The moon garden is a relatively new concept that is gaining popularity in the gardening world. The purpose of the moon garden is to create an outdoor space that can be enjoyed in the evening, without the use of too many artificial lights.
As the temperatures are on the rise, such a space is ideal to get your daily dose of outdoor relaxation in a beautiful environment. This type of outdoor space will break the traditional garden space, creating a magical, almost mystical vibe.
If you want to transform your garden into an oasis of evening relaxation keep on reading to discover how to bring some magic to your outdoor space.
Advantages of a moon garden
A lovely night garden can make your life better in so many ways. Here are just a few of the many ways in which such a garden will improve your life.
You can relax outdoors without suffering from the heat
If you live in a northern location, you are probably making the most of every second of summer by spending as much time as possible outdoors. However, if you live in an area with hot summers, chances are you are sleeping next to the air conditioner and avoiding the outdoors at all costs.
While the cool indoors might be tempting, your nervous system will surely miss the connection with the outdoors. To avoid the consequences of disconnecting from nature, you need to start working on your moon garden. It will give you the chance to relax in natural scenery without being affected by extreme heat.
You will attract a wider range of pollinators to your garden
Moon gardens contain a lot of white flowers which attract nocturnal pollinators. You can expect your garden to be visited by bats, moths, and even some species of native bees which do their work at night.
Flowers that bloom in the evening produce a lot of nectar, so your moon garden will do a lot of good for the environment. Don’t worry about being attacked by these nocturnal pollinators. Their focus will be mostly on the plants, and you can simply enjoy watching them do their hard work.
You will add versatility to your garden
In a garden, any space must have a purpose, be it aesthetic or utilitarian. By creating different areas in your garden, you will add versatility, both in terms of aesthetics and purpose. From an aesthetic point of view, a moon garden will become a light oasis.
It will look great during the day, but it will burst with life and mystery at night. From a utilitarian point of view, it will allow you to enjoy your garden at all times of the day and night.
What are the main elements of a moon garden?
In terms of landscaping a garden is defined by several characteristics: layout, hardscape, plants, furniture, decorations, and lighting.
A moon garden can be as small or as big as you want it or as your space allows it. What matters is not its size, but its layout. First of all, it should be relatively easy to access. You shouldn’t have to walk a lot and turn on a lot of lights to be able to reach it.
Secondly, consider the times when you are more likely to spend time in your evening garden and make sure it is lighted by the moon at those times. You will have a lot of white elements in your evening garden, but they have to be lit by the moon to reflect light.
The most appropriate areas for a moon garden are near the patio or the porch. When analyzing how the moon will fall on your garden, also consider the shadows that it may cast. You can use certain landscape elements to create interesting shadow designs. This is the type of landscaping trick that can create texture and mystery.
The hardscape encompasses all hard materials used for a landscaping project. This means anything from pathways to paved areas, walls, stairs, and other practical elements. It also includes hard decorative elements such as rocks, gravel, or wood.
Hardscape materials are not a must, but they can make a space more interesting. In a moon garden, opt for light grey landscape elements. Use natural rocks of various sizes to delimit certain spaces. You can use pebbles and flat rocks to create pathways.
Rock decorations look particularly well. If space allows it consider a moon gate made of natural rocks. A moon gate is a circular opening in a garden wall, but it can also stand on its own without the wall. It is traditionally used in Chinese, Japanese, and Bermudian gardens but it also looks great in moon gardens. In the Asian culture, it symbolizes birth and renewal.
There is a wide variety of plants that you can use in your moon garden. Most people focus on plants with white flowers that open late in the afternoon or the evening. Nonetheless, you can also compliment them with other plants such as plants with grey foliage or trees with white or light-grey bark.
You can also play with potted plants. For example, place some plants with white flowers in dark hanging baskets. In the evening, it will seem as if the plants are floating. You can also place them in solar pots that will radiate a magical glow at night. If you don’t know what plants to choose don’t worry, as we will present you with our top choices.
The furniture in a moon garden must be kept to a minimum. You want this area of the garden to seem mystical and untouched. If you must have furniture, try to find some pieces of furniture that blend in with the decor or that give a magical fairy vibe.
For example, you can use a white trellis, a white pallet bench, or a white fence with intricate details. Hammocks and hanging chairs can also look good. If you insist on patio furniture opt for dark colour cushions so that they can blend into the night. Midnight blue and dark green are your best options.
As far as decorations go, opt for whatever suits your taste. You can keep it simple or you can play with fairy houses, rock decorations, or glow-in-the-dark pebbles. Water features are also great. Ponds are good for their reflective qualities.
They also attract bullfrogs and other creatures that add to the nocturnal symphony. Waterfalls and springs are also great as the sounds of running water are deeply relaxing. Small rock sculptures can also look great in this space. You can opt for sculptures that depict forest animals or fairies.
Artificial lighting is optional in a moon garden. If it is used right, it can look very natural and complement the decor in just the right way. You have three main types of lighting that you need to consider: functional, accent and ambience lights.
