Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Night Fragrant Plants

I want to talk about fragrant plants. My good friend Gerrianne loves fragrant plants. She always plants them near her swimming pool so she can enjoy them while she is swimming (usually at night). I think many people pick plants based on fragrance so I will share a few. The night fragrant plants are that way so they can attract night flying pollinators. The butterflies and bees are not flying at night, but moths and beetles are so each flower has a scent distinctive enough to attract these pollinators.

The first one (I have spoken about before), is Brugmansia versicolor, aka Angels Trumpets. It is the picture with a multitude of orange trumpet shaped flowers hanging down on it. It requires full sun, good drainage and if possible, should be sheltered from strong winds. It is not reliably hardy here but I am going to give it a try with mine. I think it will resprout from the roots. The scent is strong and comes out strongest at night.

The second plant is also in the Brugmansia family. It is Datura stramonium, aka Night Blooming Jimsonweed. It is the picture of the big white flower. Some people call it Moonvine but it is not a vine and the commonly called Moon Flower is actually Ipomoea alba. This vine has a flower that looks just like the Night Blooming Jimsonweed but it grows in a vine form and is also fragrant at night. Moonflowers are also a Southern Heritage plant. I do not have a picture of the moonflower because I did not grow it this year. I did grow it one year and it was easy to grow, though it wasn't until August when it finally took off. The picture of the white flower is the Jimsonweed. This flower gets a spiny fruit on it which when ripe, splits open and releases a multitude of seeds. If you plant this plant you can expect it to reseed as it is not hardy here. I took seeds to class two weeks ago and one classmate, Lindsey, said her parents and all of their neighbors were going to plant the Jimsonweed along a rock wall lining the back of their properties. What a good idea to share them around! The Jimsonweed and Moonflower take the same conditions as the Angel Trumpets.

Another night fragrant plant is one many local farmers will recognize. It is Nicotiana sylvestis, aka Flowering Tobacco. The picture of the white tubular flower is Flowering Tobacco. This is a great plant and I grow it every year. It is not considered hardy here but mine usually come back from the roots with no problem. Flowering Tobacco is a Southern Heritage plant. Flowering Tobacco likes part shade and regular moisture. The seeds form in small shells on the flower stalks and there are literally millions of them because they are so tiny. They are very easy to germinate in the house. Just sprinkle them on a tray and I promise you, every single one will germinate. Then you can easily prick them apart and spread them around. They do not suffer from this.

The last flower which is night fragrant is Mirablilis jalapa, aka Four O'Clocks. I received my yellow ones at a Perennial Plant Society meeting three years ago and I can say I love them! It is hard to see them in the picture but if you look real close you will see a few yellow flowers open on the plants. They are also a Southern Heritage plant. Four O'Clocks spread very effectively though I would not say aggressively. Mine are in a front border and have spread to about a 6 x 6 area. I can easily pull the seedlings out in the spring if they go too far. Warning, if the plants get established they can be difficult to eradicate because of a tuber the plant forms. So plant them where they can spread a little and you will be rewarded with a solid mass of flowers and foliage that says looking good all season-even this season. Four O'Clocks are not picky about growing conditions and will take part shade and good soil. They come in other colors and I have seen some dark pink stands around town. My goal next year is to get some dark pink ones. Anyone want to share some seeds in exchange for yellow seeds? Just kidding, I found some already.

One last plant I need to mention is actually a shrub. It is Cestrum nocturnum, aka Night Blooming Jasmine. My friend Phil gave me a cutting of his in the middle of August last summer. I did not have much hope it would take but it amazingly did. This spring I planted it out in the garden and it is now about 3 x 3 and is in its second bloom. This plant's flower is not showy but the fragrance at night is said to be heavenly. The upright picture is a picture of this shrub. It needs full sun and is not picky about moisture. Phil has his planted under a bedroom window in a foundation garden. Mine has not gifted me with the fragrance as of yet, but after researching the plant I have found it may take more than one year for the fragrance to come out so be patient.

I did not get my Red Hots moved yesterday-maybe today. So I have to get in the garden....


  1. I enjoy the fragrances of my flowers and my favorite by far is the Confederate Jasmine. It gets compliments by everyone when in bloom. I only wish it bloomed year round!

    Lately we have been overcome with the smell of horse's. LOL our neighbor has taken her horses out of the pasture across the street and has them in the back yard. She is having a problem finding the special hay they need for their diets. This drought is affecting a lot of stuff this year. She has them in the back so she can keep them from eating the grass in the pasture. They have a condition where they cannot eat grass. Imagine that, a horse that is not allowed to eat grass! We are getting use to the fragrance of horse!

  2. You know I tried Confederate Jasmine but it died out for me. Too bad.

    I guess the fragrance of horses would take some getting used to! Did you ask them for some manure for your gardens? I asked my neighbor, the "Cow Farmer" for some manure. He thought it was funny and said we could go to where they are sometime. He REALLY thought it was funny.

    You are so right about the drought affecting everyone in odd ways. I hope the neighbors get the right kind of "grass" for their horses. What kind of condition could prevent them from eating grass??

  3. Believe it or not, one horse is on the verge of being a diabetic! Normal grass is too sweet for them. They cannot eat apples or carrots or any fun things we use to feed them! So they can only eat what is referred to as First Cutting grass, what ever that is.

    She has offered manure before and we do scoop for her at times when they are on vacation but I did not want to mess with the smelling stuff in my yard so I have declined thus far. I may put some on one or two of my planters this winter though....

  4. That is too bad about the horses being diabetic? I have no idea what a first cutting is either. I have heard manure buried about a foot underground works wonders for gardens. Especially for a coldframe in the winter. The decaying manure is supposed to heat the coldframe up enough to grow crops. I want to try it with lettuce but have never gotten around to it. Maybe you could try this so you don't have to smell it?

  5. Now, digging it under ground is a great idea. I would have a hard time putting horse poop on a crop that I am going to eat. LOL… ICK, Too gross in my book. But I know veggies and fruits are fertilized with that all the time and I eat it. But what I don’t know, don’t hurt me, right??? I may try it on the flowers this winter though...