The Q&A Archives: Sprouting moon flower

Question: This concerns your MOONFLOWER(giant white), Calonyction Aculeatum. I grew this when I was in The Phillipine Islands and fell in love with it. It is simply fascinating to watch these huge flowers open just after sunset. That was in 1974. Since then, I have tried to find them but didn't know their name. Last year I stumbled across them in a store and purchased two packets of seeds. Iwas able to get only about five seeds to germinate and grow. They did well until temperatures became colder. They did not have enough sun during the day to complete thier growth. Just when they developed buds they did from cold. This year I have been trying to start them inside under grow lights. Out of two dozen seeds, only one sprouted and is now about eight inches tall and starting to climb. It appears to be very healthy and is growing vigorously in only three weeks time. It was planted 1/22/97. My question is: Why only one out of twenty-four? The other seeds I dug up out of their pots and they were all rotted. What am I doing wrong? I purchased six packets of seeds this year in hopes of getting at least six plants growing. This year I will plant them where they will get full sun most of the day. But why only one or two seeds out of each packet. I've tried wet soil, damp soil, even nearly dry soil, but nothing seems to work well. The one that is doing so well sprouted in just three days. I am determined to make these grow even if I have to purchase two dozen packets of seeds or more. The ones I have now are labeled PACKED FOR 1997 LOT 5 . John H. Livingston Baldwinsville, NY

Answer: Moon flower has a impermeable seed coat. You need to nick or chip the seed coat so water can enter. File the seed coat (avoid the area around the embryo, which is nearer the pointy end of the seed) until you see a change in color...STOP! You can soak the seed overnight in warm water and then sow as you have before. A file or fine sand paper will do the trick!

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