Between work, family, and an endless to-do list, most of us don’t get to sit down and relax until after the day is over. So shouldn’t your garden be at its best at night when you can enjoy it? Planting a night garden, sometimes called a moon garden or evening garden, will fill your yard with plants that bloom or release fragrance in the evening. (Be careful not to plant too many different scents in one garden, though—the combination of fragrances could be overwhelming.)
Mix in some non-scented showy white blooms, such as hydrangeas or camellias, and plants with white or silver variegated foliage that will reflect the moonlight. Plants with dramatic leaves can also create interesting shadows in a night garden. As usual, check the plant’s hardiness in your area and ask your local garden supplier for advice about what would work best in your yard. Here are some of our favorite nighttime stars.
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
Ricardo Reitmeyer/E+/Getty ImagesThis relative of the morning glory has huge, white flowers up to 6 inches in diameter that bloom only at night and release a powerful scent, says Weekend Gardener. Plant next to an arbor, trellis, or fence that can support its vining tendrils as it climbs.
Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia spp.)
Tia Magallon/Botanica/Getty ImagesLarge trumpets up to a foot long hang down from this fast-growing tropical plant, making it a showstopper at night. The white, peach or yellow blooms release an intoxicating fragrance, according to gardening expert P. Allen Smith. The impressive plant grows from six to 20 feet tall.
Silver Sage (Salvia argentea)
Garden Picture/Photolibrary/Getty ImagesThis plant’s dramatic silver foliage looks spectacular in the moonlight, according to the blog Longwood Gardens: Behind the Plants. Other plants with silvery, reflective leaves include licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare), dusty miller (Centaurea gymnocarpa), silver Artemisia (Artemisia ludoviciana), lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina), and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).
Night Phlox (Zaluzianskya capensis)
Chris Burrows/GAP Photos/Getty ImagesAt dusk, the flowers of this plant, known as ‘Midnight Candy,’ open to release a honey-almond-vanilla fragrance, says Weekend Gardener.
Striped Giant Reed (Arundo donax ‘Variegata’)
Photos Lamontagne/Garden Picture Library/Getty ImagesNot only do the variegated leaves pick up the moonlight, this plant creates dramatic bold shadows in the evening, according to Longwood Gardens: Behind the Plants. Another option is variegated ribbon grass (Phalaris), a white and green variegated foliage that is blushed with pink.
Night-Blooming Jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum)
© Robert Pilla/Flickr/Getty ImagesThis evergreen flowering bush known as Queen of Night releases a heady fragrance when its small white flowers open at night, says Garden Care Simplified. Don't plant it too close to open windows, porches, or patios because its scent can be overwhelming.
Night-Blooming Cereus (Selenicereus)
Toshiro Shimada/Flickr/Getty ImagesThis cactus is known for its large, fragrant, night-blooming white flowers, says Gardening Gone Wild.
Four O' Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)
Anna Yu/Photodisc/Getty ImagesThis plant's flowers open as the temperature drops, says Mr. Brown Thumb, rather than at a certain time as its common name implies. Its colorful trumpet-shaped flowers release a jasmine-like perfume.
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata)
Maria Mosolova/Photodisc/Getty ImagesSmall, white, tubular blooms begin opening at dusk and emit an intense jasmine-like fragrance, according to gardening expert P. Allen Smith.
Night Gladiolus (Gladiolus tristis)
Marcus Harpur/GAP Photos/Getty ImagesThis plant features creamy yellow blossoms with an intensely spicy night fragrance, according to Weekend Gardener.