We all love our flower gardens, don’t we? From the spring lilacs to the summer dahlias, flower gardens burst forth with brilliant colorful blooms. But what about at night? Have you ever considered tucking a small piece of your garden for a nighttime moon garden filled with white blossoms and flowers that bloom at night?
I am so enamoured with the idea that we’re adding a moonlight garden to our fire pit area this summer, and some of the following night bloomers are going to make their way into our plans.
The Best Night Blooming Flowers
Did you know that there are flowers out there that can be seen at nighttime too? Though many people think of flowers as daytime plants, it is possible to find night-blooming varieties. Some flowers only bloom during the evening hours, and look especially beautiful when lit by the full moon. We’re going to take a look at ten types of beautiful blooms do grow for nighttime enjoyment! If you want your garden or patio space lit up with scent in the middle of the night, then this post is for you!
Warning Toxic Plants: Plants on this List are Toxic To Humans and Animals
The moonflower is a beautiful white and blue flower that blooms at night. Moon flowers grow in the tropics, including much of Asia and Central America. These white color flowers emit a sweet fragrance that will put you into sleep mode!
These flowers form their blossoms in the nighttime hours and start opening up when there is less sunlight. They close during days to conserve water and open again on nights with cooler temperatures or lower light conditions.
- Blooms: Mid summer to fall.
- Light Needs: Full sun. They can be in partial shade so long as they are not allowed to dry out.
- Water Needs: Moist, well drained soil, but do not allow to dry out.
- Height: 10 – 15 feet if properly trellised
- Width: 3 – 6ft
- Zone Requirements: 10 – 12.
Night Blooming Cereus
The night-blooming cereus is an orchid cactus that only blooms a few times a year. It goes by more than one common name; Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus, Princess of the Night, Queen of the Night, or more formally as epiphyllum oxypetalum. Some varieties only bloom once a year!
Regardless of genus or species, night-blooming cereus flowers are almost always white or very pale shades of other colors like soft pink. The blooms are large and billowy with a heady scent. Most of the flowers open after dusk, and by dawn, most are in the process of wilting away. Plants in the same area tend to bloom on the same night.
Even though they only bloom a few nights of the year, they have such a beautiful, strong scent that it’s all worth it.
Night Blooming Cereus is hardy to zones 10-12, so they can only be grown in outdoor spaces in more tropical climates. In cooler climates you may have better success growing them as an indoor plant.
- Blooms: Intermittently between July and October
- Light Needs: Despite being a cactus, this plant prefers indirect sunlight.
- Water Needs: Do not let this cactus dry out! They are native to rainforests, and so need moist but not wet soil.
- Height: 1 to 10 feet, depending on species.
- Width: 1 to 5 feet, again depending on species and planting location.
- Zone Requirements: 10 – 12
Learn More: Your best bet to catch a glimpse of this rare flower is to grow one yourself, and watch it like a hawk! For tips on how to care for a queen of the night, check out this guide.
Night Blooming Phlox
Night phlox plants grow up to 36 inches tall, making them perfect flowers for smaller gardens! These flowers come in colors ranging from white, pink, and purple.
These plants have a memorable honey almond vanilla scent that you will smell before seeing the plant—an excellent addition to any time garden.
Night-blooming phlox is incredibly easy to grow from seed. The seeds can be started three to four weeks before the last projected frost date in your area indoors. You can plant the seeds outside when the danger of frost is past. Seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days.
We especially love the variety Midnight Candy. The clusters of pure white pinwheel flowers are brushed with maroon and smell like vanilla, marzipan and honey!
- Blooms: Spring to summer
- Light Needs: Full Sun to partial afternoon shade
- Water Needs: Keep the soil damp to the touch to encourage blooming
- Height: 6 to 12 inches
- Width: up to 2 feet wide
- Zone Requirements: 2-11
Night Blooming Jasmine (cestrum nocturnum)
Night blooming jasmine bloom in the summer time.
