Lady of the Night

Brunfelsias are evergreen shrubs from tropical America. There are about 30 species, all with tubular flowers which change colour over successive days. The most popular species in Australian gardens is Brunfelsia pauciflora, commonly called Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. It has violet flowers fading to mauve and then white.

Peter Valder looked at B. americana, a species noted for its night fragrance and white flowers fading to pale butterscotch yellow.

Plant details

Common name: Lady of the Night

Botanic name: Brunfelsia americana

Description: A West Indian native shrub to about 2-4m (6-12′) tall. From summer to early autumn it produces white flowers with light purple centres, which turn cream then gold as they age. The flowers are wonderfully fragrant, and the scent becomes stronger at night.

Best climate: Lady of the Night grows well in warm, frost-free coastal areas.

Best look:

perfumed gardens tropical gardens hedge/screen pots

Good points:

wonderful perfume, especially at night masses of attractive flowers, turning from white to cream then yellow as they age bushy, evergreen foliage


The berries on brunfelsias have been known to poison dogs.


Brunfelsias need a warm, sunny position with protection from frost. They like rich, well-drained soil and adequate water during summer. Tip prune after flowering to keep the plant bushy.

Getting started:

B. americana may be difficult to find in nurseries, but if you know somebody who has a plant, you could try propagating it from tip cuttings in summer. Plants will be available from June/July by mail order from:

Paradise Distributors
27a Bonney Street
Nambour, QLD, 4560.
Phone: (07) 5441 5921
Website: http//
Cost: $6.90 each (super grow tube size), plus postage.
Postage rates per order (for any number of plants): QLD – $5.90, NSW – $6.90, VIC – $7.90, other states – $8.90.