Nighttime Gardening

Have you ever wished you could head outdoors at the end of a busy day and enjoy the beauty of your garden in the after-dusk coolness? While most gardens are designed to display their vibrant colors, scents and textures in the daylight, you can also plant a garden that comes alive when the sun slips below the horizon.


Tips for Creating a Moonlight Garden

It's not difficult to establish a nighttime garden to delight the senses while you're dining al fresco, entertaining, taking a stroll or simply relaxing outdoors in the cool of the evening. Here's how to get started:
  • Pick a moonlit location that's easily viewed from your deck, patio or gazebo; or choose one or more spots along a pathway where you can place a garden bench, or chairs and a small table.
  • Add visual impact by selecting flowering plants of various heights and blooms of different sizes. Group the plants close together and add flowering vines on an arbor or trellis for a picturesque backdrop.
  • Use foliage plants with silver or variegated green and white leaves, such as hostas, lamb's ears or dusty miller to add a shimmering contrast to your flowers.
  • Incorporate subtle solar lighting for those nights when the moon is hidden, such as rope lights, hanging lanterns, decorative stake lights, LED candles or pathway lights.

Choosing Nighttime Garden Plants

The ideal plants for a nighttime garden are those that bloom after twilight, put out a deeper aroma at night, or shimmer and glow under natural moonlight or soft, outdoor accent lighting. Some options include:
  • Moonflower. With its pure white, five-inch fragrant blooms that open at dusk and close with the dawn, this twinning vine is a nocturnal beauty.
  • Night phlox. Also known as 'midnight candy,' the tiny flowers of this annual open at dusk and release a delectable almond-vanilla-honey perfume.
  • White lilac. Varieties like 'Miss Ellen Willmott' feature light-reflecting white blooms that emit their luxurious scent at night.
  • Clematis. The 'Duchess of Edinburg' variety of this climbing vine offers up a plethora of showy, white flowers that almost glow in the moonlight.