Nighttime Herbs: Growing Herbs For Night Gardens

Purple Nighttime Herbs
night herb
(Image credit: Natasha Wolf)

Have you ever dreamed of taking a moonlit walk through a fragrant garden filled with nighttime herbs? Let's face it. Most of us are too busy during the day to really enjoy the outdoor space we work so hard to create. However, a nighttime herb garden provides the perfect after-hours escape from the pressures of everyday life. Sound interesting?

What is a Nighttime Herb Garden?

A nighttime herb garden is designed to capture the moonlight and enhance the aroma of night-blooming plants. Sometimes called a moon garden, but made strictly with herbs, these unique backyard areas are intended for use during the evening hours, especially on moonlit nights.

These gardens were a favorite of the nobility during the Victorian era. In order to distinguish themselves from the suntanned working class, the wealthy strived to maintain a pale complexion. Moon gardens provided nobles the opportunity to enjoy the aromatic nighttime herbs without exposure to the sun.

Moon Garden Herb Plants

It's not difficult to select flowering plants and scented herbs for night gardens. Many moon garden herb plants are chosen for their silvery foliage or white blossoms. These colors are best for capturing and reflecting the moonlight. Others are chosen for their aromatic fragrance. Popular nighttime herbs for moon gardens include these culinary and medicinal favorites:

  • Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum): For moon gardens, choose a white blossomed variety of giant hyssop like 'Alabaster' with its anise-scented foliage or 'Mexicana' when a lemony fragrance is preferred.
  • White coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): Plant white petaled varieties of coneflowers to pull double duty in perennial beds. Coneflowers are perfect for attracting butterflies by day, while varieties like 'White Swan' or 'Strawberry and Cream' capture the light of the moon.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): With its classic, pale gray foliage and sweet scent, lavender is one of the traditional nighttime herbs for moon gardens. Consider a white blossomed variety like 'Nana Alba' or 'Edelweiss.'
  • Culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis): The grayish-green pebbled foliage of classic varieties isn’t the only culinary sage which can be used as herbs for night gardens. Consider adding 'Tricolor' with its variegated white edged leaves or the white blossomed 'Alba.'
  • Silver Queen (Artemisia ludoviciana) From a genus infamous for producing high-quality silver foliage, Silver Queen is one of the most idyllic moon garden herb plants.
  • Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina): Once used for bandaging wounds, the soft gray leaves of woolly lamb's ear are edible. Flower color ranges from pink to purple but can be pruned to promote visibility of the foliage.
  • Woolly thyme (Thymus psuedolanginosus): The white-haired leaves of this edible groundcover are a welcome addition to the silver garden. Sturdy enough for foot traffic, plant woolly thyme between flagstones or around other perennials.
Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.