One gardener's weed is another’s favorite flower. Take Lunaria, for instance. It is also called money plant, honesty, moonwort, and silver dollar plant. This beautiful biennial flower creates interest in the garden year-round. And yet, some think of it as nothing more than a weed. However, an early investment in this easy-to-grow flower will pay you back in dividends.
Adding Lunaria to Your Garden
Lunaria, or money plant, is an adaptable native plant in Europe. Also called honesty, this common cottage garden plant crossed the pond with the early colonists. It was even grown in Thomas Jefferson’s garden in Monticello.
The silvery iridescent seed pods that the money plant is so famous for are also why some gardeners consider it a weed. Over the winter, when the rest of the garden is bare, the oval silicles look like little moons dancing in the light. Branches full of silver dollars make an excellent addition to dried floral arrangements.
So why is money plant sometimes considered a weed? Because it grows so easily! Money plant can grow in all kinds of soil and full sun to partial shade. Lunaria self-seeds, and although not a perennial, it can seem that way because seeds sprout year after year.
Purple flowers rise on tall stems from mounds of green foliage and then fade to give way to iridescent seed pods. Lunaria is an optimal choice for wildflower and cottage gardens.
How to Grow Money Plant from Seed
Money plant is an easy-to-grow biennial. Lunaria seeds can be sown outdoors from spring until fall.
In USDA Hardiness zones 8-10, seeds can be sown in fall.
Seed Germination Tips
Plant Lunaria seeds 1/4” deep.
Warm soil helps germination. Use a heating mat to keep the temperature between 60-75ºF.
Keep seeds moist until they germinate in 10 to 14 days.
Lunaria seeds need light to germinate.
Transplanting Money Plant
Lunaria plants develop a long tap root and can be sensitive to transplant shock. If starting seeds indoors, transplant them while the seedlings are small. Take time to harden off seedlings and be careful not to disturb the roots when transplanting.
Growing Money Plant
Money plant grows easily and doesn’t require any maintenance or special care once it is established.
In the first year, money plant will grow into a small, rounded plant of green foliage. The leaves are almost heart-shaped with sawtoothed edges. The following year, tall stems will reach two to three feet tall and produce purple flowers. As the flowers fade, green seed pods will appear. The pods will turn brown and dry up as the year goes on. Once dry, the two sides of the pod will fall off, releasing the seeds. An oval iridescent membrane will remain looking like silvery moons fluttering in the wind.
Lunaria will grow in full sun to part shade. It is often found growing on the edges of forests where it receives dappled sunlight. However, you will get more blooms in a sunny location with 8 hours of sun.
Money plant is adaptable and can grow almost anywhere. But for the best blooms and silver dollar seed pods, plant it in fertile, well-draining soil.
The long taproot allows Lunaria to grow in many climates, but still prefers about 1 inch of water per week. Drier locations may need additional water. Try to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Space Lunaria plants 12 to 18 inches apart to give them room to spread. They can grow 2 to 3 feet high when they start producing flowers.
Money plant doesn’t need extra fertilizer if grown in fertile soil. But again, this plant is very adaptable and will appreciate whatever you give it. A slow-release balanced fertilizer applied in the spring can keep it growing and flowering.
Harvesting Silver Dollars
Harvesting silver dollar plant is where your investment pays off. The shimmering moons on tall stalks are a unique addition to dried floral arrangements.
If you want to keep silver dollar plants from spreading, cut the stalks before they have a chance to spread their seeds. Once the seed pods have fully developed, cut stems and hang them upside down to dry.
When the outside layers of the pods have completely dried, they can be easily removed by gently rubbing them. Then, only the iridescent membrane will remain.
Lunaria, money plant, honesty, moonwort, silver dollar plant, whatever you call it, don’t miss the chance to grow this delightful heirloom flower.
Let the magic of Lunaria bloom in your backyard and harvest your own silver treasure.
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