Friday, May 20, 2011

The Perfumed Garden after Dark

After the sun goes down the garden takes on a new appearance. Scents are noticed that were not there during the day. Certain blossoms require darkness to make their appearance, opening for pollination by night-flying insects attracted to their fragrance. We can take advantage of those characteristics for a Moonlit Garden.

Epiphyllum, November 2009.
Two potted Cereus plants have a bud each now. I believe it takes about two weeks after I spot a bud to see the bloom, which begins to open about 10 pm and is rarely open much past sunup the next day. The fragrance is worth staying up late or getting up early to experience. We have Night Blooming Cereus treats through out the summer and into late fall after the potted plants go inside. Flower Lady has them in her south Florida garden climbing high into a tree.
Epiphyllum bud.

Popular in the fragrant night garden despite their toxic nature are Daturas. The early white Daturas were blooming in April and repeating bloom new. Brugmansias are only about a foot tall, mostly rooted cuttings kept over the winter. Seedling purple Daturas planted out a few weeks ago are still a ways from bloom.

Devil's Trumpet. Angel's trumpets point downward toward earth.
These are near the side door where the fragrance is easily noticed.

Nicotiana has a fragrance in the evening garden.

 The darker shades of nicotiana are delightful in the early
morning garden before the flowers close for the day.
Even closed, the bell-like buds are pretty.

Other vespertine flowers that I grow include certain Crinums which should bloom
soon and species petunias. Hemerocallis citrina  which my MIL called 'Lemon Lily' is
just now starting to open a bloom or two.

Species petunias have a sweet fragrance after dark, too.
The fragrance was bred out of many hybrid petunias while
achieving other desirable traits.

What flowers in your garden bloom and/or are fragrant at night?
And another treat for the senses, the sound of 'Vespers':

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in hot, humid Southwest Georgia.


  1. Scent is so wonderful in the garden, adds a totally different dimension. There are so many beautiful perfumes late evening and early morning, much better times to be in the garden than mid-day.

  2. Oh yeah, the night time garden is a totally different experience. I have a couple of cereus and don't know anything about please. Your Datura- Devil's Trumpet is nice. I have several, they reseed...I move them around..

  3. Great post about fragrance in the garden! I was at a display garden yesterday, and there was a lovely scent in the air, I never did figure out where it was coming from. A Viburnum, I think.

    I used to have an Epyphyllum, which got monstrously huge and ungainly, but never bloomed. I had to give it away before we moved. Somewhere I have some Nicotiana seeds. Didn't get around to sowing them this year. Maybe next.

  4. Enjoyed the music immensely and am fascinated with your information regarding fragrant blooms at night. I plant fragrant plants where we walk often but had never considered those that bloom in the night. I can see I have some rethinking to do. Thanks for such an enjoyable post.

  5. I often design for night entertaining and fragrance is always a must. Great for the evening pollinators too. I like watching them flutter about. Mosquitoes not welcome though.

  6. I often design for night entertaining and fragrance is always a must. Great for the evening pollinators too. I like watching them flutter about. Mosquitoes not welcome though.

  7. Oh, my gosh! That Ephiphyllum bloom is amazing! Gardenias are one of my favorites.

  8. I think we all agree that scented flowers are special. The night blooming/night scented ones are just extra-special.
    Darla, I'll talk about Cereus on your blog somewhere.
    Holley, Gardenias are just about my favorite, too and you don't have to wai for night to enjoy them, though. I'll have a Gardenia post soon. Only a few have opened this early and they are a treat.

  9. NeilJean,
    Nice shot of the Cereus flower it looks like it was still daylight. We have been getting blooms for the past three or four year.s

  10. It was daylight, early the next morning, Randy. In hot weather they close really early in the morning. This one was in November, inside and it lasted until the critters and I got up and ran out there.

  11. Very cool! I've never actually seen any night-bloomers in person, and your pictures are beautiful.

  12. Hi Nell Jean,
    I enjoyed reading about your evening bloomers. My datura plants are still seedlings. I haven't decided if I'm going to plant any in the front yard. I'm concerned about someone taking them to use for drugs. I guess the ones in the veggie garden are visible from the street, too, but not as easy to get to.

    I do have some nicotianas in the front. I have some evening scented stock that I grew from seed, which were spindly from day 1. I hardened them off best I could, and put them in a tub with some pansies that were already there. I just looked them up, and it looks like they don't like the heat any more than pansies do. Here, I was hoping they'd take off and grow if the pansies faded.

  13. That epi in the top picture is gorgeous.

  14. I don't believe I have any night bloomers.

    I need to check scent because I have several that were supposed to be fragrant but have never been able to smell them. It would have to be early morning...I am in bed often before dark!

  15. I love fragrance in the garden at night, it adds a whole new dimension to sitting out quietly chatting over a glass of wine watching the bats play overhead. I've grown nicotiana for this, but never Datura, must look in to that, thank you!


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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