Attracting pollinators at night
We are familiar with day-blooming flowers and day-visiting insects, bees, butterflies, flies and a few others. Such flowers are likely to produce more nectar at night; they also release aromas that the moths are well attuned to and that enable them to find the flowers
After dark, moths and bats take over the night shift for pollination. Nocturnal flowers with pale or white flowers with heavy fragrance and copious dilute nectar, attract these pollinating insects. Not all moth pollinators are nocturnal; some moths are also active by day.Nocturnal moths are well adapted to colder temperatures; they also have eyes that allow them to fly at night. Fortunately for them there are flowers that bloom at this time. Such flowers are likely to produce more nectar at night; they also release aromas that the moths are well attuned to and that enable them to find the flowers.
You may be lucky enough to have a night time pollinator visitor to your garden if you have moonflowers, evening primroses, Nicotiana or morning glories. It can be quite a treat to see hawk moths on a regular basis visiting your garden; some seem to have a fixed schedule and show up almost daily at their appointed time. They are large, fly silently and unfurl their straw-like tongues in front of long-tubed flowers like the ones mentioned. They look like hummingbirds drinking nectar while suspended in the air. They have handsome patterns on their wings, not as striking as those of butterflies, but very beautiful in a sedate way.
A couple of dawn or dusk pollinators that we are less familiar with is the squash bee; it’s an early riser, following the schedule of squash blossoms and finishing her daily chores just after dawn or at mid-morning when blossoms begin to wilt. They are said to be up before sunrise; however, I have never seen them so early. Maybe I should spend more time in the pumpkin patch and I may catch some of them.A truly nocturnal pollinators of a different stripe, bats. Most cactus bloom at night, they are strongly scented and produce big flowers with abundant nectar, just right for such large fliers. In the absence of bats, the landscapes of the West would be profoundly different, without the rich flora of saguaros, barrel cacti and prickly pears.
So what plants pollinate at night?
Heavy with fragrance, nocturnal bloomers produce a strong, sweet scent during twilight, night or early morning. Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), Madonna lily (Lilium candidum), night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), and some yucca species draw these pollinators to them. You can purchase moonflower seeds at our Etsy shop to help jump start your night garden & lure in beautiful moths. Follow the link to see: https://www.etsy.com/listing/947182415/moonflower-seeds-