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Plants that Bloom Only at Night

Many plants close their flowers at night as a means of protection against cooler temperatures. However, some species only bloom at night, typically because they rely on pollination from animals that feed during this period. Night-blooming plants, or night bloomers, often have white flowers to make them stand out in the dark. In addition, their scents are unusually strong, so their pollinators can find them more readily. Since night bloomers rely on only a few species of animals for pollination, they’re often poisonous to discourage predation by non-pollinators.

You may want to plant at least a few night bloomers in your garden to enjoy. If you frequently entertain at night, you may even want to create a “moon garden” that consists mostly of night bloomers. 

The following five plants are some of the most spectacular night bloomers.

1. Brugmansia

Brugmansia, commonly known as angel’s trumpets, has trumpet-shaped flowers similar to the closely related devil’s trumpet, but it’s easy to tell them apart. Angel’s trumpet is a bush or shrub, while devil’s trumpet is a leafy plant. Furthermore, the flowers of an angel’s trumpet point towards the ground, while the blooms of a devil’s trumpet point towards the sky.

Angel’s trumpets are easiest to grow in gardening zones 8 or 9 and are especially common in Coastal California. The fragrance is lovely, but these plants are also highly poisonous, like other members of the nightshade family. As a result, you shouldn’t plant angel’s trumpets in any areas with children or pets. And you should be extremely careful when handling them as they can be a skin irritant.

2. Nicotiana

Nicotiana is a genus of plants that contains nicotine. It includes the tobacco plant, although you wouldn’t plant that species in a garden. These plants are a fast way to add color to your garden at night because they’re easy to transplant. You can also grow them from seed since they germinate quickly.

 Nicotiana flowers are usually white but may also be green, pink, or red. Their strong fragrance attracts the hummingbirds that pollinate them, giving you an additional reason to plant them in your garden. Nicotiana is another poisonous member of the nightshade family, so you need to be cautious about where you plant them.

3. Night-Blooming Jasmine

Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) is also a member of the nightshade family and not closely related to true jasmine. It’s a fast-growing, hardy plant that’s considered a weed in some parts of the world. The flowers of night-blooming jasmine are almost entirely white, with just hints of green. In addition, this plant is an evergreen shrub that can provide your garden with visual appeal throughout the year.

While night-blooming jasmine is toxic to some extent, it isn’t particularly poisonous compared to other members of the nightshade family. However, its strong fragrance can be irritating to those with respiratory problems.

4. Night Phlox

Night phlox (Zaluzianskya capensis), also known as midnight candy, has mostly pink, purple, and white flowers that are usually in full bloom during summer and  fall. Its particularly sweet fragrance is a mixture of almonds, honey, and vanilla that will attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden.

This annual is commonly found in fragrance and flower gardens since it grows well in containers and flowerbeds. It’s fairly drought-tolerant once established and grows well in full sun to partial shade.

5. Tuberose

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) has a strong inviting scent that’s often included in perfumes. It makes a great addition to a moon garden since it grows clusters of white flowers on long spikes, which are typically in full bloom from mid- to late summer. You can also use tuberose as a cutting flower in bouquets and floral arrangements.

Tuberose is a perennial that grows best in warm climates with full sun. It’s easy to grow from bulbs, especially in borders and flowerbeds. However, it can also do well in large flowerpots.