These flowers would make an excellent addition to anyone’s flower bed. They will last even longer when planted in pots outside!
You can find night-blooming jasmine growing in the warmer climates of America, Africa, and Asia.
Cold Hardy Jasmine ( Jasmine Officinale) can be grown in cold climates down to zones 6b-9a.
Unfortunately it’s not a vine that will grow in my area (at least, I don’t think it will without a lot of intervention during the winter).
- Blooms: April through May
- Light Needs: Full Sun
- Water Needs: Well draining soil with plenty of mulch. Keep soil moist but not boggy.
- Height: 8 – 10 feet (Can be kept as short as 18 inches with pruning)
- Width: 3 feet
- Zone Requirements: 8 – 11 (down to 6b for cold hardy varieties)
Night Blooming Irises
I think irises are one of the prettiest flowers, and night-blooming irises aren’t any different! The flowers bloom in various colors, including blues, lavenders, purples, yellows, and whites. They also have a sweet smell that you can enjoy close up or afar on these dark summer nights.
Not all varieties of iris bloom at night, but if you can get your hands on a variety that does, especially if it has white flowers, it will make a stunning addition to your nighttime garden.
- Blooms: Spring only.
- Light Needs: Full sun.
- Water Needs: Water frequently just before and during blooming season.
- Height: 3 inches to 4 feet, depending on variety.
- Width: Usually about the same as the height.
- Zone Requirements: 3 – 10
Learn More: Irises come in two categories; bulbous and rhizome. Each has different planting requirements, and finding the right information for your plants online can be tough. Check out our guide on how deep to plant iris bulbs for the definitive answer!
White Nightshade flower
The white nightshade flowers are often mistaken for morning glory flowers (they can also bloom at night), but this flower has much smaller petals with an intricate design like starbursts all over them! This plant isn’t just found in gardens either – it’s usually spotted along walkways and around homes too because they reseed readily.
White Nightshade is actually also known as Black Nightshade, because its berries are dark purple to black when ripe. White Nightshade (Solanum nigrum) should not be confused with Deadly Nightshade, or Belladonna (Atropa belladonna). As few as 2 berries of the Deadly Nightshade plant can be fatal to a child, as such it is not recommended to be grown in home gardens. You can tell Deadly Nightshade from White nightshade by the flowers: White Nightshade flowers are white, while Belladonna flowers are dull purple.
You can find and grow white nightshade in zones 6a-9b.
White nightshade is particularly poisonous and shouldn’t be touched with hands with open wounds. The berries are toxic, especially when unripe. It’s also an invasive species so if you do grow it, try to keep it contained.
- Blooms: July to September
- Light Needs: Full sun to partial shade.
- Water Needs: Moist, well draining soil
- Height: 3 – 4 feet
- Width: 3 – 4 feet
- Zone Requirements: 5 – 9
Evening Primroses (oenothera biennis)
The Evening Primrose plant makes a beautiful addition to your garden because their flowers come out only at night. Their fragrance is heady and robust and fills a gazebo or garden space with their wonderful scent. These flowers can bloom as early as spring and stay in bloom throughout the summer until they die off by fall.
Evening Primroses come in a variety of colors, but the paler colors look best in a moonlight garden.
You can find and grow evening primrose almost anywhere in North America. I used to live in zone 2a (cold, I know!), and I had a beautiful plot of evening primrose.
- Blooms: Spring only.
- Light Needs: Partial to full shade
- Water Needs: Don’t over-water; prefer well-drained soil and the chance to dry out very slightly between waterings
- Height: 3 – 5 ft tall
- Width: 2 – 3 ft wide
- Zone Requirements: 2 – 8
Cape Jasmine (Gardenia)
Cape jasmines have these sweet flowers with an intoxicating scent. They bloom at night with white flowers on vines that can reach 40 feet long. They need to be planted in moist soil to not dry out from lack of water overnight.
