Night Blooming Flowers in Florida

Kate Mitchell

September 21, 2023

Have you ever heard of a moonlight garden? The idea is to choose plants whose colors, textures and scents come to life as the sun goes down and the moon comes up.

A moonlight garden can be a beautiful, enchanting place to spend time in the evening. It's perfect for those of us who work during the day - or who live in a warmer climate like Florida's, where the heat can sometimes be too oppressive for us to enjoy our outdoor spaces during the daylight hours.

So, take your pick from our list of beautiful night-blooming plants, and get ready to enjoy the sweet fragrance and beguiling atmosphere of your very own night garden!

Night Blooming Flowers We Love

Moonflower Vine

A creamy white flower with a dark green background

Moonflower is a striking name for the ipomoea alba vine. Its large, tubular flowers look a bit like the moon; these white blooms stand out in the low light of the evening.

Moonflower is related to morning glory and its flowers are a similar shape, but they open only at night, when they also release a sweet fragrance. This vine's heart-shaped leaves will add charm to your garden during the day as well.

Plant this beauty near your patio or porch, where you can enjoy not only the scent but also the night-time pollinators it attracts. You may see luna moths or hawk moths visiting your moonflower plant. Typically a perennial, moonflower acts as an annual in Zones 9-11. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil, and needs plenty of water.

Moonflower vine is sometimes confused with datura, a plant that is also known as moonflower! If you're interested, you can get more information on datura from Better Homes and Gardens.

Evening Primrose

Delicate yellow flowers against a dark green background

Oenothera biennis, or evening primrose, is a night-blooming plant with pretty yellow flowers that open in the evening, producing a lemony fragrance. Evening primrose will attract beneficial pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and even moths and bats.

Evening primrose prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It needs plenty of water, especially in hot climates. However, if you notice brown spots on the leaves, this may indicate root rot from excessive amounts of water.

Evening primrose is a native wildflower in the Americas. It can spread very quickly, so it's a good idea to ensure that you keep it under control. You can do this by pinching or cutting spent blossoms, which will prevent self-seeding.

White Gardenia

Dark green foliage and a white flower with thick, creamy petals

White gardenia, gardenia jasminoides, is another popular choice for moonlight gardens. Its glossy green foliage looks attractive during the day, but the creamy white flowers stand out as the sun goes down. The blossoms' zesty, floral scent is particularly strong in the evenings as well.

Plant your gardenia in a location where it will get full sun or partial shade. The soil should be well-drained and should have organic matter added.

Prune in late summer, after blooming has finished, to keep the shape of the plant under control. This will also encourage full blossoming the following year. Hard pruning after October, however, can reduce next year's bloom.

Queen of the Night

A round, white flower with lots of petals and delicate stamens

An aptly named succulent for your night garden, epiphyllum oxypetalum is a vine-like climbing cactus with a spectacular white blossom. The showy flowers open only at night and wilt before dawn; however, this plant's trailing green tendrils still give visual appeal in the daytime.

Queen of the night - also known as night-blooming cereus - is a tropical plant. In the wild it grows as an epiphyte, relying on tree branches for support. It can be grown in hanging baskets, where this cactus vine's stems can create a beautiful trailing display.

Many people prefer to grow queen of the night indoors as it is a delicate tropical plant. However, it is hardy in Zones 10-11. Planet Natural has more information on growing and caring for this unusual member of the cactus family.

Four O'Clocks

A pink-speckled flower with striking yellow stamens

Four o'clocks, or mirabilis jalapa, are deciduous shrubs with small, fragrant flowers in yellow or pink. As the name suggests, the flowers open in the late afternoon. Each bloom tends to be wilted by the following morning, so they are best enjoyed at night.

As four o'clocks do well in full sun, they are a good choice for growing in Florida. They tolerate most types of soil but do best if it's well-drained. These perennial shrubs grow two to three feet tall and up to three feet wide.

You may see butterflies or hummingbirds around your four o'clocks in the daytime. They are also pollinated by nocturnal moths.

Angel's Trumpet

An elegant trumpet-shaped flower dangling from a shrub

Brugmansia, or angel's trumpet, is a woody perennial plant with graceful, aromatic flowers that dangle from its clusters of foliage. The large, striking flowers give off a sweet scent which is particularly strong at night.

Angel's trumpet will grow in full sun in most of Florida, but may prefer some dappled shade in the south of the state. It's not frost-hardy, so will need protecting on colder nights in northern parts of Florida.

Another option is to grow this shrub in a container, although it can reach up to fifteen feet in height when planted outdoors.

White Torch Lily

A large spike of small white flowers

White torch lily, kniphofia uvaria, is a dramatic perennial that stands up in tall spikes of small white flowers. Also known as red hot poker, many varieties of this shrub have red or orange flowers - but a white cultivar will stand out in your moonlight garden.

The sweet, honey-like scent of torch lily will attract pollinators to your garden. This plant prefers full sun and well-drained soil. The mature plant is three to four feet tall; make sure to allow adequate space between stems when planting.

Planning Your Moonlight Garden

Whether you decide to plant one or two night-blooming flowers close to your porch or patio, or go all-out to create your very own night garden for nocturnal strolls and entertaining, be sure to consider the needs of the plants that you select. Most of those mentioned above require plenty of sun and soil that drains well. Choose an appropriate spot in your yard and let your imagination go wild!

As always, if you'd like help in planning out what your outdoor space will look like, the friendly landscaping experts at LawnMore Gainesville are happy to help.

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