Summer evenings are perfect times to experience the sweet scents of night-blooming flowers. Enjoy their fragrance after dark while sitting on the porch or in the yard after dinner. Or how about a window box or trellis outside the bedroom window?
Many night-blooming flowers are white, explains Barb Fick, home horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. Sweetly scented night bloomers attract night-flying moths that feed on their nectar and pollen. The following flowers emit their fragrances at night:
Brugmansia (formerly known as datura) is a bushy plant with large, white, trumpet-shaped, fragrant flowers, commonly called "angel's trumpet." This tender perennial needs to be protected from frost and is not recommended if you have children or pets, as it is poisonous.
Evening primrose is a weedy-looking plant by day but an olfactory spectacle at night, when the large, yellow flowers give off a sweet aroma.
Evening-scented stock is a small plant that opens after sunset to reveal purple flowers and a wonderful, spicy scent over much of the summer.
Four o'clocks, like their namesake, open in late afternoon of late summer.
Garden heliotrope (Valerian officinalis) is a perennial that grows up to 5 feet tall with tiny, pink blossoms that exude its fragrance after dark. "It can self-sow, however, and be invasive if allowed to get out of hand," Fick advises.
Climbing moonflower, a relative of morning glory, produces fragrant, white, 4- to 6-inch flowers that unfurl after dark.
Nicotiana is a fragrant annual whose scent is more intense at night and has pink, red, green or white flowers.
Judy Scott writes for Northwest Gardeners E-News, an online project of Oregon State University Extension.