Harvesting Moonflower Seeds

Patches(Southern Ontario-7)October 24, 2006

Hi: it is getting pretty cold here and I'm worried about losing my seed pods on my Moonflower plant. I've left the seed pods on the plant in the hopes that they would become brown and dry (which is preferable I hear) but this is not happening I guess because of damp (lots of rain). Should I cut the pods off and bring them in, lay out on paper until they dry, or take a chance and wait a week or so in case weather warms up as I've heard should only be harvested when its dry and sunny (LOL!). Thanks in advance for advice and looking forward to spring already! P.S.: This year was exceptionally good for my moonflower!

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sammyqc(NE Quebec/zn 4/5a)

Hi there. Is this a datura, or what plant are you talking about? There are a few different plants that are refered to as moonflower.
If it is datura, just cut off the seed pods and bring them in to dry. I usually lay them on newspaper in a box, and they will split open on their own. Just scoop out the seeds when they do, as the pod itself is so fleshy it tends to get moldy pretty fast.
The seeds will survive the winter and reseed in the garden on its own too.
And if it's not datura you are talking about, hopefully someone else will chime in.
Sam.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 9:31PM
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Patches(Southern Ontario-7)

Hi Sam, It was good to see your reply  many thanks! My plant is a "true" moonflower (Impoea) with a wonderful fragrance, not the Datura species which I believe is an annual plant also called Jimson weed (because in Jamestown in 1676, it poisoned soldiers who made the fresh leaves into a soup. It's also called Devil's Weed). I have some good photos and haven't had time to scan them to upload jpegs. I'm just worried if I leave the pods on the vine will they be no good but I think now I must risk leaving them on the plant since viewing other posts where they were removed before becoming dry and went moldy or amounted to nothing (Currently it is 4 degrees Centrigade which I thinks translates to 40 Farenheit approximately!)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 10:51PM
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sammyqc(NE Quebec/zn 4/5a)

Hi again. I would go ahead and take the seed pods in. Or are they similiar to the morning glory pods? I think either way, they'll probably be fine. I've taken some green pods from morning glories, and some that are dark, and they all seem to germinate fairly well. The greener ones, I just lay them out on newspaper and let them dry out. And we've had below O Celsius before I have harvested some of them, they are tougher than you think.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 11:24PM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

The Ipomoea moonflower really should ripen on the vine. I have tried taking unripe ones in early a couple of times when a frost threatened, and they weren't any good when I planted them in the spring.

But, if you leave them out and they freeze, then they'll be ruined too...

So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't :-). The darned things take so long to ripen. You have to go out and take a good look at them and look for ones that are just starting to dry - those ones should be fine. The others should be left until the last possible minute. Some of the unripe ones will be far enough along that they will be good, so if you have to take them in now, you may as well try.

When dry, viable seeds will be white or beige. Duds will be brown.

BP

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 11:38AM
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Patches(Southern Ontario-7)

Hello to both Sammyqc and bonniepunch. Well I took a chance and two nights ago brought in 4 pods! This evening when I checked on them 3 'rattle' when I shake them so I am taking this as a good sign that the seeds inside have dried. I brought one more pod in tonight which is still 'soft' and a bit green. What I found truly amazing is that last season my plant grew from ONE harvested seed and seemed to be more robust than previous years grown from packaged seeds which did not give me the prolific blooms as from this harvested seed. I'll be bringing more seed pods in as I see them 'crisp' (?) up ... I have so many people who admired my moonflower blossoms and scent to share these seeds with that I just hope they are fruitful!
Thanks to you both for responding as it means a great deal to get feedback from "gardenwebers" with a sincere interest.
Let's "think" spring ... cheers from Patches :)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 10:24PM
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Patches(Southern Ontario-7)

It was great to get posts from both Sammy and bonniepunch: Well here's what I have done. On Oct. 26th I brought in 4 pods and left them out on an airy 'trivet' affair. Tonight when I checked them and shook the pods I could hear the seeds rattle inside. So I'm thinking "Yippee! ... they are drying okay." So I brought one more in tonight which is a bit on the green side and I'll see what it's like tomorrow night. In the meantime I've left about 15 pods on the plant and will check them again on Sunday. With fingers crossed, here's hoping for a good harvest. If this latest 'green' pod dries out okay I'll clip of the rest nd will let you all know how it goes! [Bring on spring ...]