Functional lights are meant to help you navigate in the dark. You usually place them along pathways or to light up areas dedicated to special activities. Accent lights are used to highlight certain features such as the bases of trees or flowerbeds. You can also play with underwater lights. Last but not least, ambient lights create a pleasant vibe in the garden.
Ambient lights can consist of fairy lights, candles, string lights, glowing orbs, and lanterns. Play with both hanging lights and ground lights to add depth and verticality to your garden.
Best Moon Garden Plants
As we already mentioned, the main characteristics of moon garden plants are white flowers that bloom late in the afternoon or the evening. Plants with light green or grey foliage also work. We made a list of our favorite plants.
In the botanical world, the moonflower is known as Ipomoea alba. It is also referred to as white morning glory or moon vine. It is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of America. It is a herbaceous liana that can reach a top height of 30 m.
It has three-lobed leaves with a top length of 15 cm. It develops trumpet-shaped white or pink flowers with an intense fragrance. The flowers are about 15 cm long and 10 cm wide. As its name suggests, this plant blooms at night. Its flowers open quickly and last throughout the night until they are touched by the morning dew. It blooms from mid-summer to mid-fall.
This plant is best grown in areas with hot summers. Its flowers thrive during short summer nights. It can be grown in the north, but the long summer nights will affect the flowering period. In northern areas, the blooming period might happen in the autumn when the nights start shortening.
This plant is relatively short of maintenance. It needs a trellis or another type of vertical support to grow on. It spreads pretty quickly so consider deadheading if you don’t want it to take over the garden. It’s very challenging to propagate it from cuttings or seeds.
It is best to let it self-seed and tend to the seedlings that sprout near it. Moonflower prefers rich, loamy soil and full sun exposure. It needs a moderate amount of water, so make sure the soil is kept relatively moist, especially when the plant is young.
2. Nicotiana Alata
This plant is more commonly known as Winger Tobacco, Flowering Tobacco, Jasmine Tobacco, or Persian Tobacco. While it is technically a type of Tobacco, it is mostly grown as an ornamental plant. It is sometimes used to produce shisha tobacco.
It flowers from summer to fall. Its flowers are lime green, white, pink, yellow, or crimson. It can reach a top height of 60 cm and a top spread of 40 cm. It blooms late in the afternoon or the evening and the flowers last all night long. The flowers are trumpet shaped but they have a longer and thinner funnel than the moonflower.
This plant thrives in full sun, but it can also survive in partial shade. Ideally, it should get at least 6 hours of sunshine each day. It needs to be watered frequently and it has a very low drought tolerance. It is best grown in containers or borders.
To prolong the flowering season, make sure to deadhead it regularly. It can be grown as a perennial in areas with mild winters or as an annual in colder climates. To overwinter it, cut it back in late autumn and mulch around its base. It is a self-seeder to expect to find seedlings around it. To propagate it yourself, sow the seeds indoors in early spring and gradually introduce the seedlings to the outdoors.
3. Dusty Miller
This plant goes by many names. In the botanical world, it is known as Jacobaea Maritima, although until recently, it was known as Senecio Cineraria. It is also known as Silver Ragwort. It Is grown for its silvery gray foliage which looks lovely in the evening, bathed in the moonlight.
It is native to the Mediterranean region, where it grows as a perennial. Nonetheless, it is also grown as an annual in colder climates. It can reach a top height of 60 cm with a similar width. In colder regions, it reaches a top height of 40 cm. It has woolly, feather-shaped leaves with deep lobes. The leaves reach a top length of 15 cm and a top width of 8 cm.
Dusty Miller needs light, well-drained soil, and plenty of natural sunlight. The fuzzy leaves have excellent moisture retaining capacity. This makes this plant very hardy in drought conditions. This plant is not grown for its flowers.
The small blooms are often cut off. Since they are not showy, it makes sense to cut them to promote foliage growth. It thrives in USDA zones 7-10. Regularly enriching the soil with compost will do wonders for this plant. It doesn’t need much maintenance.
You will only have to cut off the leggy stems in midsummer to keep it looking neat. This plant looks great when planted in masses and it does a great job complementing rocky scenarios.
Also known as Hortensia, the Hydrangea genus contains over 75 species of flowering plants. It is native to America and Asia. Most plants are shrubs that can reach a top height of 3 m, but some liana plants can reach a top length of 30 m. Most species are deciduous.
They bloom in shades of blue, white, pink, or violet. Most of them grow round clusters, but some grow grape-shaped flower clusters. The flowers are delicate and have 4 petals. The shape of the petals can differ, depending on the flower variety, but most flowers are clover shaped.
Hydrangeas prefer partial sun. They thrive on morning sun and afternoon shade, but this can differ for each variety. Some species are more tolerant of shade while others are more tolerant to full sun exposure. They like fertile, well-draining soil and need to be watered frequently. They look good when planted in masses, but they need to be spaced about 3 meters apart.
