Night Flowers

Moon Flower by Moonlight

There seems something magical about flowers that come out in the late evening – night flowers. And the most fascinating for me are moon flowers. I received my first seed pod from a neighbor and threw it, according to her directions, on the ground in a window well. When the seed pod ripens, it turns brown and splits open, spilling black seeds on the ground. They are as prickly as they look.

Green seed pod.

They came up and they grew and they grew and they grew. By late summer I had to take pruners to them because they were blocking our back door. In the fall we would cut back the thick stalk and drag the plant across the road to our compost heap in the woods – and this went on for several years.

Moon :Flower by Morning Light

Friends saw them and wanted some. I gave them seeds and I dug up volunteers but most of the time they didn’t like their new environment. In the mean time I was bringing up compost from across the road to amend my clay soil and I had moon flowers coming up like weeds in all my beds.

Fast forward 30 years and we have built a new house and I really wanted to grow moon flowers. I had saved seed pods from the previous year and they took. I had moon flowers. I also had the horribly heavy clay soil again so I went to get some compost to start amending – and I got more moon flowers. Those little buggers had lived in the compost for years waiting for a little sun.

I’m not sure how these got started but I don’t think I intentionally planted them because this is too small a place for them. On the other side of the bed it our garage door and one is working its way inside.

It seems like the hotter and drier it gets, the more it thrives. This is mid afternoon and there are no blooms, just wilted ones hanging – but there are lots of buds waiting for another evening. I haven’t seen any problems with mildew or black spot or bugs of any kind. The only thing that is a threat is the great big cabbage worm that will do major damage before I see it.

It is easy to romanticize moon flowers because they are so big, and such a pure white and even remind me of Easter lilies except more beautiful – they point their trumpets towards the heavens.

With all my pontification on the wonders of moon flowers, I have left the best for last. Just after the sun sets, just before dark, the buds start to unfurl. They do it so quickly I find myself watching and holding my breath – but it actually takes longer than I can go without breathing. It takes about a half an hour – you can see them quiver as they strain to open. It is my goal to make a time-lapse of this opening but first I have to learn how to do it on my new camera :).

They will still be blooming when I return from Canada and I promise to post this miraculous event for you.

Copyright © Patricia A. Bailey and I Miss Me, Too/imissmetoo.me 2012-2013.

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