When you get the chance to sit outside on a warm summer’s evening (OK, let’s just draw a veil over this summer and plan ahead!) enjoying a BBQ with friends, or reading, or perhaps just dozing and enjoying the night air, what could be more wonderful than the subtle fragrance from night-scented flowers enhancing your experience?
Some plants, such as roses, offer up their scent during the heat of the day while others, such as rosemary, release their fragrance only when their leaves have been disturbed. And then there are those plants that hold onto their scent during the day, only releasing it when the sun has gone and the cooler evening has arrived. These are the night-scented plants.
Why do some plants only release their scent after dark? The reason is pretty logical really – to attract night-time pollinators such as moths and beetles. The scent acts as a guide for the insects, they follow it direct to the plant in search of nectar. For this same reason the flowers of night-scented plants tend to be pale, often white, as this makes them easier for the insects to see in the dark.
These night-scented plants need to be positioned where you will most get the benefit. There is little point in planting them in a part of the garden that won’t be visited after dusk. So, plant them in beds and pots close to your patio, along paths and next to doors.
Do bear in mind that these plants are doing all they can to attract moths… so if you don’t like moths, don’t plant them!
Night-scented plants include:
- Nicotiana Evening Fragrance – A mix of pink, red, lilac, purple and white trumpet-like flowers
- Night-scented Stock – Delicate stems of small lilac flowers.
- Hesperis – Commonly known as “sweet rocket” with clusters of small white flowers.
- Evening Primrose – Large single yellow flowers.
- Night Phlox – A profusion of small delicate flowers above lance-shaped leaves
- Jasminum Officinale – White-flowered jasmine producing very fragrant flowers
Pictured, from the top: Nicotiana Evening Fragrance, Night-scented Stock, Hesperis, Evening Primrose, Night Phlox and Jasminum Officinale.