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Why these flowers only bloom at night

Friday, July 17th 2020, 1:56 pm - Mother Nature is always doing interesting things. Like night-blooming flowers. This is why these late-bloomers are just getting ready to go out when their garden-mates are calling it a night.

Introducing, the cool flowers on the block. When most flowers go to sleep, there is a wild pack who put on their best look, smell their most fragrant, and open up for the night. For example, evening primroses (Oenothera).

Though some of us may be more familiar with Primrose from "The Hunger Games", some species of primroses are actually nocturnal and bloom when the dark side of nature's hunger games begins. When the sun goes down, evening flowers open to cater to their specific pollinators, moths.

When moths aren't causing havoc in your closet, they're doing really cool things in nature. Similar to kids, as soon as dinner is on the table, moths appear as if from nowhere. As soon as their pollination flowers open, moths appear almost immediately. And unlike day pollinators, the process happens quickly, so it's really interesting to watch.

Courtesy: By Gokul Spoorthy Courtesy of Gokul Spoorthy

Aside from evening primroses, other examples of night-blooming flowers are flowering tobacco (Nicotiana) and 4-o’clocks (Mirabilis). When these flowers bloom at night, their fragrance and nectar, that are held in floral tubes, are released. Moths use their "elongated sucking mouthpart" (shivers), known as proboscis, to access this sweet sweet nectar.

These moths are not only important in the pollination of the flowers, but they are also important food for birds. In true circle of life fashion, moths give birth to moth caterpillars and moth caterpillars give life to baby and adult birds. One wee nest of fledglings can consume up to hundreds of moth caterpillars. So planting these evening flowers can provide sustenance to your local ecosystem.

There are a large variety of flowers to choose from, so if you're interested in planting yourself a show to go with your dinner, consider your environment and select accordingly. For example, Nicotiana alata and N. sylvestris (varieties of flowering tobacco), are great for planting in containers on decks or patios. Moths love these flowers, even though their leaves don't smell so hot.

Another great option is the four o’clock or marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa). These exotic-looking guys are colourful, can even be bi-coloured, have long floral tubes, and are perfect for a drought-resistant garden.

Since we are spending a lot more time at home, and redefining our hobbies, planting an evening garden could be a fun activity. And similar to the awesome, green-thumbed, Ron Folk, who sent in his awesome evening flower timelapse (watch above), your blooming garden can be featured too!

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