Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flowers Made from Moons

It started when we were at the Farmers’ Market at the end of last summer and I spotted a moonflower (Datura) plant at one of the booths. It had a single, huge, beautiful bloom on it. Miss A had grown Moonflower vines before, which are actually not Datura, but Ipomoea (belonging to the morning glory family). The last time I've seen a moonflower plant/bush was in my grandmother's garden when I was younger. I immediately snatched up the market plant and brought it back with us where it found a home in the gate bed. After allowing the plant to naturally drop some seeds from the prehistoric looking pod, I clipped the pod off and saved the remaining seeds for the following year.

At the beginning of June this year, there were several seedlings well on their way in the gate bed. There was no need for me to plant any of the seeds I'd collected the season before. I moved the seedlings forward in the bed just a bit so they wouldn't collide with the white bleeding heart I’d planted behind them. The timing has worked out well. As the bleeding heart starts to fade back, the moonflowers begin to take center stage. Also, the large size and fragrance of the blooms make the moonflower a perfect addition to a moonlight garden. Bonus.

One thing I am doing different this year is that I am deadheading the blooms on the moonflower. The blossoms often open as white trumpets in early morning and last a day at most. My plant's flowers seem to last a bit longer, but I think this is due to the fact it only get partial sun during the day. The neck of the stem bends and the bloom droops like a wet tissue. The bloom will eventually drop and the seed pod with begin to form. Instead of letting the plant do this, I clip the spent bloom off just behind the stem. This has been encouraging the plant to send out even more flowers. My plan is to continue this until the weather grows colder. At that time, I'll let the plant form it's pods and hopefully self-seed as it did the year before.

One last note, I have read that Datura are poisonous if ingested, so I have to be sure my four-legged garden helpers do not chew on it. They show more interest in the bumblebees buzzing around the blooms than they do with the plant itself. Even so, like the foxglove, this plant is dangerous to pets. The kittens are never left unattended when around the moonflower.

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