For a moon garden, we recommend a plant with white or blue flowers. As far as propagation goes, softwood cuttings are the best choice. Place the cuttings in the ground and cover them with mulch or clay pots to help them survive winter. If you want to transplant a container plant, do it in autumn, in the morning, or in the afternoon. The colder weather makes the transplant less stressful.
Learn more about growing and caring for these fascinating plants by reading our complete guide to Hydrangeas.
The Tuberose is yet another evening blooming plant with an intense fragrance. This perennial is native to Mexico but it is now grown all over the world. This is a tall and slender plant that will add verticality to your garden.
It is best planted in the background, so it doesn’t overshadow shorter plants. It can reach a top height of 90 cm with a similar spread. It produces clusters of white, trumpet-shaped flowers. Due to its intense fragrance, it is widely used in the perfume industry, cosmetics, and the essential oil industry.
Based on the number of rows of petals that they have, tuberose plants are divided into 4 categories: single, semi-double, double, and variegated.
This plant is suitable for USDA zones 7-11. It can be a tad high maintenance in zones 7,8, and 11. It can be grown in colder zones as well but it will behave as an annual. This is a sun-loving plant that thrives in fertile, moist soil with good drainage.
It can be propagated through bulbs or bulb segments which must be planted in early spring. Plants should be spaced about 30 cm apart. As far as feeding goes, manure and organic compost work best, but you can also get good results with a balanced fertilizer.
6. Angel’s trumpet
Brugmansia, commonly known in the gardening world as Angel’s trumpets are evergreen trees or shrubs. A mature tree can reach a top height of 8 meters. Its flowers are trumpet-shaped and hang like pendants. It blooms in shades of white, yellow, pink, and orange-red.
For a moon garden, choose one with white or light pink flowers. This plant is deeply fragrant, but it is best to place it in an area where you won’t have the chance to smell it. This plant is highly poisonous, so you should only consider it growing it if you have no pets and place it further away from your sitting areas. Every part of the plant is poisonous, and its mere fragrance can cause hallucinations. High exposure can even be lethal in some cases.
This plant is suitable for USDA zones 9 and 10. It prefers fertile, moist soil with plenty of sun exposure. It needs a lot of nutrients, so you should feed it at least once if not twice a month. The feeding period is in spring and summer.
It needs about 10 cm of water per week, so consider an irrigation system if you don’t live in an area with frequent rain. You can propagate it from softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings. Take the cuttings in spring and summer. Root them in water and then transplant them outdoors.
Learn more about these attractive ornamentals from our complete guide to Brugmansia.
7. Evening primrose
We prefer white and blue flowers for a moon garden. They give a cooler and more mystical vibe. Nonetheless, if you want to add some warmth to your evening garden, the Evening Primerose is your best choice. It blooms during summer and fall. It can reach a top height of 150 cm and a top width of 90- cm. Its blooms are yellow or light pink.
It grows clusters of four-petaled flowers. The petals are round or heart-shaped. This plant has amazing medicinal properties. Evening primrose oil is particularly helpful for treating hormonal problems like PMS, menopause symptoms, thyroid problems, breast pain, and other conditions. You can also use it to make tea which is good for headaches, dizziness, or cardiac problems.
This plant is suitable for USDA zones 4 to 9. It thrives in full sun exposure, but it can also grow well in partial sun. It needs to be watered regularly, especially in hot climates. It can handle infertile soil as long as it has good draining properties. You can propagate this plant through seeds that you sow in autumn.
This is an evergreen shrub that blooms late in the afternoon. It is usually grown indoors but it can also make a great outdoor plant under the right conditions. This plant comes in many varieties, the most popular ones being August beauty, Fortuniana, and Crown.
Its blooms are usually white or yellow. The flowers can differ greatly from one variety to another. Some are shaped like daisies while others bloom in multiple layers like roses. Some have round, flat petals, while others have ruffled or elliptical petals. The only constant is its intoxicating fragrance. It can reach a top height of 240 cm with a similar spread.
Gardenia is suitable for USDA zones 7 10 11. It grows best in partial sun. In hot climates, it needs protection from the scorching afternoon sun. It needs rich, slightly acidic soil with good drainage. It needs to be watered weekly or even twice a week in hot conditions. Learn more about these flowering shrubs from our complete guide to Gardenia.
Building a moon garden is not difficult. Follow our simple guidelines, but feel free to let your imagination roam free and add a personal touch to your garden. We’ve only included a short list of flowers to make it easier for you to fill your garden with beautiful plants that bloom in the evening or at night.
We’ve described a few attractive plants that happen to be out favorites, but you can consider any type of evening blooms like Night Gladiolus, Night Phlox, Evening Rain Lillies, Foamflowers, Mock Oranges, Lavender, Wooly Lamb’s Ears or Four O’Clock Flowers. The important thing is to always choose plants that are non-invasive and preferably native to your area. Native plants will attract beneficial insects and will have a positive impact on the ecosystem.
Keep in mind that the purpose of this garden is fo you to enjoy it at night, so make sure it is easy to reach and it has designated relaxation areas.
Do you have a moon garden? Share your experience in the comments!