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Moon Garden Magic: Attract Nighttime Pollinators with These Tips

Moongate covered in moonflowers with bats over a crescent moon.

Creating a moon garden is a delightful way to enjoy your garden after the sun sets and to support nocturnal pollinators. By planting fragrant white flowers and creating a welcoming habitat for bats, you can transform your garden into a serene, moonlit haven buzzing with life. Here’s how to get started.

Choosing the Right Plants

The first step in creating a moon garden is selecting plants that thrive at night and attract nighttime pollinators. Here are some top choices:

Open moonflower
Ipomoea alba

1. Moonflower (Ipomoea alba):As its name suggests, the moonflower is perfect for a moon garden. Its large, white, trumpet-shaped blooms open in the evening and release a sweet fragrance that attracts moths. These fast-growing vines can cover trellises, fences, or arbors, creating a beautiful and aromatic display.

2. Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa):These charming flowers open in the late afternoon and remain open through the night, emitting a pleasant scent. They come in various colors, but white varieties are ideal for a moon garden. Four o’clocks are easy to grow and can reseed themselves year after year.

3. Jasmine (Jasminum spp.):Jasmine plants are well-known for their intoxicating fragrance. Night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) is especially suited for a moon garden, releasing its scent after dusk. This shrub can be planted near seating areas to fully enjoy its delightful aroma.

Additional Plants for a Moon Garden

1. Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis):Evening primrose blooms open at dusk and emit a sweet fragrance that attracts moths and other night pollinators. Its bright yellow flowers can add a pop of color to your moon garden.

2. Night Phlox (Zaluzianskya capensis):Also known as midnight candy, night phlox has white and purple flowers that open in the evening and release a delicious vanilla scent. This low-growing plant can be used to edge pathways or fill in garden beds.

3. Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia spp.):Angel’s trumpet produces large, pendulous flowers that emit a strong fragrance in the evening. These shrubs or small trees can be grown in containers or directly in the ground, providing a dramatic focal point in your moon garden.

4. Datura (Datura spp.):Datura, also known as moonflower or devil’s trumpet, has large, white or purple trumpet-shaped flowers that open at night and have a heady fragrance. It is important to note that all parts of the datura plant are toxic, so it should be planted with caution.

5. Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa):Tuberose is renowned for its intensely fragrant white flowers that bloom at night. These tall, spike-like plants are perfect for adding height and scent to your moon garden.

6. Hosta (Hosta spp.):While primarily known for their foliage, many hosta varieties produce fragrant white or pale lavender flowers that bloom in the evening. Hostas thrive in shady areas and can add lush greenery to your moon garden.

7. Yucca (Yucca filamentosa):Yucca plants produce tall spikes of white, bell-shaped flowers that open at night and attract moths. Their unique, spiky foliage can also add an interesting texture to your garden.

8. White Nicotiana (Nicotiana alata):White flowering tobacco, or nicotiana, has tubular, white flowers that open in the evening and emit a sweet scent. These annuals can be planted in garden beds or containers.

9. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima):While not strictly a night bloomer, sweet alyssum produces clusters of tiny, white flowers that emit a honey-like fragrance all day and into the night. This groundcover can be used to fill gaps and provide continuous scent.

10. Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina):Lamb’s ears are grown for their soft, silvery foliage that reflects moonlight beautifully. While not particularly fragrant, they add a tactile and visual element to your moon garden.

Flying bats at dusk
Nighttime Pollinators

Incorporating Bats into Your Moon Garden

Bats play a crucial role in the ecosystem as pollinators, pest controllers, and seed dispersers. By encouraging bats to visit your moon garden, you not only help these fascinating mammals but also enhance your garden’s health. Here’s how you can make your garden bat-friendly:

1. Install a Bat Box: A bat box provides a safe roosting place for bats during the day. These boxes mimic natural roosts such as tree cavities and are essential for attracting bats to your garden. When installing a bat box, choose a location that receives ample sunlight during the day and is at least 15 feet off the ground. This ensures that the box stays warm and safe from predators. Grab the Big Bat Box I use here.

2. Provide Water Sources: Bats need water to drink, especially after a night of foraging. A birdbath, small pond, or water feature can serve as a hydration station for bats. Ensure that the water source is kept clean to attract these flying mammals.

3. Plant Night-Blooming Flowers: In addition to the fragrant flowers mentioned earlier, include other night-blooming plants like evening primrose and night phlox. These flowers not only attract moths but also draw bats that feed on them.

4. Reduce Pesticide Use: Pesticides can harm bats and other beneficial insects. By reducing or eliminating pesticide use, you create a safer environment for bats and other pollinators. Opt for organic gardening practices and natural pest control methods.

Creating a Serene Moonlit Ambiance

To fully enjoy your moon garden, consider adding elements that enhance its nighttime beauty and tranquility:

1. Soft Lighting: Use solar-powered or low-voltage lights to highlight pathways and plants. Soft, white lights can create a magical glow without overwhelming the natural beauty of the moonlight.

2. Comfortable Seating: Place a bench or a few comfortable chairs in your moon garden. This will allow you to sit back and enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of your nighttime oasis.

3. Reflective Surfaces: Incorporate reflective surfaces like mirrors, white pebbles, or light-colored garden ornaments to enhance the moonlight and create a shimmering effect in your garden. I personally like the charm of a disco ball.

Creating a moon garden is a rewarding way to enjoy your outdoor space in the evening while supporting nocturnal pollinators like bats and moths. By planting fragrant white flowers and providing a bat-friendly environment, you can create a magical, moonlit sanctuary that comes alive after dark. So start planning your moon garden today and experience the enchantment of a garden that glows and thrives under the night sky.

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