Several years ago, I was given an angel trumpet for my garden. The tropical shrub/small tree produces large trumpet-like flowers that hang from branches. It is like music to my eyes and nose (it produces a wonderful scent), and the angel trumpet plays for me at night. The flowers close during the day, and after sundown, they open wide and release a fragrance. (A word of caution: An angel trumpet is a toxic plant and dangerous if ingested or can cause skin irritation. Pictured is one from last year that had nearly 80 flowers on it.)
Along with the angel trumpet, a vast group of plants bloom in the evenings and throughout the night. Together, these plants can create a garden best enjoyed in the moonlight’s glow.
Nocturnal plants rely on nighttime pollinators such as bats and moths to spread nectar. They generally have strong scents rather than impressive flowers to attract the pollinators, and these plants are in hot, harsh environments where these habits are key to survival. That means most night plants are not hardy for our area. Treat them as annuals, and they can grow here.
A few night plants don’t technically flower after the sun goes down, but their appearance reflects light and catches your eye at night. These types of plants include lilies and hydrangeas that have large white or pale-colored blooms, or perennials with slivery or variegated foliage such as artemisia, lamb’s ear, or variegated liriope.
— Brian Wildeman is a designer with Landscapes by Dallas Foster and Keep Evansville Beautiful’s 2010 community volunteer of the year.
Night Blooming Plants:
Flowering Tobacco: These small white flowers open at dusk and emit a jasmine-like fragrance.
Moonflower: This vining plant with heart-shaped leaves has large white flowers that open at night.
Angel’s Trumpet: Highly fragrant, large, trumpet-like flowers hang from this small tree.
Four O’clocks: The medium-sized flowers come in a variety of colors. They open late in the afternoon and close by morning.
Night-blooming Jessamine: This tropical shrub has highly fragrant white flowers.
Antares Water Lily: Distinctive large red flower releases fragrance in the evening.
Ozark Sundrops: A perennial hardy to our area has yellow flowers that open in the evenings.
Yucca: It’s a hardy perennial flower by day, but the droopy flowers lift up in the evenings to release a fragrance.