How to Design a Moon Garden

White Flowers That Shine in the Moonlight

February 17, 2021
Moon garden
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What is a Moon Garden? Imagine a garden of flowers and foliage that also glows in the moonlight with fragrances to enchant the senses. See how to make a magical Moon Garden—plus, a list of flowers and plants that shine by the light of the Moon!

What is a Moon Garden?

A Moon garden can be enjoyed from dusk to dark—by the light of the Moon—both through sight and smell.

  • White flowers and silvery foliage glow in the moonlight
  • Fragrant plants add to the sensory experience
  • Peaceful sounds with contemporary grasses which rustle in an evening breeze or a water feature can also be relaxing.

A Moon Garden is especially appreciated after the searing heat of a hot summer day when the nicest time to sit outside is during the evening. For folks who are away from their house during the day, it can be so lovely and relaxing to walk around an enchanting evening garden. 

Planning a Moon Garden

  • The flowers and foliage in a Moon garden tend to be white or silvery, but they will only glow if they are in a place accessibly by moonlight, so walk around your property to see if the Moon isn’t blocked by shadows of a structure or fence.
  • A Moon Garden is generally small as it’s mostly white or light flowers, so don’t get too ambitious with the size! Some gardeners like to even plant in the shape of a full Moon or crescent. 
  • When selecting plants, remember this is a flower garden during the day as well! So, ensure your site has 6 to 8 hours of Sun. If it’s going to be in a shady spot, select only plants for shade. (See detail below.)
  • Most flowers will be white or a light, soft color. Avoid any bright or strong colors or they will overpower the garden. 
  • When it comes to white flowers, group them in the same shade of white separated by green or another color. An off-white flower next to a bright-white flower will look faded or dingy.
  • When it comes to scented flowers, separate different scents in the garden as well. 
  • Look for flowers that are “self-cleaning” which means that their flowers falling off on their own. Otherwise you’ll need to “deadhead” and remove blossoms to keep the flowers blooming.

Video: See Moon Garden Flowers!

This video showcases the different flowers and foliage for a Moon Garden! Then see our lists of plants below.

Flowers for a Moon Garden

When it comes to white flowers for a Moon Garden, there are many choices. Shasta daisies, Sweet alyssum (which has lovely flowers that smell like honey), candytuft (Iberis), white creeping phlox, angel’s trumpet (brugmansia), white bleeding heart, mock orange, moonflower vines, climbing white hydrangea, calla lilies, white lilacs, and white lupine.

Don’t forget about the bulbs such as white daffodils, snowdrops and summer snowflakes. 

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Mock orange and white lilacs

Plants With Silver Foliage

White flowers can then be teamed with plants with silvery foliage or those with bright patterns on their leaves.

Good choices are Lambs Ears, Dusty Miller, Silver Sage and Russian Sage. Hostas are particularly useful as many have variegation, for example Hosta fortunei ‘albo–marginata’ that is perfect as it has white margins around dark leaves that stand out.

You can even find inspiration in the kitchen garden: Globe Artichokes have lovely silver leaves and make striking silhouettes at twilight as do their cardoon cousins Cynara cardunculus. These are the most dramatic of all the silver perennials with leaves that are arching, jaggedly dividing and spiny—a very eye–catching presence. 

Plants With Fragrant Night-Time Flowers

These release their scent in the evening to attract moths for pollination and many coincidentally have white flowers. Both flowering tobaccos Nicotiana alata and Nicotiana sylvestris have elegant white flowers with an intense fragrance especially at dusk. Grow these either in a large pot or at the back of the border and watch out for seedlings to pot up for the next year as they readily self seed.

Night blooming jasmine (Night Scented Jessamine, Queen of the Night) is more famous for its scent rather than its flowers. Star Jasmine produces a gorgeous heavy scent and lovely starry white flowers. Buddliea daviddii ‘White Profusion” is a surprise too, a real magnet for night flying moths and has a beautiful carrying fragrance.

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Magnolia Stellata

The moonflower (Ipomoea alba), also known as tropical white morning glory, is another beauty which vines, smells delicately sweet, opens up in the evening and flowers through until daybreak.

Angel’s trumpets (brugmansia) flowers open at night, smell wonderful, and can reach up to 30cm long. As they have a range of colours, make sure you choose a white variety if planning a moon garden and be careful as all parts of the plant are poisonous.

You don’t have to go large—for smaller spaces 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.

Sitting in a Moon Garden

Remember, you don’t have to design a whole garden this way. Just pick an area of the garden suited to sitting out in the evening with a clear view of the night sky. Speaking from experience, our small patio flanked by white, scented plants and solar fairy lights—very cheaply done—is our favorite spot in the garden.

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White Cosmos

TRY OUT THE ALMANAC GARDEN PLANNER FOR FREE

As a courtesy, the online Almanac Garden Planner is free for one week. This is plenty of time to play around on your computer and try it out. There are absolutely no strings attached. We are most interested in encouraging folks to try growing a garden! Try out the Garden Planner on your computer (for free).

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Reader Comments

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Moon Gardens

Another great night blooming flower is the evening primrose. Plants are short to the ground, but send up a 1-3 foot stalk that has multiple,sweet smelling yellow blooms. As night falls, you can watch as the petals open. However be cautioned, like moonflowers, it produces a lot of seeds and can easily 'take over' your garden. You can often see them growing wild along roadways/highways. Also, be aware that Moonflowers produce big, thorny seed pods sort of like sycamore balls which are full of seeds. I usually cut them off before they mature to encourage the plant to keep producing blooms.

Thank you

Thank you folks for what you do. You help us make a better world on our property/little farm/gardens. Although I failed to get my almanac this year, here you are with vital information to help me get by to Fall. Thank you. I WILL get my almanac today - if I can find one.

I planted my pole beans in the wrong moon cycle, and got only blooms. I must replant to get a much needed harvest of beans. Because of your information available online, I am able to do this with confidence. Thank you once again. I am very grateful grandma gardener.

Thank you!

The Editors's picture

Hi Judikay, We very much appreciate your kind words. It may be hard to find the 2020 Almanac right now, but the 2021 Almanac will be available in a month or two! It lasts the entire year. If you pick up a copy, we hope you find it “useful with a pleasant degree of humor!” Thanks, again, Your OFA Editors

Moon Garden

What a lovely idea. :)