Achromatic white is colorless and is often referred to as a non-color. A symbol of peace and purity, you can use it in the garden as an accent. Alternatively, you can plant an entire garden with white flowering plants, creating a magical mix of greens and beautiful white and off-white hues.
There is a myriad of white flowering plants, the choice is yours. But for starters, consider 5 of the best white flowers that grow in the world-famous White Garden at Sissinghurst in Kent. They include roses, lilies, peonies, pansies, and auriculas. Of course, there are many more white flowers in this garden and in countless other white gardens.
10 Best White Flowering Plants You Can Grow
When Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson began planning the White Garden at Sissinghurst in the early 1950s, they decided that only plants that were white, green, gray, and silver colors would be allowed to grow. Nicolson created the structure with box and yew hedging so that the white flowers and contrasting silver foliage would shine against the dark green background.
We have chosen 10 beautiful white flowering plants that still grow in the gardens of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England. Open to the public, this amazing garden is an inspiration.
The hyacinth is a hardy perennial bulb with narrow, strap-shaped leaves and fragrant, funnel-shaped, spring flowers that grow on a stiff, upright stem. There are a variety of cultivars and a wide range of colors from purple and red to pink and, of course, white.
A favorite is the Top White Hyacinth, Hyacinthus orientalis, also known as the Dutch hyacinth. It thrives in well-drained soils in partial shade or full sun and is easy to grow.
Planted in the fall, its stems grow 6-10 inches tall and flower for about 3 weeks in mid-spring.
Spring-flowering yellow daffodils are iconic flowers that are native to Eastern Europe. Made famous centuries ago by Romantic English Poet, William Wordsworth, they live on with his description of “a host of golden daffodils.”
But not all daffodils are yellow. There are many different cultivars in a range of pastel and intense colors, including orange, pink, and white. Some have bright yellow centers, while others don’t.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Horticulture Division of Extension, the first white roses date back to the 17th century. This was when breeders developed them for enthusiastic home gardeners.
Roses are one of the most popular flowers worldwide. They are beautiful and fragrant, and available in different forms and colors.
When Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson bought the ramshackle Sissinghurst property in 1930, there was no garden. For half a century, cottagers and unemployed former farm laborers dumped their rubbish creating a frightful slum.
It took the couple 3 years to clear the rubbish with the help of casual labor. Amazingly, the only garden plant they found surviving was a rose!
And, according to the book, The Romantic English Garden published by Victoria’s Secret, it still grows among the apple trees at Sissinghurst. But now there are many more roses both in the Rose Garden that Vita established and her famous White Garden.
For us, there is a huge choice when it comes to planting roses. Vita’s favorites were old shrub roses, but there are also hybrid teas, floribunda, and Grandiflora roses. And all have white flowering types.
According to the American Rose Society, which evaluates old and new varieties, shrubs and species of roses need little or no pest control. Once they are established they grow and flower for many years with very little attention. Some with no care, as the Sissinghurst roses, prove.
There are many white lilies you can grow in your garden, but the lily that Vita chose for Sissinghurst was Lilium regale, a Chinese lily. It’s probably the easiest white lily to grow, and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has given it the Award of Garden Merit.
Lilium regale is resistant to common garden pests and diseases and it grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3-8. They like fertile, well-drained soil that is acidic to neutral, and do best in a sunny spot that gets some afternoon shade.
They have lovely trumpet-shaped blooms with yellow centers that are anything between 3-6 inches long. The plant itself grows to be 3-4 feet tall.
Another fabulous white lily to grow is the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) which is native to Japan. They are popular cut flowers and grow well in containers.
Peonies are beautiful flowering perennials that have different forms including single and double types. There are 32 species of wild peonies that are native to the Mediterranean and eastern Asia regions, and just two species that are endemic to western North America.
The American Peony Society recognizes 6 flower forms. These are available in many different colors including yellow and coral. But traditional herbaceous peonies only come in four colors: white, blush, pink, and red.
Pansies are pretty little flowers that are very easy to grow. Originally bred in Europe in the mid-19th century, they are bedding plants grown as annuals for fall and winter blooms.
According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, the 1888 mail order catalog described the pansy as the most popular plant grown from seed in the U.S.
Today, they have one of the biggest color ranges of all garden annuals, so it’s no surprise to discover there are white pansies. But, of course, there were already white pansies in the 1950s when Vita Sackville-West created her famous White Garden.
White Auricula & Primrose
Auriculas, described as the alpine cousins of wild primroses, are thought to have been cultivated for 500 years or more. They thrive in moist, well-drained soil but don’t like acidity.
They were one of Vita Sackville-West’s favorite perennial plants with white flowers, but aren’t that easy to find anymore. The good news is that if you can’t find seeds or transplants at your local garden center, you can buy seeds via the American Primrose Society’s seed exchange program.
A winter annual that has long stems that grow up to 20 inches tall, white primroses boast 4 showy, heart-shaped leaves.
White Tobacco Plant
The white tobacco plant, Nicotiana sylvestris, is one of the prettiest white flowering perennials you can choose for your garden. It’s great for borders and can be mixed with other colors in traditional cottage gardens.
White tobacco plants do best when planted in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. They have quite unusual tubular white flowers that have a lovely strong smell.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Horticulture Division of Extension points out that in Victorian gardens it was often planted along paths and walkways. It is another plant that has won the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Dianthus, better known as pinks, include a wide range of flowering plants including annuals, biennials, and evergreen white perennials. Some have gray-green foliage, which works particularly well in an all-white garden.
One of the stand-out white dianthus plants is Memories, which has double, white blooms that have a deliciously fruity smell.
Foxgloves are biennial or short-lived perennials that add special magic to gardens with their spires of tubular, pendant-like flowers. The white-flowered foxglove (Digitalis purpurea foxglove albiflora) has creamy-white flowers that are more than 2 inches long.
Hardy in USDA zones 3-9, foxgloves bloom for 2-3 months, usually from late spring until early summer.
What plant has the prettiest white flower?
This is a difficult question to answer because it is so objective. My favorite is sweet-smelling jasmine, but many people adore roses.
Other beauties include lilies, orchids, and tulips. White water lilies are also gorgeous.
What white flowers bloom in summer?
Sweet-smelling jasmine is a summer favorite, as are roses and oriental lilies. Phlox and white echinacea are also great flowers to plant for a summer show.
The perennial evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) produces small clusters of white flowers that appear in spring and keep flowering until the fall. It is one of those pretty white flowering shrubs that keep its shiny dark green leaves through winter.
Hydrangea paniculata, white dahlias, Japanese anemone, and white chrysanthemums are other great options.
For something completely different, sea holly (Eryngium) has spiky blue-gray leaves that are streaked with silver and conical silver-green flowers.
What white flowers bloom in spring?
There are many white flowers that bloom in spring including hyacinths and daffodils that we have already mentioned. Some bloom early in the season while others start blooming in late spring and continue through the summer months.
Tiny snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are one of many that bloom early in spring. Another is the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) which is one of the earliest flowering trees.
White tulips bloom late in the spring as do fabulous white azaleas, white peonies, and a host of other white flowering plants.
Whether you decide to plant flowering shrubs, annuals, flowering perennials, or trees, there is a huge choice when it comes to plants that have beautiful white flowers.
We have based our selection on some of the flowers chosen by the legendary Sackville-West whose White Garden at Sissinghurst is a tourist attraction in England. But let this be a taste for you. There are so many more options, the world really is your oyster!