Hopefully every gardener will have the opportunity, weather and warmth to enjoying sitting outside on at least a few evenings this summer. Chatting and eating with friends, reading, or maybe just having a doze and enjoying the night air. And hopefully that air will carry the subtle fragrance from night-scented flowers.
Some plants such as roses and honeysuckle offer up their scent during the heat of the day whilst others, such as the herbs mint and 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 we call night-scented plants.
So, why do some plants only release their scent after dark? The reason is to attract night-time pollinators such as moths and beetles. The scent simply 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 pollinating 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.
Ideally chose a fairly sheltered spot. You want the fragrance to gently sit on the night-air rather than simply being blown away.
Just one word of caution. These plants are doing all they can to attract moths so if you don’t like moths you’d better not 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