Night-blooming gardens make for scented summer evenings

Last Updated: 
September 2, 2010

Nicotiana, a fragrant annual whose scent is more intense at night, has pink, red, green or white flowers. Photo courtesy of All American Selections.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Summer evenings are a perfect time to experience the sweet scent of night-blooming flowers. Enjoy their fragrance after dark while you sit on a porch or in the yard after dinner. Or how about a window box or trellis outside your bedroom window?

Many night-blooming flowers are white, explained Barb Fick, home horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. Sweetly scented night bloomers attract night-flying moths that feed on their nectar and pollen. The following flowers emit their fragrance at night:

Brugmansia (formerly known as Datura) is a bushy plant with large, white, trumpet-shaped, fragrant flowers, commonly called Angel’s trumpet. This tender perennial needs to be protected from frost and is not recommended if you have children or pets, as it is poisonous.

Evening primrose – a weedy-looking plant by day – is an olfactory spectacle at night, when the large yellow flowers give off a sweet aroma.

Evening-scented stock is a small plant that opens after sunset to reveal purple flowers and a wonderful spicy scent over much of the summer.

Four o’clocks, like their namesake, open in late afternoon of late summer.

Garden heliotrope (Valerian officinalis) is a perennial with tiny pink blossoms that grows up to five feet tall and exudes its fragrance after dark. "It can self sow, however, and be invasive if allowed to get out of hand," Fick advised.

Climbing moonflower, a relative of the morning glory, produces fragrant, white, four-to-six inch flowers that unfurl after dark.

Nicotiana is a fragrant annual whose scent is more intense at night and has pink, red, green or white flowers.

Author: Judy Scott
Source: Barb Fick