15 Best Night-Blooming Plants for Moon Gardens

moon garden at dusk

When designing your moon garden, choose plants that put on their best show at night. From the elegant moonflower to the fragrant gardenia, these 15 night-blooming plants for moon gardens are a treat for the eyes (and the nose). 

Remember, your moon garden will shine bright when flowers grow in masses. White blooms reflect the light of the moon better than colorful flowers, and the more fragrant the flower, the better. 

But that doesn’t mean your moon garden can’t have colorful, fragrant flowers or non-fragrant, white flowers. It’s always good to have some variety in the garden (the nighttime pollinators will thank you for it).

1. Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia)

This South American native plant grows as a shrub or small tree. It brings a slice of the tropics to your moon garden and is quite the spectacle with its trumpet-shaped, pink, white, yellow, and orange flowers. Its sweet fragrance is most potent in the evening. 

Keep in mind that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Ingesting angel’s trumpet can prove fatal. 

  • Plant type: Shrub or small tree
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Sweet smelling
  • Bloom time: Midsummer to fall
  • Water needs: High
  • Mature height: Up to 20 feet

2. Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

The gardenia is an evergreen shrub with thick, glossy, dark green leaves and intoxicating white flowers. Its flowers release a strong, creamy fragrance in the evenings to attract moths, and its white petals shine in the moonlight. Plant the shrub where its roots won’t compete with other plants.

  • Plant type: Shrub
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11
  • Sun: Indirect sunlight to part shade
  • Soil: Acidic, moist, organically rich, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Creamy, sweet, vanilla, breezy
  • Bloom time: Blooms throughout the year in warm climates, where temperatures don’t drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In cooler climates, it blooms in late spring to early summer. 
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 3-6 feet

3. Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’

The “Casa Blanca” lily is a sight to behold. Its pearl-white flowers feature arching petals and contrasting reddish-brown anthers. The night-bloomer emits a sweet, delicate fragrance in the evenings and perfectly fits fresh-cut flower arrangements. 

Lilies might not be the best choice if you have a cat that patrols the garden, as they’re highly toxic to cats. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Sweet, delicate
  • Bloom time: Midsummer
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 3-4 feet

4. Chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata)

The chocolate daisy is a perennial wildflower. The daisy-shaped flower puts on a colorful display with its maroon central disk, bright green bracts, and striking yellow petals. Its gold yellow flowers might not glow in the darkness like white petals will, but the chocolatey aroma sure makes up for it. 

Chocolate daisies are heat and drought tolerant, making them great flowers for your rock garden, too. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-10
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Dry to medium, well-drained soils; prefers sandy or rocky soils
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Chocolate
  • Bloom time: Late spring through autumn; blooms year-round in frost-free areas
  • Water needs: Low to medium
  • Mature height: 1-2 feet

5. Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

The evening primrose makes its appearance at dusk and closes its yellow, bowl-shaped flowers in the morning. Its nocturnal flowers emit a mild lemon scent in the air. The evening primrose spreads in the landscape by self-seeding and commonly grows in thickets, prairies, fields, and along the roadside. The cheery flower is also an excellent addition to the wildflower or cottage garden. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Sandy, gravelly, medium moisture, well-drained soil. 
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Mild lemon
  • Bloom time: Early summer to early fall
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 3-5 feet

6. Evening rain lily (Zephyranthes drummondii)

Evening rain lily is a bulbous perennial with showy white flowers. The flowers bloom for two to four days before turning pink and wilting away. Its delicate petals contrast nicely with its blue-green, narrow leaves and are sure to stand out in your moon garden. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
  • Sun: Tolerates light shade but prefers full sun
  • Soil: Clay, loam, sand, well-drained soils
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Sweet smelling
  • Bloom time: Late spring through early fall
  • Water needs: Low to medium
  • Mature height: 6-12 inches

7. Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata)

This nocturnally fragrant, long-tubed flower is native to South America. Its star-shaped flowers open only at night, and different hybrids offer a splash of pinks, reds, whites, and lime green. You can easily propagate the flower from seed in the garden or indoors. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Moist, organically rich, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Annual
  • Fragrance: Sweet, jasmine-like scent
  • Bloom time: Summer to fall
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 3-5 feet

8. Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

The foamflower’s tiny pink flowers burst forth in late spring, gradually changing to white over a six-week bloom period. The plant is a clump-forming, fast-spreading ground cover that grows well in the shade. Its semi-evergreen foliage features semi-glossy, heart-shaped leaves growing on a reddish-brown stem. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8
  • Sun: Part to full shade
  • Soil: Moist, hummus-rich, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: None
  • Bloom time: Late spring
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: Up to 1 foot

9. Four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)

Commonly known as marvel of Peru, four o’ clocks open in the late afternoon and close their petals the following morning. The tiny, trumpet-shaped, purplish-pink, white flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and emit a sweet, honeysuckle-like scent. They might smell sweet, but that doesn’t mean they’re candy –– all parts of the plants are poisonous if ingested. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Sweet, honeysuckle-like scent
  • Bloom time: Summer to fall
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 2-3 feet

10. Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius)

Mock orange is a deciduous shrub that blooms cup-shaped white flowers from late spring to early summer. Its stiff, twiggy branches may need regular pruning to help maintain the shrub’s shape. Mock orange emits an intoxicating orange-like fragrance at night that will make your evening strolls feel like paradise. 

  • Plant type: Shrub
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-7
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Orange blossoms
  • Bloom time: Late spring to early summer
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 10-12 feet

11. Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

The moonflower is a stunning perennial vine. Its deep green foliage and pure white flowers are bound to catch the eye. The night-blooming flower knows how to put on a show, too –– in the early evening, the delicate flowers unfold from spiraled tubular buds like graceful ballerinas. Remember to show up early so that you don’t miss the performance. 

  • Plant type: Vine
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-12
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Subtle, floral scent
  • Bloom time: Midsummer to fall
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature length: 90 feet

12. Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)

Night-blooming jasmine is a bushy evergreen shrub with arching branches and glossy green leaves. Its delicate, tubular white flowers blossom in spring and are followed by small white berries. Night-blooming jasmine can be trained to grow up a trellis, creating a beautiful attraction in the moon garden. 

  • Plant type: Shrub
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Fertile, organic, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Sweet smelling
  • Bloom time: Spring to fall
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 8-10 feet

13. Night phlox (Zaluzianskya ovata)

Also called midnight candy, night phlox has small, pinwheel-shaped flowers. Its petals are white with a dark maroon underside. The flowers emit a delectable aroma of vanilla, almond, and honey. Night phlox grows well in large containers and also can be sown in the ground. 

  • Plant type: Flower 
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-10
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Sweet, vanilla, almond, honey
  • Bloom time: Midsummer through early fall
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: Up to 1 foot

14. Night-scented stock (Matthiola longipetala)

Give your moon garden a dose of sweet and spicy perfume with the night-scented stock. These dainty, whitish-lilac flowers grow atop gray-green leaves, creating the perfect pastel picture. The annual flower grows well in containers and adds pops of color and texture to floral arrangements.

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-10
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Neutral to slightly alkaline, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Annual
  • Fragrance: Sweet and spicy
  • Bloom time: Spring through fall
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 1-2 feet

15. Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Queen of the Night is a species of cactus that produces long flattened stems that reach up to 20 feet long. Its show-stopping white flowers can grow up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. The flowers open at night and typically won’t return for a second one. The breathtaking cactus can grow up walls and trellises. 

  • Plant type: Cactus
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11
  • Sun: Indirect sun to part shade
  • Soil: Moist, organically rich, well-drained soil
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Fragrance: Strong, sweet smell
  • Bloom time: Late spring to early summer
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: Up to 10 feet tall

Don’t let a shabby lawn outshine the garden

While you’re busy building your moon garden, your attention might stray away from your lawn care chores. Considering a moon garden is a fun expression of the imagination, the DIY project is bound to hog your time and energy. 

But you don’t want an unkempt lawn to steal the spotlight from your blossoming moon garden. Hire a local lawn care professional who will do the heavy lifting for you, from mowing the lawn to edging the landscape. An expert will keep the lawn crisp and tidy while you sit back and smell the moonflowers. 

Main Photo Credit: piccolomondo | Pixabay

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell is a freelance writer and actor in New York City. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and enjoys a warm cup of French press coffee.