Gardening

Landscaping 101: Finding the Right Plants for Your Garden

Learn which plants and flowers are right for your garden

As summer approaches, homeowners are gearing up to take on those big outdoor projects they’ve had their eyes on, and for many, building or renovating their garden is a top priority.

While landscaping can be a satisfyingly sun-soaked physical endeavor, it’s not just a matter of elbow grease and ambition. Designing and building a garden also requires substantial planning, and that’s where many amateur landscapers get hung up.

Winging it is not an option for anyone whose project goes beyond filling out a few garden boxes. Before you start, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of what kind space you are working with, what kind of space you are hoping to create, what type of hardscaping and accessories your plan requires and what you can afford.

Once you have a space planned out and a budget set, you’ll need to know which plants and flowers in your region will provide a lush, lasting garden for years to come. Your local plant or hardware store may stock any number of native plants, but not all of them will survive or thrive in your the habitat you build, so it’s essential to know which plants and flowers are right for your home before you grab your spade.

The first step to picking plants and flowers will work for your home is knowing which plants and flowers are available in your region and which of those will complement your garden. To help, Estatenvy has put together the following primer on the five best starter plants and flowers for each region of the U.S.

Northeast

  • Swamp Milkweed. A medium-sized plant distinguished by its eye-popping pink flowers, which are known to attract monarch butterflies. Swamp Milkweeds require full sun but can grow in most any Northeast garden.
  • Carolina Lupine. A tall and tough plant with small yellow flowers that blossom in the spring. Carolina Lupine grows all along the Eastern seaboard and thrives in full sun.
  • Maidenhair Fern. A slow-growing non-invasive fern with a rich green color. Maidenhair Fern grows best in shade and moist soil.
  • Virgin’s Bower. A particularly hardy plant that blooms scented blue flowers in the midsummer and small, fuzzy seed heads in the fall. Virgin’s Bower can grow up to eight feet tall and requires full sun.
  • Wild Anemone. A delicate but hardy plant with stark white flowers. Wild Anemone can survive in most home gardens with just a little shade, sun and well-drained soil.

Southeast

  • Saw Palmetto. An extremely tough, low-growing plant with long, green, bladed leaves. Saw Palmetto can grow in nearly any condition but prefers full sun and dry soil.
  • Beautyberry. A leafy, green plant with pops of rich purple berries the attract pollinators in spring and birds in autumn. Beautyberry is easy to grow, thriving in both partial shade and full sun.
  • Sweetshrub. A low shrub with light green leaves and a wine red flower known for its sweet scent. Sweetshrub is easily propagated in partially shaded gardens with rich soil.
  • Crimsoneyed Rosemallow. A perennial hibiscus boasting a wide white flower with a violet center. Crimsoneyed Rosemallow grows best in wet soils near streams and ponds but is surprisingly adaptable and easy to maintain.
  • Southern Magnolia. A large tree with deep green leaves and beautiful white flowers. Southern Magnolia is native throughout the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.

Midwest

  • Shrub Roses. A low-maintenance and versatile shrub with a variety of colorful roses. Shrub Roses have long flowering seasons and do best in partial shade and well-drained soil.
  • Butterfly Bush. A fruity-scented bush with flower stalks that attract butterflies and hummingbirds in the summer. Butterfly Bush will die down in hard Midwestern winters but will reemerge each spring.
  • Rose of Sharon. A durable, long-blooming plant with lavender flowers. Rose of Sharon grows up to 12 feet tall and enjoys high heat. It grows best in direct sun.
  • Hydrangea. A popular shrub in Midwestern gardens, Hydrangea are easily tended and offer clusters of color that persist late into the fall. Most hydrangea three in full sun to light shade.
  • Witch Hazel. An autumn, winter and early spring-blooming shrub with long, winding flowers. Some variety of Witch Hazel can grow up to 18 feet tall, some as low as four feet. Most variety from best in partial shade.

South

  • Helen’s Flower. A Southern staple that come shades of gold, red and orange. Helen’s Flower blooms in the fall and prefers full sun and moist soil.
  • Hardy Hibiscus. A tough Hibiscus hybrid that boasts large flowers that transition from red to pink to white throughout the late summer and early fall. Hardy Hibiscus loves water and can grow in marshy conditions, but it grows best in full sun.
  • Stokes’ Aster. A durable perennial with a long bloom season. Stokes’ Aster’s blue flowers bloom continuously throughout the summer and fall. It grows best in full sun and moist soil.
  • Indian Pink. A short-growing perennial with vivid red, cone-shaped flowers that attract hummingbirds. Indian Pink grows best in partial shade and moist but well-drained soil.
  • Crested Iris. A small, one-foot plant with delicate blue, white or purple flowers that bloom in mid-spring. Crested Pink grows best in shady gardens with moist soil.

Southwest

  • Perry’s Agave. A staple of Southwestern gardens, Perry’s Agave is a medium-sized agave that comes in a variety of shapes and colors. Perry’s Agave can survive colder temperatures than most other varieties of agave and grows best in full sun or partial shade.
  • Firecracker Penstemon. An orange and red spiked penstemon whose winter- and spring-blooming flowers attract hummingbirds sustain hummingbirds throughout the winter, when other plants have not yet bloomed. Firecracker Penstemon is durable to cold winters as well as hot summers and grows best in full sun or partial shade with well-drained soil.
  • Red Yucca. A durable and low-maintenance staple of desert gardens. Red Yucca has grass-like stems and red flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. It can withstand hot summers and cold winters and grows best in full sun.
  • Damianita. A drought-tolerant, low-growing plant with long green stems and delicate yellow flowers. Damianita grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Ocotillo. A tall-growing cactus-like plant with long, spikey, brown-green stems supporting red flowers at their tips. Ocotillo is drought resistant and grows best in full sun.

Pacific Northwest

  • Blanket Flower. A long-blooming perennial with red and yellow flowers that die quickly but reseed and propagate for years. Blanket Flower grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Goatsbeard. A tall-growing, leafy-green plant with tall white plumes that bloom in the early summer. Goatsbeard grows best in sun or shade and well-drained soil.
  • Blue Columbine. A spring-blooming perennial whose purple flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Blue Columbine grows best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
  • Alpine Strawberry. A gorgeous groundcover plant with bright red, edible strawberries and white flowers. Alpine Strawberry grows best in partial shade and noise soil.
  • Lewisia. A wildflower with pink, red and white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. Lewis grows best in full sun and can thrive in well-drained soil or rock gardens.