Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener
During a long day at work, your flower garden is mostly enjoyed by strangers and passers by. The bright beautiful flowers you’ve worked hard to plant are drinking up sunshine all day long, giving a welcoming fragrance off for others to enjoy. The time that it takes you to get home from work is the time where your daytime flowers start to relax and rest for the following day. What about you? You’re ready to have a relaxing night, but so are your good smelling flowers. You wonder what it would be like if your flowers could stay awake all night.
Look no further, these flowers are night owls just like you. Plant them as borders, or in pots next to your porch swing to enjoy their luxurious fragrance as you kick up your feet at the end of a long day. These varieties rely on pollination from nocturnal insects and animals like moths and bats, and so have evolved over time to stay open all night long!
Fun fact: These night blooming flowers are also some of the most fragrant flowers in the plant kingdom because at night, the color of a flower will do nothing. So to guide pollinators to the flowers, the plants rely on a potent scent that will travel much further than ordinary flowers.
Tuberose – Polianthes tuberosa
This slow growing flower will become your constant companion year after year. Plant bulbs 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart in moistened soil. Can be grown inside our outside, and in colder zones dug up and stored for the winter to be planted the following spring. The tuberose has been a favorite for centuries because of its strong sweet and musky scent. Marie Antionette herself used a perfume made with tuberose! These waxy white flowers originated in Mexico, grow in clumps similar to lilacs, and give off their strongest fragrance just as evening hits. Zones 7 through 10.
Night Phlox – Zaluzianskya
This South African native is the perfect heirloom plant for anyone looking for evening aromatherapy. Nicknamed “midnight candy”, these flowers smell like a cake just out of the oven every night! With a sweet honey vanilla scent, night phlox compliments any other fragrances coming from your nighttime flower beds. We recommend planting this one outside your bedroom window to enjoy on summer nights! Night phlox is easy to plant from seed and requires sunlight in the daytime. Plant in pots and keep them inside for cooler climates, moving them outside for the summer months, or plant outside in zones 9 through 11.
Lyreleaf Greeneyes – Berlandiera lyrata
This “chocolate daisy” is actually a member of the sunflower family. However, when planted in areas that freeze, this sunflower blooms at night from spring until frost! In the heat of the day, lyreleaf greeneyes roll up their petals length wise to protect themselves from drying out. The delicate centers of these flowers, instead of growing sunflower seeds, grow edible stamens that taste and smell like chocolate! In some Native American cultures, the stamens were used to get rid of stomach problems. Lyreleaf greeneyes are known for growing wild in dry heat, and so survive drought and the occasional lawn mowing. Versatile to any zones.
Night Blooming Jasmine – Cestrum nocturnum
As it turns out, this tropical jessamine plant is not a true jasmine at all! This night blooming jasmine is actually part of the nightshade family, and is named for the jasmine scented perfume it gives off when the buds open up each night. This evergreen shrub grows white horn shaped flowers and thrives in moist sandy soil. Complimented by the night phlox mentioned above. This plant requires full sun, and releases it’s perfume into the evening air as the sun goes down. Recommended for zones 9 through 11, but in cooler climates can be planted in pots and brought inside during cold weather.
Bonus: Queen of the Night
This post was inspired by my curiosity for the flower in the header picture: the Queen of the Night, epiphyllum oxypetalum, or Tan Hua flower as it is called in China. This exquisite variety buds from the Dutchmen’s pipe cactus as rarely as once a year and only at night, wilting before dawn. When in full bloom this flower gives off a heavenly and unique perfume. Because of it’s dramatic but finite beauty, this flower holds cultural weight and importance all over the world. In some cultures, parties are held to witness the flower bloom. It’s wonderful to know that people appreciate the world around them, and that they celebrate tangible beauty though their passion and respect for gardening.
Which of these flowers would you most like to try in your garden?