Summertime means evenings outdoors on the patio, a perfect time to enjoy strongly fragrant flowers.
Plant some near a patio or deck, next to a walkway or in a window box. No matter the location, the effect is the same: a heavenly experience for the senses.
Some flowers fragrant at night only open their blossoms after the sun starts to go down. Many of these evolved to be white in order to attract night-flying moths that feed on their nectar, explained Heather Stoven, a horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service. Others – no matter the color — release or increase their scent after hours seemingly just for human enjoyment.
Stoven recommends the following fragrant flowers:
Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia): A tall, bushy plant with huge, trumpet-shaped flowers up to 12 inches long in white, yellow, apricot, orange and pink. Some double forms are now on the market. Great for containers. Not recommended if you have children or pets, as it is poisonous.
Cottage pink (Dianthus plumarius): White, pink or rose flowers with darker centers have fringed petals and a spicy fragrance. Plant is low and mounded with gray-green foliage. Perfect at the front of a border or as a companion to roses.
Evening primrose (Oenothera): A tough perennial with showy, four-petaled flowers of white, pink or bright yellow that open in evening and give off a sweet aroma.
Four o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa): True to its name, this pretty plant has flowers that open in late afternoon and emit a vanilla scent. Blossoms come in white and cheerful shades of red, pink and yellow. Some are bi-colored.
Lily (Lilium): A large group of bulbs bearing trumpet-shaped flowers with an unmistakably sweet scent. A favorite of gardeners and floral arrangers alike. Plant in fall in the middle or back of a border or in a container.
Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius): A fast-growing shrub that gets up to 10 feet tall and is hardy down to Zone 2. The fragrance of the white flowers is similar to orange blossoms.
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba): A relative of the morning glory, climbing moonflower vines produce white, 4- to 6-inch flowers that unfurl after dark and give off a powerful scent. Will cover an arbor or trellis in no time.
Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata): A fragrant annual with a jasmine-like fragrance that’s more intense at night. It has pink, red and green flowers as well as white.
About Gardening News From the OSU Extension Service: The Extension Service provides a variety of gardening information on its website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/community/gardening. Resources include gardening tips, videos, podcasts, monthly calendars of outdoor chores, how-to publications, and information about the Master Gardener program.