Enjoy the Backyard Benefits of a Moon Garden

Updated: May 17, 2023

Grow night-blooming flowers for beauty after dark. Plus learn why a moon garden is so beneficial for pollinators such as moths, bats and bees.

moonflower at nightCourtesy Clay Finney
Moonflowers slowly open in the evening.

Most of us notice how gorgeous gardens are when the sun is shining, but how often do we see what a garden looks like at night? Between dusk and dawn, when moonlight illuminates the plants, visitors can enjoy unique insight into a garden’s personality. Night pollinators such as moths, native bees and bats are attracted to plants in a moon garden with white and pale-colored flowers that are intensely fragrant and produce a lot of nectar. As you walk through the moon garden, you will be able to watch these varied and industrious third-shift pollinators as they go about their important work.

Moon Garden Pollinator Benefits


White-lined Sphinx Moth Feeding on Yellow Lantana FlowersLois_McCleary/Getty Images
White-lined sphinx moth flying above yellow lantana flowers in a moon garden

White flowers show up well in moonlight, so moths flock to them. Moths also have an amazing sense of smell. They love flowers that are highly scented. Some moths hover over the plants to sip nectar with their very long tongues, and others land on flowers while they feed. Many kinds of moths, like sphinx moths, will visit honeysuckle, columbine and amsonia blue star.


276779956 1 Luke George Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Luke George
Queen of the Night’ cactus plant

In the arid Southwest, three kinds of nectar-feeding bats pollinate night-blooming plants. They prefer the nectar of large flowers, such as agave, yucca and many types of cacti. Blooms of white, purple and green, along with very strong scents, will attract these beneficial nighttime creatures.

Discover 9 features to look for in a bat house.

Native Bees

A pretty yellow evening primroseChushkin/Getty Images
Evening primrose

Although most bee species, including domestic honeybees, do their pollinating during the day, a few native bees, such as small sweat bees, work by night, using the moon and starlight to navigate through the garden. They pollinate evening primrose, monarda and campion.

Night-Blooming Flowers for Moon Gardens

Brugmansia Datura Angel's Trumpet Flower In Summer GardenMaksims Grigorjevs/Getty Images
White colored moonflower (Brugmansia) will glow after dark

“I’d like to add flowers that are suitable for moon gardens. What night-blooming plants do you suggest?” asks Field Editor Linda Barnes of New London, Ohio.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers says, “It’s fun to add to the night landscape with white flowering plants! Both the very toxic Brugmansia and less toxic, white, night-blooming member of the morning glory group (Ipomoea alba) are commonly called moonflowers and are often included in moon gardens. You can also find a variety of plants with white flowers that remain open in the night.

Consider growing white-flowered varieties of annuals such as sweet alyssum, angelonia, verbena, cosmos, globe amaranth and flowering tobacco. Or try white-flowered varieties of perennials. Start the season off with white bleeding hearts, Dove columbine and peonies such as Festiva Maxima.

Fill the summer garden with Shasta daisies; White Swan, Fragrant Angel and Virgin echinaceas; and fragrant hardy lilies. Finish the summer and head into fall with Honorine Jobert anemone. Add some fragrance with a pot of tuberoses and additional color with night-blooming phlox and four-o’clocks.”

A moon garden can also include flowers in pale hues of yellow, blue, purple, green and pink, along with plants that have either silver or gray foliage. The pale blooms and silvery foliage reflect the light of the moon and stars, giving the garden a delicate glow. Plants with flowers that bloom at night, such as yucca, or blossoms that open at dusk and close in the morning, such as evening primrose, are magnets for night pollinators.

Moon Garden Plants with Silver and Gray Foliage

moon garden, Lavender Blooming In Pot Against White WallYin Jiang/Getty Images
Lavender growing in a container
  • Lavender: flowers of purple and blue
  • Woolly lambs’ ears: pink flowers
  • Horned poppy: yellow or orange flowers
  • Sea kale: sprays of white flowers
  • Helichrysum: yellow clusters of tiny flowers
  • Santolina: yellow button flowers
  • Silver Blade evening primrose: large pale yellow flowers
  • Pussy-toes: delicate white or pink flowers
  • Sage: flowers of purplish blue

Next, check out 15 beautiful white flowering shrubs.