I work all day and I am home only in the evenings. What flowers can I plant that will bloom at night and maybe even have fragrance?
An evening garden relies heavily on flowers that are white or light-colored so they will be visible even on a moonless night. Moonlight really illuminates the flowers and foliage, making the garden at night a different, magical experience. Nighttime flowers are exactly that—they bloom in the evening and remain closed during the daytime. These flowers often give off beautiful, fragrant scents, and the evening dew helps intensify those scents. Even if some of the flowers do bloom during the day, it is in the evening when they give off their headiest fragrance. Scent in the evening somehow carries farther than in the daytime, and it is this scent that attracts the nighttime moth pollinators.
There are quite a few plants that are suitable for evening gardens. Dusty miller’s leaves range from gray-green to silvery white. Trumpet and oriental lilies give off a heady smell. Heliotrope, which also comes in a creamy white that will shine at night, gives off a sweet vanilla scent. Alyssum has tiny white flowers and a honey-like scent, making it good for pots and the front of borders. Impatiens also comes in white, and when planted in a pot or on a deck, it can reflect light from the moon to create a beautiful effect. Peonies, roses and hydrangeas also come in bright whites and yellows and will add much beauty to the evening garden.
A favorite flower for an evening garden would be moonflower. These are annual vines that thrive in hot weather. It is similar to the morning glory except it blooms at night. Plant it close to your seating area so you can watch its large, white blossoms unfold in minutes in the early evening—spectacular! The almost pure white blossoms are fragrant all evening and just illuminate the garden.
Pink evening primrose is another good choice. It has four satiny, heart-shaped petals that form open cups with long stamens. When they open, the blossoms are a soft, clear white that fade into pink as the flowers mature. Their scent is reminiscent of a blend of honeysuckle and lemon custard. Nicotiana is another sweet-scented flower whose blossoms close in the daytime but open in the late afternoon and fill the air with jasmine-like aroma. Make sure to include fragrant hostas like H. plantaginea, ‘Royal Standard,’ ‘Honey Bells,’ ‘Tokudama Aureonebulosa,’ ‘Sweet Standard,’ and ‘Fragrant Bouquet.’
Bright foliage is another way to create evening beauty in the garden. Lamium is a beautiful groundcover with two-toned, white-centered leaves. Lamb’s ears are another good plant for evening foliage. Other plants worth considering are white-flowering shrubs, and annuals like dame’s rocket, tuberose, petunia and dianthus.
To give your evening garden an extra dimension, add some solar or candle lights here and there, plus try a water feature. Even if it is a small fountain, the sound of water really makes the evening even more magical. The visual impact of bright whites, the scents of flowers and the sound of the evening all combine to make the evening garden a place that will calm and sooth the spirit.