Anyone try growing Datura or Moonflower?

aikanae(z9b AZ)March 11, 2009

I'm getting seeds of Datura and Moonflower in a trade. Anyone try these or have luck with them?


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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hi there,

I love daturas, they're one of my very favorite flowers. I've grown them here in the Phoenix area for several years and really, really enjoy them. I've carried plants and seeds to and from various gardens.

Since this past winter was so mild, my daturas didn't die to the ground in dormancy like they do some years, so they have a head start this year and are already making their first flower buds of the season. I'm excited. I love the scent, and the crazy large size, and the fact that they open in the evening when I can really enjoy them.

They're easy to grow and keep happy. My best plants get half a day sun (though they will tolerate full sun, but will be a bit stunted). Planted against an east-facing wall is a terrific spot so they get gentle morning sun, mid day sun, and then they are shielded from the hottest afternoon sun. I toss a little water on them once or twice a week in summer and that's it. They will self-sow and you'll have plenty of babies to share or relocate.

During chilly winters (for here) they will die to the ground, but they pop right up when the temps warm up.

The only "trouble" I've ever had with them is that their seeds usually need stratification, where they get alternating cool, warm, wet, dry conditions to sprout. So if I get seeds and plant them in a nice pot indoors they often don't sprout, but if I take those same pots and put them outside in autumn the seeds sprout in spring after they "know" they've had a winter and it's over. I hope that makes sense. If I want extras, I plant the seed outside in the ground or in pots in autum and have seedlings in spring (like now).

Some commercial seed is pre-treated to sprout, so that's not an issue, and sometimes seed is old enough that it's ready to sprout without treatment, so give them a try indoors if you'd like. Just remember if they don't sprout they may do so later. I've have some where I planted five seeds and one sprouts right away, and I plant the whole pot of soil into the ground, and then not until the following spring do the other four seeds sprout, lol. Anyway, once you get your first plant up and growing you're set. I remove fading blossoms for most of the summer so that the plant keeps blooming, then in late summer I let a few flowers stay on the plant to become seed pods and I just scatter the seeds in the ground or in pots when the seed pods break open. I do love daturas! Just remember they're pretty toxic (which is different from poisonous) to most mammals.

Tomato hornworms love to eat their foliage too, but I don't mind when I have large plants since the hornworms become the beautiful hovering hawkmoths that will come back to pollinate the blooms during summer nights. If you don't like them, or don't like the damage, you can sprinkle BT bacteria on the foliage and it will kill the caterpillars, but again I just let them go as long as the bulk of the plant is okay.

I've had the best luck with Datura meteloides, but have several other species growing too. Good luck!

I haven't tried moonflowers here, so maybe someone else can share. Again, keep us posted. :)

Take care and have fun,

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 6:41PM
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aikanae(z9b AZ)

Wow. That's great information. Thank you.

What I'm getting is white datura seeds (in a trade, I think they are fresh) and obviously it's not autumn. Should I try putting them in the refrigerator for a little while - in dark, then light, then warm them up and finally plant them?

I'm really excited about seeing them grow. So far I've had better luck with semi-tropical plants than arid ones. My property is in a depression (old wash), so I get the area's run-off. I also don't seem to get as cold/hot as even a mile away. I tried growing an apple tree once and finally resorted to carrying ice out at 4am trying to get 100 chill hours (never again). Based on your web page, I'm not far away from you.

Is the bt the same stuff used on grape skelentonizers? Those buggers ate my attempt at a passion vine.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 3:39AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hi there,

If it were me, I'd probably just plant the seeds now and if they don't come up, either expect them next spring or just move them to the fridge for two months and bring them back out, but I imagine if you plant them now at least some will come up. Keep us posted as they really are fun plants.

Yes, bt is the bacteria that kills almost all caterpillars, and folks do use it to protect passion vines etc.

My datura should open its first bloom of the season this week--I'm really excited. I've got it near some night flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) and some white-flowering evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) so that part of the garden is very, very nicely scented at night and early in the morning. Love it.

Nice that your garden is moderated a bit--that's good for you and your plants.

Keep us posted on these plants. I'm adding a link to Thompson and Morgan which you probably already know, but someone reading along might not. They carry several datura seeds that are pre-stratified so they pop right up when planted.

Take care,

Here is a link that might be useful: Thompson and Morgan's datura listing

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 2:35PM
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Datura are closely related to Brugmansia, which has its own forum on here. Pop over into the Brug forum and people there will be able to answer any questions you have, as a lot of them grow both.

As for moonflower, if you're referring to Ipomoea, commonly called moonflower, they are a controlled plant in Arizona. If I'm not mistaken, they are considered highly invasive and no reputable seed seller will ship them to Arizona.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 4:30PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hey, how did those seeds work out? Did you plant them? Have they sprouted? We'd love to see or hear an update. :)

Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:58PM
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