long, thin flower spike is covered in small, white flowers

Top 10 Plants for Night Gardens

By Jim Sutton, on

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:

thin, white, pendulous flowers dangle from the tip of a long, green, leaf-covered stem

Nicotiana sylvestris (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 border or near the home where one can enjoy its fragrant blooms
white-tipped clumps of grass seems to sway in the breeze

Nassella tenuissima (white tussock)

Nassella tenuissima (white tussock)

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

Salvia argentea (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
Variegated green and white grass

Arundo donax 'Variegata’

Arundo donax 'Variegata' (striped giant reed)

  • Variegation picks up moonlight
  • Can create dramatic bold shadows in the evening
long, thin flower spike is covered in small, white flowers

Angelonia angustifolia

Angelonia angustifolia 'Cart White' (Carita™)

  • Easy bedding or container plant that will bloom all season
pale green, broad leaves grow vertically from the ground

Sansevieria trifasciata

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Silver Queen' (snake-plant)

  • Strong linear and vertical lines
  • Common indoor plant that can also be kept outside
gray-green, multi-lobed plant stem

Centaurea cineraria 'Colchester White’

Centaurea cineraria 'Colchester White' (dusty miller)

  • Plant has silver, fine-textured foliage
Two 5-petaled white flowers with deep purple centers

Thunbergia alata '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
pale green fern leaves with medium purple stems

Athyrium 'Ghost’

Athyrium 'Ghost' (painted fern)

  • An option for shade or part-shade gardens
  • Beautiful frond day and night
bright white flowers with long, thin stamens sit on top of tall green stems with 5-petaled leaves

Cleome hassleriana '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.

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