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Top 10 Plants for Night Gardens

June 27, 2012

Although our ability to see is limited during the night, plants with pale white or yellow blooms and silver foliage can reflect the moonlight in a way that dramatically transforms the landscape. Darkness serves to heighten our other senses in the moonlit garden: nocturnal blooms beckon with their heady fragrances and leaves rustle in the air, lending more enjoyment to the mysteries of night.

Create your own moonlit garden at home with the following plants:

<em>Nicotiana sylvestris</em> (flowering tobacco)

Nicotiana sylvestris (flowering tobacco)

  • A vivacious annual, this plant will grow up to 5’ tall in a season!
  • Long, pendulous, trumpet-shaped flowers open in the evening and release a sweet fragrance
  • Useful in the back of border or near the home where one can enjoy its fragrant blooms

<em>Nassella tenuissima</em> (white tussock)

Nassella tenuissima (white tussock)

  • A delicate, fine-textured ornamental grass
  • Silky, threadlike leaves and flower tufts shimmer silver in the moonlight

<em>Salvia argentea</em> (silver sage)

Salvia argentea (silver sage)

  • A striking perennial with large, silver basal leaves that looks spectacular in the moonlight
  • Use this plant for dramatic foliage and bold texture


<em>Arundo donax</em> 'Variegata'

Arundo donax 'Variegata' (striped giant reed)

  • Variegation picks up moonlight
  • Can create dramatic bold shadows in the evening

<em>Angelonia angustifolia</em>

Angelonia angustifolia 'Cart White' (Carita™)

  • Easy bedding or container plant that will bloom all season

<em>Sansevieria trifasciata</em>

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Silver Queen' (snake-plant)

  • Strong linear and vertical lines
  • Common indoor plant that can also be kept outside


<em>Centaurea cineraria</em> 'Colchester White'

Centaurea cineraria 'Colchester White' (dusty miller)

  • Plant has silver, fine-textured foliage


<em>Thunbergia alata</em> 'White-Eyed Susie'

Thunbergia alata 'White-Eyed Susie' (black-eyed-Susan vine)

  • Climber that blooms all season, both day and night
  • Blooms are cheerful, 1.5” diameter with a bold black eye

<em>Athyrium</em> 'Ghost'

Athyrium 'Ghost' (painted fern)

  • An option for shade or part-shade gardens
  • Beautiful frond day and night

<em>Cleome hassleriana</em> 'White Queen'

Cleome hassleriana 'White Queen'

  • Classic plant or cottage garden annual
  • Unique spider blooms are striking in day against green leaves and at night

For more design inspiration, visit us at Longwood Gardens, where all of these plants on on display, plus more night-blooming beauties. And while you're here, don't miss our new exhibition, Light: Installations by Bruce Munro, a whole new way to experience the Gardens at night.