Cape jasmines are lovely additions to your night garden and will fill your space with beautiful flowers. They also have a wonderful, warm, spicy aroma that makes my top ten list of best fragrant flowers.
The lovely cape jasmine grows in areas with warm and moist climates. The flowers last for a month before they close back up.
- Blooms: April to May
- Light Needs: Partial Shade
- Water Needs: Moist, well drained soil.
- Height: 6 feet
- Width: 3-6 feet
- Zone Requirements: 7-11 for wintering outside
Japanese wisteria is a lovely vine that flowers at night. The flowers are lavender or white and bloom for a short time. It is a quick-growing vine and flowers reliably in the evening.
You can find Japanese wisteria in zones five through eight.
Wisteria can be invasive so verify that is not a prohibited invasive plant in your area.
- Blooms: Late spring to mid summer
- Light Needs: Full Sun
- Water Needs: Regular watering, do not allow to dry out.
- Height: 15 – 25 feet
- Width: 15 – 25 feet
- Zone Requirements: 4 – 9
Four O’clocks (Marvel of Peru)
Four o’clock flowers are grown as an annual flower, but can be grown as a perennial plant in zones 7b-9. As annuals, they are incredibly easy to plant and seed. Plant the seeds after the last frost date in your area, and 4-6 weeks later, you will have billows of flowering blooms. These are one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed.
The flowers open in late afternoon and remain open throughout the night and into the morning when temperatures rise, and the flowers wilt. Like daylilies, four o’clocks only bloom a single time, then fade and eventually fall off the plant.
Native to South America, these flowers prefer warm, moist climates.
They come in different colors, but the white four o’clock flowers look brilliant in a nighttime garden with waves of lovely white blooms shining in the dark!
- Blooms: Late summer and early fall
- Light Needs: Full Sun
- Water Needs: Keep soil evenly moist
- Height: 24 inches
- Width: 10-12 inches
- Zone Requirements: 2-11
Learn More: 12 Easiest Flowers To Grow From Seed
White Nite Sunflowers
I know it sounds strange to add a sunflower to a night-time garden, but hear me out. The White Nite variety of sunflowers has beautiful white petals, perfect for reflecting moonlight. Sunflowers stand tall, perfect for the back of the flower bed or border.
Now, there are some common (and contradictory) misconceptions about sunflowers. Some folks say that they close up at night, while others say that sunflowers bloom at night. The truth is actually neither – the sunflower head opens once at the beginning of the season, and stays open day and night.
Another interesting fact about sunflowers is that the young flowers follow the sun! That’s right, sunflowers turn their heads to maximize their rays. As they mature though their stalks thicken and are unable to turn, so adult sunflowers face east all the time. Keep this in mind when planning your nighttime garden so that they aren’t facing away from the front of the garden bed!
- Blooms: Early summer to Autumn
- Light Needs: Full Sun
- Water Needs: Keep moist but in well drained soil.
- Height: 5-6 feet.
- Width: About 1 foot.
- Zone Requirements: Hardy in zones 4 to 9.
Learn More: For more information on growing sunflowers, check out these posts:
Hold On – Why Do Flowers Bloom at Night Anyways?
You might be wondering why some of these flowers open up at night instead of the daytime, like most flowers. Night-blooming flowers are just taking advantage of nocturnal pollinators like moths and bats, rather than having to share bees and butterflies with other species of flowers.
Nighttime Gardening – Flowers You Can Only See In the Dark
We’ve compiled this list of 11 flowers that bloom at night for those looking for a little more variety in their moonlight gardens. They range from the common to the exotic, and you may find something new to add to your collection! What other night flowers do you include or recommend? We would love to hear about them, so make sure to leave a comment below with any suggestions. Happy gardening, no matter what time it is!
Editorial Note: This post was originally published on January 6, 2022, and was updated on January 23, 2023.
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