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The Best Ways to Germinate White Moonflower Seeds

Fragrant 4 to 6 inch wide flowers give white moonflower (Ipomoea alba) its name they open in early evening and close before noon on the next day. Department of Agriculture zones 9 through 12 but grows as an annual in most zones. In places with cool summers, give white moonflower a protected warm spot with heat reflected from a wall. Treat seeds for best germination.

Seeds White moonflower's hard dark brown to yellow seeds have a tough coating because they are distributed by drifting in water often the oceans to reach a new growing site. This accounts for their wide pantropic distribution. Broadly oval seeds are wider at the top than at the bottom. One side is rounded, and the other side with the hilum or attachment scar at the top is flattened or indented, depending on how many seeds were in the pod. The hilum is where the seed was attached to the seed pod. The pods themselves are ornamental pointed brown structures. White moonflower vines grown as annuals in cooler areas often don't receive the heat and length of growing season to successfully develop mature seeds. The dry seeds are about the size of a corn kernel.

Stratification The process of softening a hard seed coat so that water can enter the seed's interior and initiate germination is called stratification. Cornell University Extension recommends soaking seeds overnight as one means of scarification. However, the Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Necklace fake quickest path to germination is to make a nick in the seed coat before soaking the seeds. Use a file, nail clipper or small sharp knife to scrape or cut away a small piece of the seed coat on the end opposite the hilum the narrower end of the seed. You can also use a piece of coarse sandpaper to grind down the seed coat until you some white shows through. The main advantage of physically weakening the seed coat over just soaking the seed is that it speeds up germination.

Soaking and Germination After notching, soak the seeds in warm water preferably kept warm in an old thermos for 24 to 48 hours. Germination should begin in four to 14 days as opposed to 14 to 21 days for seeds that have just received soaking alone. Plant the treated seeds in 3 inch peat pots filled with soilless potting mix. White moonflower doesn't like to have its roots disturbed, so peat pots allow roots to penetrate the container and continue growing. Put one to three seeds per pot and cover them with 1/4 inch of potting mix. Firm it down over the seed. Water the potting mix well. Put the pots in a warm spot, and watch for emergence of seed leaves.

Seedlings Keep seedlings moist. If the weather hasn't warmed sufficiently for planting moonflowers into the garden by the time the seedling has filled out the initial peat pot, put it into a larger peat pot. If you put three seeds into each peat pot, observe the seedlings as they develop and cut off the two weakest plants below the soil line. When all danger of frost has past and weather is warm, put a sturdy trellis or arbor not just stakes in place and plant the seedling where it can clamber over the structure. Fortunate gardeners may have a pergola or porch for the vine to grow on. They can sit under it on a summer evening, surrounded by the fragrance and luminosity of white moonflower blossoms.

References (6) Annuals for Every Purpose; Larry HodgsonThe New Orleans Garden: Gardening in the Gulf South; Charlotte SeidenbergTaylor's Weekend Gardening Guide to Fragrant Gardens; Peter LoewerSea Bean: A Sea Bean Guide: White Moonflower, Moon Vine, Evening GloryAnnuals for Every Garden, Issue 174; Scott AppellCornell University Extension Growing Guide: Moonflower

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