Plant a night-scented garden


Flowers that release their scent in the evening are a big draw for moths. They also give us the pleasure of sweet perfume, striking silhouettes and luminous glow.

As with other flowering plants, it is worth remembering where best to site them because although they will be giving off their scent at night, they still need the right conditions in the daytime! Below are some of the best night-time nectar providers.

Buddleia: Buddleja davidii ‘White Profusion’

We are used to the lilac or purple form of buddleia but this white variety is a luminous plant with fragrant flowers that makes it irresistible to moths. Plant in a sunny, well-drained position.

Caryopteris x clandonensis

A compact deciduous shrub with clusters of vivid blue flowers opening from deep indigo buds in late summer. Blue flowers will glow under moonlight, attracting moths. Grow in a sunny, sheltered spot in well-drained soil.

Eryngium giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’

Moth-friendly plant related to sea holly; it has tiny blue flowers which sit within the rosettes of silvery-grey bracts of this architectural plant. Grows best in poor to moderately fertile soil and in full sun.

Evening primrose: Oenothera sp.

Night-flying insects are attracted to the delicate fragrance of this pretty flower. Remaining closed during the day, its petals then uncurl amazingly rapidly at dusk. These drought-tolerant plants are ideal for stony sites in full sun.

Globe Artichoke: Cynara cardunculus

Loved by moths, this plant creates a striking silhouette at dusk. Grow in well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered position.

‘Great Orme’

A moth-attracting shrub of small pink to white flowers clustered in dense spikes. Also try ‘Sapphire’ AGM for a blue/purple variant. Easy to grow in poor to moderately fertile soil in sun or partial shade.

Honeysuckle: Lonicera ‘Graham Thomas’

Honeysuckle produces a wonderful aroma in the evening making it particularly attractive to moths. ‘Graham Thomas’ is a large, twining deciduous climber. Its white flowers turn to buff yellow over its long flowering season. Thrives in any moist, well-drained soil, but grows best in partial shade.

Jasmine: Jasminum officinale

This white-flowered jasmine is a vigorous twining shrub producing very fragrant flowers, attracting moths and glowing under moonlight. Ideal position is a warm, sunny and sheltered spot, but can cope with partial shade.

Tobacco plant: Nicotiana sylvestris

This flowering tobacco plant is sweetly scented and a magnet for moths. The luminous white flowers grow up to 9cm (3 12in) long in the summer. Prefers fertile, moist but well-drained soil in sun or partial shade.

Verbena bonariensis

Its tall, erect stems, that grow up to 2m (6ft 8in) in height, make this a good architectural plant. Moths, as with bees and butterflies in the day, are attracted to the clusters of small, purple flowers. Grow in a sunny spot, in moist, well-drained and moderately fertile soil.