Sitting outdoors on warm evenings is one of the pleasures of summer. As many of us work during the day – or work in the garden – this is often the best time to relax in our outdoor spaces.
Night-scented plants begin releasing their sweet fragrances as dusk falls. They’ve evolved to attract nocturnal pollinators, such as moths, and are often pale in colour, making them more visible in moonlight.
Discover how to create an area for scented plants.
Plant night-scented plants around a terrace or patio, near an open window or next to a well-worn path to enjoy their perfume more easily.
Here are 12 plants for evening scent.
The scented, trumpet-like flowers of brugmansia can reach 30cm long and range in colour from white to soft orange and red. Brugmansia suaveolens (previously known as Datura) is tender, so is best grown in a pot and given winter protection. All parts of the plant are poisonous, so handle with care.
The fragrance of Hesperis matronalis, or sweet rocket, is as sweet as a violet’s, and most pronounced in the evening. It’s a biennial, available in pink and white forms, and self-seeds readily around the garden.
Nicotiana sylvestris is a tall tobacco plant bearing elegant, long, white flowers with an intense fragrance, especially in the evening. Grow it at the back of a border or in a large pot. It’s a biennial or short-lived perennial that self-seeds readily.
Night phlox (Zaluzianskya ovata) is a neatly domed, compact evergreen. It is smothered with pretty, white scented flowers in summer. It’s not reliably hardy, so is best grown in a pot and brought under cover during winter. Deadhead regularly.
You may be surprised to hear that petunias are scented – especially at night. The Tumbelina series gives off a vanilla perfume. Grow in hanging baskets or pots.
Many wisterias are scented, but Wisteria floribunda cultivars are said to have the strongest scent at night. Grow over a pergola or against a house wall, where the scent can waft in from an open window.
From mid- to late summer, star jasmine or Trachelospermum jasminoides produces pretty white fragrant flowers. This evergreen climber is borderline hardy and is best grown against a wall in mild areas.
Lilium regale bears strongly scented, trumpet-shaped white flowers that are flushed with pink. Plants are easy to grow from bulbs, and do well in a sunny border or container display. They also make excellent cut flowers. Toxic to cats.
Our native honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, is an ideal plant for evening scent. Buy a good-sized plant and train up a wall, fence or pergola.
Night-scented stock (Matthiola longipetala) is an easy-to-grow annual. The tiny blooms pack a fragrant punch. Sow in July for late-summer blooms.
Pinks (Dianthus ‘Memories’)
Low-growing perennial with white, clove-scented blooms. Buy mature plants and grow in the ground or in containers.
Buy good-sized plants of this compact herbaceous perennial. Perfect for containers or the front of a border.
Other night-scented plants to try
- Night-scented jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)
- Evening primrose (Oenothera)
- Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa)
- Perennial white stock (Matthiola perennis ‘Alba’)
- Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’