How to Design a Magical Moon Garden Full of Night-Blooming Flowers and Silver Foliage

These ethereal gardens invite you to wander come nightfall.

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We tend to think of gardens as something to enjoy in the bright light of day. Moon gardens, however, invite us to stand in awe of nature's beauty once the sun has set. These enchanting spaces are filled with buds that reflect the glow of the moon; silver-and-white foliage twinkle under the stars as fragrant night-blooming blossoms break open, revealing a scent that can only be experienced from twilight to dawn. Intrigued? Here's how to create your own moon garden—and make it as magical as possible. 

What Is a Moon Garden?

One of the most intriguing parts of a moon garden? You may not even realize you're in the midst of one until dusk. In broad daylight, you're surrounded by vibrant greens and pale flowers, but this secret garden transforms into an ethereal oasis at night as the moonlight reflects on certain varieties and invites others to finally bloom. 

"A carefully curated moon garden will be primarily designed in a calming color palette of white flowers, silver foliage, and variegated plants that stand out once the sun sets," says Margaret Fleming, lead floral designer for Damselfly Global at Chelsea Market in New York City. "These hues are typically balanced against a backdrop of lush trees, grasses, and shrubs to enhance the natural beauty of the space." 

They're also often stocked with fragrant blossoms that further enhance the ethereal ambiance, Fleming says. Their sweet nectar attract nighttime pollinators, like fluttering, paper-y moths and bats. 

Moon Garden Flowers and Plants

Silver-and-white florals and foliage are moon garden mainstays that lend a glow come evening. There are numerous plants that will help you achieve this dreamy look. Whether you're working with a small patio or a larger space, here are some of our favorites. 

Night-Blooming Flowers 

One of the most magical aspects of a moon garden is the fact that it features blossoms that truly shine at night. That said, night-blooming flowers are a must for your moon garden, says Jessica Damiano, a gardening consultant. 

  • Moonflower: Moonflower is an annual that blooms late in the day and remains open until sunrise; it also gives off a subtle lemon scent. 
  • Four O' Clock Alba: Similar to the moonflower, a Four O' Clock Alba is aptly named, since it blooms in the late afternoon. "This airy, bushy, fragrant flowering plant will add a hint of romance to your gardenscape," says Fleming. 
  • Angel's Trumpet: Available in pink, yellow, and white, Angel's Trumpet has large, drooping bell-like blossoms. They're richly fragrant and attract many night pollinators. 
  • Evening Primrose: While yellow primrose blossoms in the daylight, the white evening primrose shows its face only to the moon. 

White-and-Silver Plants

White and silver plants tend to reflect moonlight more easily, so incorporate these beauties into your moon garden, as well. The following are great picks: 

  • Dichondra: This plant gives off a silvery hue and grows easily in containers or pots. It has the potential to grow up to 3 feet or taller, which can add height to your garden. 
  • White Roses: "White roses, and an assortment of other white perennials, will always be the perfect summer accents, as they reflect light differently at different times of day," says Fleming. 
  • Limelight Hydrangea: This bountiful shrub quickly fills space in your garden and lends the most beautiful, fluffy flower clusters.
  • White Alyssum: Fleming says this is a beautiful, fragrant option that can blanket your garden bed. It also thrives in a container or bordered area. 
  • Lamb's Ear: "When it comes to silver foliage plants, you'll want to incorporate low-maintenance plants like lambs' ear, such as the large leaf Helen von Stein variety," Fleming says. "Its soft texture further enhances a calming environment."
  • Dusty Miller: This plant also has a soft texture, and its foliage takes on the appearance of an oversize snowflake. 
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Ornamental Grasses 

"Incorporating ornamental grasses, such as blue oat grass or fountain grass, is a unique way to build a perimeter and add dimension around your garden," says Fleming. "As the summer goes on, many grasses will begin to fade to a gray or light color, which will reflect beautifully in the moonlight." 

Variegated Plants

To infuse more depth and dimension into your moon garden, opt for variegated plants. The hosta "Night Before Christmas" has broad, elegant leaves with soft stripes down the center that catch the moonlight. Silver mound artemisia is another good option, as are silver edge pachysandra and ivory halo dogwood, adds Damiano.

Highly Fragrant Plants

"Even when it's too dark to see clearly, our other senses can still be delighted, so include plants with strong fragrances like gardenias, summersweet, and mock orange," says Damiano. Additional options include honeysuckle, jasmine, hyacinth, wisteria, freesia, and magnolia.

Blue-Toned Plants

A hint of cool blue or purple blends brilliantly among a sea of white-and-silver plants. "The Colorado spruce, as well as blue star juniper, can give off a silvery blue glow in the moonlight while adding texture and dimension to the garden," Fleming says. "Another beautiful fragrant option that can be added is French lavender."

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Tips for Making Your Moon Garden More Magical 

If you're able to weave in an assortment of the plants mentioned above, you're well on your way to a sublime moon garden. Feel free to add some extra touches to make the space even more magical. 

  • Sounds: "The sounds of trickling water features and wind chimes impart a peaceful calm, which is ideal for relaxing at the end of the day," says Damiano.
  • Paths: Pathways encourage you to walk through your moon garden, so you can take in its beauty. 
  • Seating: "Adding a seating area is another perfect way to enjoy your time outside, whether it's a quiet bench, romantic bistro table for two, or the perfect long teak table for that midsummer dinner party," says Fleming.
  • Light: If you'd like just a touch more light, add a few solar lights, lanterns, or candles throughout your moon garden. These work well along pathways or in areas that you want to illuminate or emphasize come nightfall. 

Caring for Your Moon Garden 

Naturally, your moon garden's day-to-day care and watering schedule depends on which plants you've, as well as your geographic location. One key care tip, however, is to deadhead blossoms to prevent plants from going to seed. "In doing so, you'll help the plant conserve its energy and focus on subsequent blooms," Fleming says.

Pruning large shrubs and trees is another way to help ensure all your plants receive enough sun and help them shine in the moonlight without any obstructions.

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