Create A Magical Moon Garden In Your Backyard

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Silver foliage like that of dusty miller gives off a glowing hue at nighttime and adds to the moon garden as well as add beauty to daytime gardens. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter

Ever heard of moon gardening? LSU AgCenter Horticulturist Heather Kirk-Ballard recently did some digging into the subject.

Moonflower (Ipomea alba) is a tropical white morning-glory often planted in moon gardens. Photo provided by Christie Russell

Moon gardens are adored at night and Kirk-Ballard said it is defined by the type of plants they include. The garden includes plants with white or cool-colored flowers along with silver or variegated foliage that can be seen in the reflected light of the moon.

“Cool colors such as light blue, bright yellow, chartreuse and lavender in addition to white flowers and gray and silver foliage can be more easily seen at nighttime in the garden,” wrote Kirk-Ballard, “Moon gardens also can include flowers with heavy evening fragrance as well as light-colored hardscapes and accessories that enhance the garden at night.”

The Horticulturist looked into the science behind the garden. The human eyes have limited vision of colors and contrast in the dark except the color white stands out in the darkness and often gives off a glowing light. In addition, Kirk-Ballard’s research said our senses are naturally heightened after dark to the sights, smells and sounds of the night.

“By incorporating a variety of plants,” wrote Kirk-Ballard” You can enhance your gardens for night enjoyment.” She said to start with selecting plants with white or cool-colored flowers that show up best against a dark background. Then, incorporate a mix of plants with dark foliage to provide a backdrop.

Nocturnal pollinators come out in the evenings, visiting flowers and add to the ambiance of the moon garden. Photo provided by Amber King


She suggested the following plants: moonflower (ipomea alba), Serena White angelonia, Infinity White New Guinea impatiens, Japanese painted fern, Ghost painted fern (Athyrium niponicum pictum), Jack Frost brunerra (Brunnera microphylla), Silver Sceptre and Ice Dance Carex morrowii, Silver Carpet Stachys byzantinia, Silver Falls Dichondra argentea, Diamond Frost euphorbia, Lobelia siphilitica, four o’clocks and morning glories. Also, trees with white or light-colored bark such as river birch (Betula nigra) can show up at night and provide some height in the landscape.

Kirk-Ballard wrote that in addition to suitable plant selection, a moon garden can be enhanced by adding light-colored planters and white trellises or lattices that support climbing vines such as fragrant white jasmine. “Use light-colored gravel and walking stones for pathways and solar lights to help illuminate them,” she suggested.” You can also incorporate lanterns, soft string lights and candles. Choose a site in the landscape that is easily accessible and open for stargazing, allowing moonlight to illuminate the gardens.”

Another tip for an overall improved ambiance is to include elements that energize the senses. Water features that make soothing sounds and reflect moonlight can also be a nice enhancement. Another bonis is the natural habitat can attract night critters such as crickets and frogs which adds to the sound ambiance. “Sound also can be made by plants such as ornamental grasses or bamboo that gently rustle in the evening breeze… and do not forget fragrant plants,” Kirk-Ballard wrote.

“A moon garden can be enjoyed at any time of day, but they become especially magical at dusk and into the dark of the night. The sights and smells of these plants can continue to be enjoyed at night after the sun sets. The hot days of summer make it less appealing to be in the garden during the heat of the day, but nights are excellent for relaxing outdoors once the sun goes down,” said the Horticulturist.



White vinca is an excellent warm-season annual for moon gardens. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter