Tropical nights are warm and filled with intoxicating fragrances. The perfume is intended to attract the bats and moths that pollinate those seductive species, but it also attracts the noses of gardeners. Here in North America we don't have to worry about bats and moths flying around our tropical patio plants — those pollinator relationships are usually species-specific and will only occur in a plant's native habitat. When creating the perfect moon garden, start with any number of white-flowered species (such as moonflower) and white-leafed species (like artemisia) to reflect the celestial light. Then consider a few of the rare plants that release their tropical potpourri in the after hours.
Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia spp.)
A frost tender shrub that can be overwintered in a pot indoors. During the growing season it is decked out with dangling trumpet-shaped flowers, 6 to 8 inches long and powerfully fragrant once the sun goes done.
Night-Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)
A tropical shrub with inconspicuous white flowers that put forth a mesmerizing scent at night. Botanically speaking, it is completely unrelated to the vine-like jasmines most temperate gardeners are familiar with, but it shares the name on account of a similarly sweet fragrance.
Nicotiana, also known as flowering tobacco
A tropical annual with deliciously fragrant blossoms. Thin and tubular, the flowers are faintly fragrant during the day, but they really turn up the volume on their aroma at night.