Nighttime Blooms and Pollinators
Did you know some flowers bloom only at night or get more fragrant at night? Some do, and with a bit of research, you could make your very own moon garden! Doesn’t that sound magical? Nighttime bloomers can reflect moonlight, add color to your garden, be more fragrant than daytime bloomers, and help boost the ecosystem.
20 Nighttime Blooms For a Moon Garden
This flower blooms from late spring to late summer. It attracts pollinators like myths, bees, and butterflies. It blooms quickly (so you can watch the magic happen) and stays open until about noon the following day. It is edible, medicinal, and the source of evening primrose oil.
Moonflowers have large white or pink flowers. They open quickly in the evening and stay open until just after sunrise. They are said to have a soft lemon scent.
Datura looks a lot like a moonflower and it is commonly called devil’s trumpet. It has large, trumpet-shaped blossoms and comes in shades of pink, purple, yellow, or white. They are highly poisonous, so use caution when planting them.
Brugmansia, or angel’s trumpet, is often confused with devil’s trumpet (datura). They can easily be distinguished; angel’s trumpet is more of a bush and can be grown as a tree, while devil’s trumpet is a leafy plant, usually low growing. Angel’s trumpet blooms come in peach, white, green, red, orange, or pink trumpet-shaped flowers that hang down, pointing towards the ground. They have a wonderful fragrance, but are highly poisonous and should be planted with caution.
Night gladiolus blooms late spring to mid-summer. They have light yellow flowers and a spicy fragrance. This is also another poisonous plant.
Night Phlox, sometimes called midnight candy, has a wonderfully sweet scent. It comes in shades of pink, white, purple, or reddish-maroon. It attracts butterflies, bees, and birds. The smell is delightful and is described as honey/almond/vanilla.
Night Blooming Jasmine
This jasmine is a nightshade. It has white blossoms with a hint of green and a strong fragrance. Unfortunately, it is also toxic, so use caution when planting.
While this flower doesn’t always bloom at night, the fragrance releases when the sun goes down. The flowers are white and yellow, but hardly ever open. They don’t require pollinators.
Nicotiana comes in shades of white, pink, green, and red. They have a strong fragrance and attract many pollinators like hummingbirds. They are in the same family as tobacco, but they are a nightshade, so use caution when planting.
Four o’clocks (or Marvel of Peru) are one of my favorite flowers. They come in many colors, such as white, yellow, pink, red, and magenta. They have a soft, sweet fragrance, and pollinators such as June bugs love them!
Casa Blanca Lily
This lily is fragrant and has large white flowers. They make a great addition to a cutting garden and reflect the moon well. However, these are toxic to cats and dogs, so be sure to plant them out of reach of pets.
Evening stock, or night-scented stock, comes in white and purple. They look a little wilted during the day, but come to life at night as they spread out their petals. It is one of the most fragrant night-blooming flowers.
Tuberose is often used in perfumes due to its strong and inviting scent. They produce clusters of white flowers with a long spike and bloom mid to late summer. They reflect the moon well and are great for cutting gardens. Don’t forget to check out Melissa’s piece on garden types!
Foamflower has spikes of spidery flowers and makes a great addition to walking paths.
Mock orange is another personal favorite of mine. It grows as a bush and does well as a hedge. It has white, orange-scented blossoms.
This flowering cactus can be trained to climb up a trellis, making it easy to care for as a houseplant. It has large white flowers and blooms when the plant is about five years old. It fully blooms around midnight and has a sweet scent. The flowers droop and die by morning unless they are pollinated. If they are pollinated, they will produce sweet edible fruit.
Queen of the Night
Queen of the Night is another cereus with large fragrant flowers. It is a succulent, and the blooms can be up to 9 inches in diameter. It has spineless stalks that store water, and makes a great houseplant. The flowers only open at night about once a year, usually in summer or fall. They wither by morning.
Red Flare Water Lily
The Red Flare, or tropical night-blooming water lily, is an aquatic plant that blooms at dusk and stays open until the following day. They are fragrant and bloom from mid-summer to early fall. The flower is large and can span 7-10 inches in hues of bright pinks, reds, and purples.
The chocolate daisy, or lyreleaf greeneyes, has a chocolate-like scent and blooms at twilight. They are classified as an herb and are edible; they don’t taste like chocolate, however. They repel deer and attract butterflies.
These midnight aromatics and showy blooms attract nocturnal pollinators. Nocturnal pollinators are a significant part of the ecosystem and often overlooked. These insects and mammals not only use the nighttime blooms for food but also shelter. In addition, many flowers rely heavily on nocturnal animals for pollination. Pollination is vital for plants, and pollinators are responsible for the survival of our flowers and crops. It is crucial to pay attention to both daytime and nighttime pollinators. Planting a moon garden will not only be beautiful and smell delicious, but it helps boost your local ecosystem.
While most pollination research has been done on diurnal (or daytime) pollinators, it is catching up on nocturnal pollinators and their importance. The following are known nocturnal pollinators, and research is uncovering more every day:(1)
- Nocturnal moths and butterflies
- Bees (250+ species)
- Birds (hummingbirds)
- Rodents (mice, elephant shrews)
- Reptiles (geckos)