There's nothing as dreamy as walking through a garden in the evening and experiencing the ethereal glow of plants in the moonlight. It all seems like a fairy tale, but it doesn't have to be. Creating a moon garden is all about selecting the right plants within a silver and white color palette. Jerry Gorchels, regional manager for PanAmerican Seed, shares his expert tips on creating a moon garden.
What Is a Moon Garden?
A moon garden is a garden with primarily white or silver plants meant to be enjoyed by the light of the moon. "Flowers at twilight or in moonlight reflect light differently during these hours than they do in the daytime," explains Gorchels. "This gives you a whole new way to experience and enjoy your garden!" Technically, you can enjoy any plants by moonlight, but with a bit of planning, you can select plants that will reflect the moon's light and give you a great glow at night. "Over the past year, we have been making our homes a proper oasis," says Gorchels. "They are a place we need to feel calm, relaxed, or offer us a new distraction." A moon garden helps extend hours of enjoyment and entertainment outdoors.
How to Create a Moon Garden
As with any garden, you should consider soil type and the amount of sun exposure when choosing plants. Once you know what varieties will thrive in your space, you can do the fun part—picking plants. "Choose flowers or foliage-only plants that will reflect the most moonlight or low light," says Gorchels. "White to silver color families work best." Gorchels suggests using big bloomers like snowball hydrangeas and white lilies to anchor your moon garden. Also, keep in mind when the plants are in bloom. Use early spring bloomers such as tulips, creeping phlox, roses, and snow drops. As the season progress, drop in new summer bloomers to replace tired and exhausted plants such as Shasta daisies, Queen Anne's lace, sweet alyssum, climbing hydrangeas, and calla lilies.
As fall approaches, keep the color going with white chrysanthemums and white pansies. Don't forget to team up white flowers with silvery foliage. Good choices for silvery foliage plants are lambs ears, dusty miller, silver sage, and Russian sage. You can add more texture and interest with variegated plants, such as hosta fortunei 'albomarginata.'
"Another aspect of the moon garden are flowers that become more fragrant in the evening," says Gorchels. Some pretty and fragrant bloomers include white and silver petunias and white dianthus. For a flowerbed border, there is nothing more fragrant than white alyssum. Another bonus is that these fragrant flowers attract moths and other pollinators to your moon garden.
Enjoying a Moon Garden
The best time to enjoy a moon garden is at night, of course. "One of my favorite entertaining events is having friends over on a full moon night and enjoying the garden," says Gorchels. Some white flowers, like osteospermum (African daisies), hide their blooms until the late-morning sun wakes them up, so you won't be able to view them opened up at night. This means you won't be able to get full enjoyment at night, but they still add beauty to your moon garden. Take your time and breathe in all the fragrance around you. "Invite guests over specifically to show off your moonlit plants," says Gorchels. "You may even see luna moths or other nighttime creatures visiting your flowers, too."
The Best Plants for a Moon Garden
These showy blooms will help anchor your moon garden as they put off large round clusters of snow-white blooms.
Zones: 3 to 9
With soft, silvery green leaves, lambs ear is a foliage plant that will reflect the moonlight glow. Plant in full sun to partial shade.
Zones: 4 to 8
Queen Anne's Lace
When planted in full sun or partial shade, Queen Anne's lace will thrive with even infrequent water. The delicate white petals will catch the faint light at dusk.
Zones: 3 to 9
An excellent border plant, sweet alyssum is a low-growing variety named after its intoxicating fragrance. Look out for the variety called "Easter bonnet," which has bright white blooms.
Zones: 5 to 9
Any variety of white roses will fit in well with the color palette of a moon garden. Keep an eye out for rosa 'iceberg,' a white floribunda rose with romantic blossoms that will continue re-blooming throughout the summer.
Zones: 5 to 9