Even if they are planted in the garden or in a container, at the first glance the plants seem not to move an inch. But all of us know that if we fast forward a motion picture focused on a flower, we would see it moves after the sun. There are also flowers that bloom in the absence of the sun and their beautiful flowers have a very short life.
The plants move quite a lot but also behave very differently than we might expect. Most of the petals remain open until they wither and fall but a selected group of plants close their flower petals over night. Why do they do that? Well…this is part of the mystery ruling the plant world.
Day flowers like the roses, tulips and daffodils, once in bloom, keep their flowers open. The day flowers are focused on attracting pollinators during daylight and because during the night those pollinators sleep, they do not feel the need to close.
However, species like morning glory, the African daisy and the lilies close their petals when night comes. According to scientists they do this to protect themselves from night predators that do not help pollination.
Plants burn a lot of energy to produce flowers and encourage pollinating so closing their petals to stay away from potential risk is the result of adaptation.
The shape, the color, the scent and the nectar of a flower is specially designed to attract a special type of pollinator. More exactly, the pollination is the only reason for which the flowers exist. This is why the plants depending on the Colibri hummingbird produce sweet and succulent nectar, while those depending on bees create amazingly colored flowers.
The night flowers adapted to their night pollinators by opening exclusively at night. The bats and the night moths are the main night pollinators.
This is why the plants depending on them adapted to produce lightly colored flowers and to spread a strong scent.
For example in the Sonoran desert the cactuses produce immense flowers which open only during night because the birds and the bats feeding from these flowers are sleeping during the hot days.
The Night Queen, the tuberoses and the gardenia are part of the garden flowers that open during night. They have a strong scent and beautiful flowers; and they are treasured by gardeners especially because they enchant the night air.