Sunny days may ripen fruits and veggies, but dusk and nighttime bring out the best in these flowers.
By Sara Bruskin
Colorado saw its fourth-hottest summer on record in 2021, and The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting another scorcher this year. On sweltering summer days, it’s always a relief when the sun finally dips behind the mountains. You can get the most out of those evening reprieves by creating a garden space you’ll love even more after dark.
With help from Eve Reshetnik Brawner of Harlequin’s Gardens in Boulder, we’ve compiled a list of plants that bloom or release their fragrance in the evening. Many have white or pastel flowers that reflect lots of light, making them stand out more than deep hues in a dim environment.
Take care when planting highly fragrant flowers—placing several scent-heavy plants in close proximity may produce an overwhelming, cloying smell that isn’t altogether pleasant. If you’re unsure, plant them in pots that can be moved around.
A garden staple, the low-maintenance annual petunia releases its sweet fragrance in the evening.
Star-shaped flowers on this well-branched annual produce a jasmine-like scent in the evening and continue blooming for months.
Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’
A fragrant plant at most hours, honeysuckle is especially sweet-smelling after a full day in the hot sun.
Yellow, white and pink flowers release an intense, sweet perfume in the evening. Bulbs are generally planted in spring or fall.
Pastel-colored flowers release their fragrance in the evening with a scent of vanilla, rose and clove.
Tufted Evening Primrose
White flowers bloom in the evening and produce a sweet, lemony scent. Plant this perennial in a sunny xeriscape garden.
This shrub with white flowers smells of orange and jasmine, especially in the evenings.
Four O’Clock Plant
Colorful and sometimes variegated flowers bloom right around 4 p.m. with a subtle, sweet scent.
White, trumpet-like flowers unfurl in the evening with a strong, sweet smell. This deer-proof plant may perennialize in the ground, but will not survive winter in a container.
Famous for their strong evening perfume, the white flowers smell intensely sweet and tropical.
Light the Night
We can’t always rely on clear nights draped in moonlight, so outdoor lighting is helpful for accentuating your night garden’s beautiful flowers (and ensuring you don’t trip over them).
Lights with warm white bulbs give a cozy, homey vibe, while cool white bulbs create a more ethereal atmosphere that’s similar to moonlight. Of course, you’ll want to switch them all off when it’s time to stargaze.
They aren’t just for holiday decor and dorm rooms. Masses of twinkle lights create an outdoor ambience that feels magical.
Festive and fun, large-bulbed string lights are perfect for backyard parties and outdoor meals.
Especially helpful near steps and uneven ground, path lighting casts soft illumination over walkways and nearby plants.
Clusters of lanterns encircling a patio, hanging from trees or nestled among plants add a romantic glow to the night.