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Discover Fragrant Flowers That Bloom at Night

Updated on February 21, 2024

Enjoy your garden around the clock when you plant fragrant flowers that bloom at night and attract pollinators.

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Photo: Julie Martens Forney

Moonflowers Unfurl Blooms at Night

The garden is a different world in the evening. Night-blooming plants seem to glow in the moonlight while fragrant flowers lure nectar-sipping moths; bats snapping up pesky insects; beetles; certain bees; and other pollinators. A garden designed to be enjoyed after sunset is especially inviting if you're away from home during the day and miss being outdoors.

"Moonflower" sounds romantic, but Ipomoea alba has other names, including moon vine and white morning glory. This beauty is a tender vine that unfurls silky-white, 6-inch blooms on warm evenings, perfuming the air from summer until frost and luring nocturnal pollinators like sphinx moths.

Hardy in USDA Gardening Zones 10-12, moonflowers are easy to grow from seeds. Moonflowers need moist, rich soil that drains easily and full sun to grow 10 to 20 feet tall and 6 feet across. Let them trail from hanging baskets and window boxes, climb trellises or spread as groundcovers. Moonflower plants are toxic and their seeds are hallucinogenic, so keep animals and children away.

Browse our collection of beautiful, fragrant night bloomers and make a list of the ones you want to plant. Most are easy to grow, so you'll have time to sit back and enjoy the show after dark.

grow moonflower

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Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Nicotiana

Also called flowering tobacco, jasmine tobacco or night-scented tobacco, Nicotiana is an old-fashioned favorite that blooms from late afternoon into the night, luring moths and hummingbirds to its jasmine-like scent. Nicotiana alata (N. tabacum is the smoking species) ranges from 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide and is usually treated like an annual. In Zones 10 to 11, it's a tender perennial. Nicotiana plants contain nicotine and are toxic to animals (but bats sometimes visit for their nectar).

Give the plants moist, well-draining soil enriched with organic matter and full sun to part shade for blooms from summer to fall. There are about 67 species; Nicotiana sylvestris (not shown here) grows 3 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide. Its long, white, lightly fragrant flowers hang in clusters from tall stems. Most Nicotianas are easy to grow from seed. Start them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last spring frost or direct sow them after the last frost.

Pictured here: 'Avalon Mix,' a dwarf variety with flowers in lime, pink, purple, white and red.

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Photo: Shutterstock/VISION_4_HUMAN

Night-Blooming Jasmine

Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) is in the same family as potatoes and tomatoes, but it certainly smells better. This woody shrub blooms all summer, opening its fragrant flowers at night. The plants tend to sprawl and re-seed freely (too freely for some gardeners). To keep fallen seeds from sprouting, mulch around the plants and rake up seedlings when you see them. Grow night-blooming jasmine in containers, as a hedge or houseplant, but keep it away from animals and people because it's toxic.

The plants take full sun to partial shade; they bear fewer blooms in shade. Indoors, keep the plant in a sunny exposure with good humidity. Night-blooming jasmine needs fertile, moist, acidic to neutral soil that drains easily. Hardy in Zones 8 to 11, it grows 6 to 15 feet tall. Night jasmine is considered invasive in Florida, Hawaii and other areas with tropical growing conditions.

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Photo: American Beauties Native Plants/ABNativePlants.com

Chocolate Daisy

Pull off the petals of chocolate daisies in the morning, when their fragrance is the strongest, to enjoy their pleasing cocoa odor. Also called chocolate flower and lyreleaf greeneyes (sic), Berlandiera lyrata belongs to the aster family and blooms at night.

In Zones 4 to 10, chocolate daisies are perennials that grow 12 to 15 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. They form mounds of velvety, gray-green foliage and golden, daisy-like blooms with red-brown stamens and green eyes. Use these wildflowers in groups for the most impact. They bloom from spring until frost and are especially pretty in meadows, rock gardens and beds, where they attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. They prefer full sun but tolerate partial shade, tolerate drought, and adapt to dry, rocky or sandy soils as long as they have good drainage. They’re easy to grow, naturalize well and resist deer.

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