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Night Blooming Gardens

Written by Jackie Albarella
Imagery by Jackie Albarella

For those of you who find far too little time to stop and smell the flowers, here’s something that might help. With busy days taking up much of summer’s peak blossom hours, why not plant a night blooming garden? This is an oasis perfectly suited to welcome you home after a long day, where you can put your feet up and enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the “after dark” beauties.
    Night blooming flowers are just what they sound like. They “bloom,” or open, in the evening and remain closed during the daylight. Because these flowers bloom at night, that is when they give off their beautiful, fragrant scents.  Evening dew helps intensify the scent, and although some may bloom during the day, it is the nighttime for which they reserve their fragrance.
    The night blooming flowers can be as easy to grow as daytime species. You may want to intermix night bloomers with other varieties so you have a blooming garden all day and all night.  There are lots of varieties and colors from which to choose, but keep in mind a white flower may pop more at night than one of the other colors. Night bloomers can be found at local nurseries or through catalogs. Here are a few plants to spice up your summer nights.
Ipomoea – Sometimes called the moonflower, this resembles the morning glory. It is a white vine that will remain open throughout the night. It likes the same conditions as a morning glory, but it may not be as vigorous. It can be grown from seed and put in the garden when you plant your annuals.
Oenothera or Evening Primrose – This is an easy to grow perennial that has a terrific fragrance and comes in several colors. The white flowered variety is also sometimes known as suncups.
Angel’s Trumpet – This is also known as Brugmansia or Datura wrightii. This is not a perennial in our zone, but can be grown in pots. It is a beautiful plant but is poisonous, so take care where you plant it.
Four O’clock Flower – This blooms in the late afternoon and lasts until morning. It comes in a variety of colors including pink, red, yellow and blue, and has a great fragrance. It can make a great border plant.
    If you want to try something that is more work, but may give you much more excitement, try night blooming varieties of daylilies, or night jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum). This jasmine is part of the Solanaceae family, and is not much to look at, but what a great fragrance!
    There are even night bloomers for your water garden. They are lilies that come in pinks, white and yellows, and have large flowers up to nine inches across. Leave plenty of room in your water garden for these plants as they spread six to nine feet wide.
    A night blooming garden is a perfect addition to the edge of your patio or deck where you spend those long, luxurious summer evenings. Some people like to plant night bloomers outside their bedroom windows, and as the gentle summer breezes blow, these flowers give new meaning to the phrase sweet dreams. 

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