: Prickly Pear Cactus Growth Stages

Stage 8: Moonflower Seed Production and Collection

Stage 8 - Moonflower Seed Production and Collection

Duration: Several weeks from bloom to mature seed pod

After the flowers have been pollinated, typically by night-flying insects like moths, they will begin to form seed pods. These pods initially appear green and gradually turn brown as they mature, a process that can take several weeks depending on the climate and conditions.

Harvesting the seeds at the right time—when the pods are brown but before they open and disperse the seeds—is crucial for successful collection. The seeds inside these pods can be stored and used for planting in the following season, provided they are kept in a cool, dry place​.


  • Allow some flowers to mature into seed pods if you plan to collect seeds.
  • Harvest seed pods when they turn brown but before they open and disperse seeds.
  • Store seeds in a cool, dry place to maintain viability until the next planting season.


  • Collect seeds from unhealthy or diseased plants, as this can perpetuate problems in future generations.
  • Open pods prematurely; seeds must be fully mature to be viable.
  • Forget to label stored seeds with the date and plant type for future reference.

Stage 9: Moonflower Pruning and Maintenance

Stage 9 - Moonflower Pruning and Maintenance

Duration: Throughout the growing season and especially post-bloom

Regular maintenance of moonflower vines includes pruning to manage growth and improve air circulation, which can help prevent disease. After the flowering season, pruning involves cutting back the spent vines to tidy up the plant and encourage new growth in the next season, if the vines are being grown as perennials in warmer climates.

In cooler climates where moonflowers are grown as annuals, the entire plant may be removed after it dies back​​.


  • Prune back dead or overgrown vines at the end of the blooming season to maintain plant health and appearance.
  • Clean up fallen debris and dead plant material to minimize disease and pest risks.
  • Prepare perennial vines for the next season by thinning out dense growth.


  • Prune too early, as moonflowers can continue to bloom into the fall.
  • Leave dead plant material on the ground around the plants, which can attract pests and disease.
  • Over-prune, which can stress the plant and reduce the next season’s growth.

Stage 10: Moonflower Overwintering (if applicable)

Stage 10 - Moonflower Overwintering

Duration: Autumn to Spring (for perennials in warmer climates)

Overwintering moonflower plants is a stage that applies primarily in regions where moonflowers can be grown as perennials (USDA zones 10-12). In these warmer climates, moonflowers may not die back entirely but will likely go through a period of reduced activity during cooler months.

In cooler climates (zones below 10), moonflowers are typically treated as annuals. In these cases, the plants die back after the first frost, and new plants are grown from seeds each year.


  • Reduce watering as the plant goes dormant to mimic natural conditions.
  • Protect roots from freezing temperatures by mulching or moving containers indoors if applicable.
  • Check on stored plants periodically throughout the winter to ensure they aren’t too dry or showing signs of stress or disease.


  • Overwater or keep the plant in a warm room, which can stimulate it out of dormancy prematurely.
  • Neglect to provide adequate light if overwintering indoors, which can weaken the plant.
  • Ignore pest problems on indoor plants, which can spread rapidly in a contained environment.

See Also: Peony Growing Stages with Pictures


This guide has walked you through the various stages of growing moonflowers, from seed selection to overwintering, detailing the necessary steps to ensure a thriving plant that enhances your garden with its fragrant, nocturnal flowers.

😍 If you have any feedback, additional tips, or questions based on your own experiences with moonflowers, please share them in the comments below. Your insights could be invaluable to fellow gardeners.

Information Sources:

Here at RASNetwork Gardening, integrity and accuracy are at the core of our content creation, with every article solidly backed by peer-reviewed research and reliable references. See the list of trusted sources used in this article below.

1. Ipomoea alba | NC State Extension
2. Suspected Moonflower Intoxication | CDC

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