Night Blooming Flowers For Moon Garden


A moon garden is a magical space where pale, night-blooming flowers glow luminously in the moonlight, releasing their redolence into the night air. While not all flowers in a moon garden have to be night-blooming, those that are, tend to be at their peak during this time, making a wonderful foundation to build upon.

Night-blooming flowers are often fragrant, releasing their scent at dusk and perfuming the air around them. These flowers are particularly wonderful to plant around an outdoor dining area or near a patio. They thrive where they can be enjoyed on languorous summer evenings when their aromas hang captive in the sultry night air or in the early morning hours when the garden has a meditative and serene quality.

Many night-blooming plants have fleeting blooms that open for only one night, fading quickly with the morning sun. The anticipation of these momentous blooms is a practice in patience and dedication, and their brief and magical appearance rewards the ardent gardener.

We garden for many reasons. Not the least of these are providing food for our families, feeding pollinator populations, or increasing the privacy of our space. While these are all worthwhile pursuits, there is something wonderful about a garden planted simply for the sake of those enchanted moments spent enjoying the fruits of one’s labor.

Let’s consider some wonderful, night-blooming flowers that are certain to charm and delight as they unfurl by the light of the Earth’s silvery satellite.

Angel’s Trumpet

Botanical Name: Brugmansia spp.

Plant Type: Evergreen
Season: Summer
Exposure: Full Sun
Zones: 9-12

Angel’s trumpet is a small tree originating in South America. However, it is considered extinct in the wild. It is widely available as an ornamental plant, and if I do say so myself, it is truly breathtaking.

These evergreens can be grown as large shrubs or trained into the shape of a tree, reaching up to 30 feet tall in some regions. They can also be kept more compact as a container plant.

The large (6”-24” long) flowers of the Angel’s Trumpet are how this plant garners its name. They are long and pendulous, trumpet-shaped, hanging downward like twirling skirts. Angel’s trumpet opens at night and can last between a single day to several days. They emit their fragrance at night and are pollinated predominantly by moths.

Be cautious about placing this plant near living spaces if you have young children or pets. Every part of the Angel’s Trumpet plant is harmful to humans and animals. As long as care is taken to prevent ingesting any part of the plant, the magic of the Angel’s Trumpet is undeniably magnetic.

Casa Blanca Lily

Botanical Name: Lilius ‘Casa Blanca’

Plant Type: Perennial
Season: Mid to After Summer
Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
Zones: 4-9

The much-loved flowers of the Casa Blanca lily are commonly found in the bouquets of summer brides. The large, creamy white flowers unfurl their petals in the evening, releasing the greatest amount of fragrance. The flowers can remain open for up to 2 weeks under the right conditions.

Casa Blanca is an oriental hybrid that grows 3’-4’ tall on strong stems that support clusters of up to 8 of their large (6”-8”) blooms. They also make excellent cut flowers, so you can leave them in the garden or bring them indoors to enjoy their strong, sweet scent.

These lilies bloom so prolifically that there is no reason not to have it both ways. Their stunning white flowers will glow in the light of the sun and the moon.

Chocolate Daisy

Botanical Name: Berlandiera lyrate

Plant Type: Perennial
Season: Spring through Fall
Exposure: Full Sun to Part Sun
Zones: 4-10

The chocolate daisy is a member of the Aster family and has an extensive range where it can be grown with very little maintenance. Native to the Southwestern United States, this drought-tolerant plant is known to bloom for many months and nearly year-round in warmer climates. Deadheading this plant will lead to continuous, increased blooms.

The pretty, yellow flowers bloom at twilight, although they are most fragrant near dawn. For the early riser, the chocolatey scent of these blooms perfectly complements that first cup of morning coffee. With a height and width of only 1’-2’, these plants make a wonderful border for a patio or walkway.

Deer-Horn Cactus

Botanical Name: Peniocereus groggier

Plant Type: Perennial Cactus
Season: Summer
Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
Zones: 9-10

Here we have one of the most elusive and interesting night-blooming plants, the deer horn or Arizona Queen of the Night cactus. This native of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts is a wonderful, although inconspicuous, addition to a succulent garden. For most of the year, Deer-Horn looks like a run-of-the-mill cactus, with thin branching arms covered in small, sharp spines.

The crowning glory of the deer horn cactus is its waxy, white flowers, which bloom for only one night per year remaining open just long enough for early daytime pollinators to do their work. These blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flowers are heavily fragrant in their many-petaled glory and are followed by slender, edible, red fruits which draw birds and other wildlife.

Devil’s Trumpet

Botanical Name: Datura

Plant Type: Annual or Perennial
Season: Spring through Fall
Exposure: Full Sun
Zones: 5-7 as Annual, 8-10 as Perennial

Much like the angel’s trumpet, this plant is harmful, so it should be planted cautiously in areas where pets and small children frequent. The flowers are similarly shaped. However, rather than hanging down like an angel’s trumpet, the devil’s trumpet has upturned flowers, commonly white with bits of lavender or pink on the throat and at the edges.

Datura is a nightshade related to tomato and eggplant. When planted in full sun, the plant will grow thick, shrubby foliage with a bluish tint. It can also survive in partial shade, but the foliage may become leggy and will not flower as heavily. The flowers open in the evening and smell of honeysuckle, which draws pollinators like the sphinx month.

Drago fruit Cactus

Many types of cacti have a habit of blooming at night, and the dragon fruit cactus is no exception. It also produces delicious fruit found in many grocery stores and farmer’s markets throughout the Southern United States.

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