Alberta's Best Garden Blog

Night-Blooming Plants

We’re used to the full spectrum of blooming beauty we find in our gardens throughout the day. For many of our favourite flower, the sun is like a shot of a concentrated 5-hour energy drink that brings the best out of them. But did you know some plants prefer the more easy-going, less full-frontal light of the moon to bloom by? It’s true! Much like vampires, here are some blooms that prefer to come alive at night.

What is Moon Gardening?

A moon garden is made up of night blooming flowers that seem to glow under the light of the moon. Flowers with glossy white petals are particularly popular for moon gardens, as they become illuminated when they reflect moonbeams, creating a mystical, eerie glow that seems almost otherworldly. Not only that, but many night-blooming flowers emit a gorgeous fragrance that you can enjoy even on cloudy nights when the moonlight isn’t too bright. If you’re big into late nights on the patio and entertaining guests with some after dinner drinks, you’ll love having a luminous moon garden to lounge around in. But these gardens aren’t just for show! On top of being totally beautiful and out-of-this-world, moon gardens bring some pretty great benefits to the table.  

The Benefits of Planting a Moon Garden

Pollinators don’t do all of their work during the day— there are a lot of pollinators that prefer working overnight, visiting flowers after dark to get their fill on sweet nectar. Moths, squash bees, and even bats have been known to visit Alberta gardens at nighttime. The more fragrant night-blooming plants there are, the more likely they are to keep visiting. White blooms that glow under the moon really stand out and the strong scent they produce is highly attractive to pollinators working the night shift.

It isn’t just pollinators that appear at nighttime in moon gardens, either— the glowing white blossoms lure in birds and beneficial bugs that enjoy feasting on the winged creatures that we aren’t as fond of: biting insects. Mosquitoes will get gobbled up, and you can enjoy late nights on the porch without worrying about your ankles getting bitten incessantly.  

The Best Moon Garden Flowers

Any night-blooming flower could be a viable addition to your night garden, but the ones with the most impact are the ones that boast delicate white petals and intoxicating fragrance. Here are some of our top picks for your moon garden:

Night Blooming Jasmine: Nothing beats the soothing scent of jasmine when its blossoms open each night. They actually close back up during the day, so they work some serious magic once they reopen in the evening, releasing one of the strongest scents of any flower, detectable up to 500 ft away. They produce fresh blooms as many as four times per year, so you’ll get to enjoy this gorgeous flowering shrub for months and months.

Night Blooming Cereus: This is actually a group of plants — cacti, to be specific — that produce distinctive white blossoms that resemble a cup surrounded by a fan of feathers. While they bloom much more infrequently than jasmine, I think it’s still worth it to pick a few up for your night garden. The flowers on these guys are remarkably beautiful.

Moonflower: With a name like that, you can bet these flowers belong in a moon garden! Also known as tropical white morning-glory, these nighttime bloomers have tall, twisting stems that intertwine with one another. As soon as the bright summer sun hits its petals, they’ll close up, but if it’s rainy or overcast you might notice that the blooms stay open for a while during the day.

Angel’s Trumpets: These downward-facing white blooms look like fancy white-skirted ladies dangling from lush canopies of leaves. While they are incredibly beautiful under the moonlight and are incredibly effective at attracting pollinators, take caution — this is one of the more poisonous garden plants out there. If you have curious pets that like to roam the garden, this one might be a no-no.

Mock Orange: This popular shrub doesn’t actually produce oranges, or even orange coloured flowers. Instead, it gets its name from the fabulous citrus scent it produces from its clusters of frilly white blossoms. You’ll love the smell just as much as the bees and hummingbirds do!

Snowdrops: These lovely bell-shaped blossoms are doubly useful in a moon garden because they help to repel hungry rabbits, mice, chipmunks and deer. They are incredibly early bloomers, showing off a fresh set of blossoms pretty early in the spring and going back into dormancy by summertime. They much prefer our colder Canadian climate, sometimes sprouting up while there’s still snow on the ground.

Nocturnal plants that glow in the night and fill the air with perfume make for a pretty impressive backdrop for date night, or entertaining friends late into the evening. Put down a blanket, crack open a bottle of wine and bask in the ambience of your ethereal moon garden.

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