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Enjoy an Evening Garden

Night blooming cereus. Photo credit: Sally Menk, UF/IFAS Master Gardener.

Night blooming cereus makes a stunning display. Photo credit: Sally Menk, Florida Master Gardener.

Many of us are working during the day and are not enjoying our gardens during the daytime. And maybe it is just too warm in the summer to be outside during the heat of the day.  That leaves us to enjoy our gardens later in the day when the sun fades and evening approaches.

As the sunlight diminishes, the bright colors fade slowly to a black, gray and white world. The first colors to fade are the blues, purples and reds. Pastel pinks, yellows, oranges, grays and blues remain more visible for a longer time and take on a luminescent quality in the pale light. White blossoms now have their time to shine as they stand out against the darker hues of foliage and flowers.

Four O'Clocks. Photo credit: Sandra Sherman, UF/IFAS Master Gardener.

White four o’clock. Photo credit: Sandra Sherman, Florida Master Gardener.



If you find that your time in the garden is late in the day and into the evening, consider planning for that in your plant selections.

Here are some suggestions when planning your twilight garden:

  • Add some late-afternoon and night-blooming plants such as four o’clocks, moonflower and night-blooming cereus
  • Plants with silvery gray or white foliage glimmer in the moonlight. Consider white caladium, lamb’s-ears, silvery agaves, dusty miller and licorice plant among others. The white in variegated leaves of plants such as pentas, hosta, ginger and dogwood will stand out when dark green leaves have faded into the darkness.
  • The tranquil sounds of a fountain will enhance end of the day relaxation.
  • And, of course, add plants with white or pastel-colored flowers. The effect will be enhanced when luminous white blossoms are at different levels; for instance white spider lilies near the ground, white roses at eye level and white sparkleberry high above.

    Pastel four o'clock opens late in the day. Photo credit: Linda Griffin, UF/IFAS Master Gardener.

    Pastel four o’clock opens late in the day. Photo credit: Linda Griffin, Florida Master Gardener.











3 Comments on “Enjoy an Evening Garden

  1. An excellent article on what and how to plant for a visually appealing evening garden; the mention of sound was nice, as well. But what about fragrance? You can smell flowers you can’t see at night, as well as some you can. Some four o’clocks are fragrant, but apparently some are not. One cultivar of Datura inoxia (Datura meteloides) ‘Evening Fragrance’ has an intoxicating fragrance; moreover it’s flower is white and showy. Nicotianas are fragrant at night, too, and some have white flowers. Certain ginger lilies will also perfume the evening garden. And, of course, roses, though some of those are more fragrant than others.

    • Thank you for your comments about scent in the evening garden. They do add to the experience. The datura are showy and fragrant at night but be cautioned; datura is toxic when ingested and can be irritating to some when handled.

  2. There’s nothing like relaxing in my garden after a tough day at work. I have a couple of night blooming flowers like four-o-clocks, evening primrose and moonflowers that instantly brighten up my mood when I sit in the garden after dinner. I’m just mesmerised by the lovely blooms that open up at night.
    Thanks for sharing ideas that can help me enhance my night garden. Will definitely try planting some of the plants you suggest.