The key to a gorgeous garden is having layers of depth and color. If your garden is deep enough, you can add smaller plants at the front to act as a border. Here are some border flowers to consider.
Groups of plants perfect for borders: You can choose border plants that have a distinct fragrance to them, such as sage, lavender, and thyme. You can also choose bold colors such as daylilies and zinnias. Always choose border plants that work with the color theme of your garden and have a height that won’t get lost or overwhelm the other plants.
15 Group Plants for Borders
A steady presence in most gardens for a reason, you really can’t go wrong with lavender. Not only does it look nice, but its deep purple colors provide a pop of fragrance that almost everyone loves.
When planting lavender as a border, you want to take care to prune it each year, or else the base will become woody. Once certain stems become woody, they won’t flower in this area, so prune every spring to ensure your lavender plants are as vibrant as possible.
If you have a garden that is full of color and are worried about adding too much contrast, picking a white flower, such as alyssum, is a safe way to go. This bright white plant is easy to care for and readily available at all garden centers.s
Alyssum doesn’t grow to be too tall, about 4 to 8 inches, so it is a great choice as a border if the plants behind it are not very tall.
Those that are worried about drought conditions will do well to consider ornamental grass as a border. There are many varieties you can choose from, with different colors and heights.
The spikiness of ornamental grass can be a nice contrast besides more delicate flowers but you do want to ensure the grass isn’t too tall as it can block out the rest of your plants.
It can be hard to find shade plants that are interesting and colorful but hostas will always do the trick. There are many varieties but classic hostas will have white edges on their leaves for a unique pattern.
With large, heart-shaped leaves, hostas do well in partial to full shade and don’t require much work. They can get pretty big, however, so keep this in mind when selecting other plants for the garden.
Ferns make for an excellent border plant if you live in a temperate climate and need plants to fill in a shady place. You can find many varieties of ferns but for borders, look for options that are smaller in size.
Ferns will add greenery throughout the year and there are also varieties that have a copper color to their leaves. Look for ferns that have unique leaf edges for more diversity in your garden.
Gardens that have plants that are small in size will do well with border plants that are as low to the ground as possible. Creeping thyme is used both as a ground cover and a border plant as it easily spreads out.
The bright pink or purple colors of creeping thyme add a lovely pop of color and when the blooms fade, you are left with a lush, green carpet. You also get the added benefit of a soft, herbal scent to your garden.
You can find phlox in different sizes but if you need a border that is lower to the ground, moss phlox is a nice choice. The perennial has flowers that bloom in the spring and you can find colors such as pink and purple.
Plant moss phlox, also known as creeping phlox, in areas that get full sun. An advantage of moss phlox is that it doesn’t have complex growing conditions and is fine with soil that is rocky.
When looking for a unique border plant, why not turn to Irish moss, which is incredibly versatile? Not only does it look good as a border plant, but you can also plant it along a walkway as it will easily fill in any gaps between stones.
Irish moss prefers moist soil and partial shade so it won’t do well in very hot, dry climates.
Another fragrant option for your garden border is sage. There are many different varieties and if you want a more unique look, consider tricolor sage, which has leaves in green, white, and purple.
The earthy smell of sage is lovely on a hot summer day and the plant is drought-tolerant. It likes full sun in warm climates but does better if there is partial shade in the afternoon if you live in a very hot climate.
The bright colors of daylilies will bring an instant smile to your face, especially in the summer when they are most abundant. When planting, leave plenty of space as daylilies will quickly grow outwards thanks to their underground tubers.
If you want to remove daylilies in the future, you will have to dig all the tubers out, which can be quite the operation. Furthermore, be prepared to thin them out over the years or they will take over the whole garden.
While most garden borders are perennial plants, you can still change things up and plant annuals if you want more options. Zinnias have vibrant colors of orange, yellow, and pink and the blooms last for quite a while.
You will have to plant the zinnias each spring but you can do so by seed as they are easy to grow. You can then replant them each year or have the option to plant new annuals if you like to keep things changing in your garden.
A unique plant that is a combination of a shrub and a flower, a lady’s mantle provides a soft green touch to your border. This plant will grow to be quite bushy, so be sure to space it out properly when planting.
The best place to plant a lady’s mantle is in full sun but if you live in a very hot climate, it will be happier if there is afternoon shade. However, if you can’t manage this, just be sure to water it extra.
Not to be confused with lavender, which looks similar, veronica has purple flowers but the stems are more individual than the clumping theme of lavender.
This border plant is great if you need a bit more height in the front as veronica can grow to be 3 feet tall. The leafy part of the plant will say closer to the ground and the blooms will grow upward in the summer.
Instead of adding more flowers to your garden, you can always try something different and go with a boxwood. These classic hedges don’t grow very high and are frequently used to line pathways.
You will need to prune your boxwoods each year if you want that crisp, clean look to them. However, they are very hardy and it is easy to figure out how to prune them.
While this border plant is gorgeous and classic, it only works if you place it in front of plants with a lot of height, such as a hedge. Hydrangeas will grow to be 6 feet tall, depending on the variety, although you may be able to find smaller plants.
You can find hydrangeas in a myriad of colors including blue, pink, purple, and white. The blooms last for a long time and are great for cut flowers.
While rhododendrons are not meant for smaller gardens, their bold personality and grand size are perfect if you have space for a larger border plant. These plants are available in smaller sizes, so look for these if you want to use them as a border.
You can find rhododendrons in all manner of colors and their bright blooms signal the end of winter and the beginning of a vibrant spring.
Importance of Border Plants
Planting border plants will bring your whole garden together. They not only provide a distinct edge to your garden but can tie in themes and colors with everything else you have planted.
Furthermore, border plants will take over the blank space in your garden. Not only does this look better than bare dirt but it will prevent soil erosion and weeds from growing.
How to choose the right border plants
Color and size are the two main considerations for border plants. Take a look at what else you are growing and either match the color of your border plants, provide some contrast or keep it neutral. If you really can’t decide on a color, opt for plants that either have no blooms or white blooms.
As for size, border plants shouldn’t block the plants that are behind them. However, they shouldn’t be so small that there is a major height difference from what you have already planted.
There are many groups of plants that do well as a border. If you want shorter options, try creeping thyme or Irish moss, and for larger options, try rhododendrons and hydrangeas.