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 3:58AM
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jannabeen(z5 US/z6 Canada)

A tangential question: when is the optimal time to plant Moonflower outdoors for zone 6?

I have a couple of Moonflower vines that I grew this year from seeds harvested last year from plants bought at a nursery. Although the vines were very vigorous, they started flowering too late and NO seed pods formed. I'm a bit disappointed because I did start them out indoors.

Cheers, Jannabeen

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 10:28PM
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lucidity

Jannabean- I have tried these things from seed and from the nursery every year. Planted them in different locations and EVERY year they flower too late for me. I just love them but this is the 4th year in a row and now I'm done. My plants were just loaded with buds and developing flowers this year- I was sooo excited and then frost came and they all died. That is my last shot at it unless someone can come up with an earlier blooming variety. Argh!!! lol

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 8:57AM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

I have discovered that there are three secrets to growing these vines. The first one is that they need to be started about eight weeks before your last frost date (and they need to be protected from any cold snap), the second trick is to plant them in the hottest place in your yard. Finally, and this is the most important one - don't fertilize them with any fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content.

I usually get the first blooms appearing in mid to late July, and they bloom until they are killed by the frost. Keeping the squirrels from eating all my seeds is my main problem!

BP

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 11:50AM
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Patches(Southern Ontario-7)

Hi everyone ... I'm very happy to report that I have 8 moonflower pods which have successfully dried but I won't open them yet just to be sure. I still have about 10 left on the plant and will leave them until November 11th  Remembrance Day when it will be warming up to around 16°C  I think that's about 65°F  Yippee!! (Currently around 2°C which I think translates to around 34°F ...brr.) Last year I put the seeds the freezer quite a few weeks before I was ready to start them. This year I was very late getting them started but even so I had great large beautiful blooms and it was lovely to sit outside after coming home from work to the wonderful fragrance. I'm ready for Spring!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 6:30PM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

If the pods have dried you can open them up. You only really need a half a dozen good seeds to have a nice display, so you've almost certainly got what you'll need. Of course more than that is great - more vines means more flowers...

You don't need to put the seeds in the freezer - in fact I would advise against that. They can be killed by freezing, especially if they are in a moist environment. I store mine at room temperature.

BP

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 12:13AM
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Patches(Southern Ontario-7)

Really? That's interesting about not freezing them. I'd read somewhere it's a good idea to do that and it worked with some seeds that I'd harvested about 1999 (morning glories, nasturiums) so I tried it with moonflower. This time around I'll try just freezing a couple a few days ahead of planting and keep them separate from those I DON'T freeze as a test to see what happens. And I thought it was cold HERE?? If you're in zone 4 .. you are in Nebraska or Monanta ... now that's chilly for sure. Looking forward to warmer temps ... Cheers, patches

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 12:51AM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

Some morning glory seeds (or Ipomoea in general) can take freezing and some can't. Partly it depends on what sort they are, and partly it depends on how they are frozen. I have some unidentified pink and some white & blue striped morning glories that self seed every year. Their seeds can handle the cold and damp with no problem. "Heavenly Blue' morning glory or cardinal climber seeds, on the other hand, never survive those winter conditions.

Moonflower seeds can tolerate some freezing, but only if there is no moisture involved. If the seed is not fully dried they will almost certainly not survive. This is why I'd recommend you don't store them in the freezer - they don't benefit from it, and it can harm them. Better safe than sorry :-)

BP

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 9:28AM
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brenda158(z5bHamilton,ON)

they really do well with winter sowing.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 12:17AM
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Patches(Southern Ontario-7)

Had to post back here to show off my moonflowers developed from those seeds I was worried about harvesting (in a post about one year ago)! Notice how small this pot is! I'm so happy - I have dozens of seeds this year.

and here's that plant reaching for the crossbar on my awning:

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 2:44PM
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