Moon gardens typically contain plants with flowers and foliage that look luminous in the moonlight. These night-blooming plants have petals that typically open in the late afternoon and close the following day. Moon garden plants generally feature flowers with white or light petals and a pleasant fragrance that attracts nocturnal pollinators, particularly bats and moths.
Colorado Four O'Clock
The Colorado four o’clock plant (Mirabilis multiflora) belongs to the Nyctaginaceae family. Native to the United States (U.S.), this plant grows well in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah and California. This herbaceous perennial reaches up to 3 feet in height with similar widths. Dark magenta to purple flowers bloom from April to September. The fragrant, tubular flowers open around 4 p.m. and close the following morning. The Colorado four o’clock plant prefers rocky, dry soils in partially shady locations. Gardeners often use this nocturnal plant for ground cover, borders and erosion control.
Night-blooming cereus (Peniocereus greggii), a perennial shrub in the cactus family (Cactaceae), generally thrives in the dryer climates of Arizona, West Texas and New Mexico. This nocturnal bloomer features large, white or pale pink flowers that open in the evening and close early the next morning. Night-blooming cereus plants work well in rock gardens.
The evening primrose (Oenothera deltoids), also called the birdcage primrose and the devil’s lantern, is an herbaceous annual belonging to the Onagraceae family. Native to the deserts of Arizona and California, this plant grows well in warmer, dry climates. The fragrant flowers emerge with white petals that fade to pink. These flowers bloom from March through May on stems ranging from 2 to 10 inches in height. This plant prefers sandy soils in locations that receive full sun. The evening primrose works well in woodland gardens and open fields.
The moonflower (Ipomoea alba), a nocturnal vine in the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), requires rich, moist soils in partly sunny to fully sunny positions. Sometimes called the evening glory plant, the moonflower’s petals open late in the afternoon and last only until the following sunrise. The fragrant, pure white flowers measure about 6 inches in diameter. This tropical plant typically grows well in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. Gardeners often plant moonflowers on supporting structures, such as fences, gazebos and arbors.
Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), sometimes called night-blooming cestrum, is a shrub belonging to the nightshade family (Solanaceae). The aromatic, greenish-white flowers bloom at night during warmer weather. Native to the West Indies and tropical America, the night-blooming jasmine performs well in USDA zones 8 to 11. This plant prefers sandy, moist soils in fully sunny locations. Gardeners often use night-blooming jasmine in butterfly gardens, borders and backgrounds.
The angel’s trumpet (Datura inoxia), also called the toloache and the downy thornapple, is an herbaceous perennial in the Solanaceae family. Mature plants mound up to 3 feet in height and 6 feet in width. The fragrant, trumpet-shaped blossoms feature white or light lavender petals that open in the evening and close around noon the following day. Native to the American Southwest, this plant prefers partially to fully sunny locations and well-drained, loamy soils. The angel’s trumpet usually grows well in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 10. Gardeners typically use the angel’s trumpet as background plants.