The 6 Best Flowers to Line Your Border Garden
Planting flower borders can be a challenge, especially when you have to determine which varieties work best in this area of your garden. With so many options to choose from, you might start to wonder if having a border garden is necessary altogether, or whether you should simply fill in the space with plants and shrubs you already have. There are several benefits to filling this space strategically, though, starting with color and scale, says Pamm Cooper, an extension educator at the University of Connecticut Home and Garden Education Center. They structure the space, "especially if they are the foreground for a fence, stone wall, or building in the background—or a softener for a hardscape such as a driveway or sidewalk," she says.
Flower borders can also add to the health and beauty of your garden. "They can be whimsical, filled with a diverse palette of textures," says Teri Speight, a master gardener, writer, podcaster, blogger, and the author of Black Flora: Profiles of Inspiring Black Flower Farmers and Florists ($23.99, amazon.com). A flower border can also "create a buffet for wildlife," such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and pollinators, she adds. To find out the best flowers to border your garden, we tapped several experts to get their picks.
"In my opinion, a border should include something unexpected, such as Amsonia Hubrichtii," Speight says. "This perennial starts out with a subtle blue bloom that sits atop slender stems." The gardening expert explains that the foliage rises out of the ground and reaches full bloom come spring. "In autumn, Amsonia quietly glows as the foliage turns a golden yellow," adds Speight.
Zones: 5 to 8
Cooper says this shrub can provide interest all growing season long—plus, it comes in various sizes for multiple placement possibilities in a border. "Some have variegated foliage for further interest and their tubular flowers may be abundant all season or re-bloom, depending upon the cultivar selected," she says. Another perk? Hummingbirds and pollinators are strongly attracted to these flowers.
Zones: 4 to 8
Add a flower to your border garden, like the lantana, that will last year round. "These are basically trouble-free annuals featuring citrus-scented foliage, a variety of flower colors (many of which change as flowers mature), and blooms that last until frost. They are also food sources for hummingbirds, butterflies, and pollinators," notes Cooper. "Annuals like salvias and lantana can be used in borders and varieties can be changed from year to year for a different look."
Zones: 7 to 10
For an edging option that also gives back to nature, Speight loves nepeta, or catmint. "It softens the border's edge, is drought resistant, and the purple-and-blue blooms are simply amazing," she says. "This plant invites hummingbirds and butterflies, creating an amazing and entertaining show in the garden." Plus, the pollinator plant provides an eye-catching, disease-resistant, and long-lasting accent to any border. Cutting the foliage back after the perennial blooms typically provides two to three flushes of color each season.
Zones: 4 to 9
A perennial makes a great addition to a flower border, since it will come back year after year. Cooper recommends a veronica plant, especially the Veronica spicata, or spiked speedwell (one of her personal favorites). "It provides spiked blooms in various colors from spring through summer, and longer if deadheaded," she says. "Veronica attracts bees and butterflies and is resistant to deer and rabbits."
Zones: 6 to 9
Since the dahlia comes in a range of heights, floral textures, and colors, Speight recommends this perennial to add personality to your flower border. On the shorter end, dahlias reach up to 12 to 18 inches and add a refined touch to the garden with the consistent color and height. "Dahlias can also accent specific areas of the garden, as they stand 36 to 48 inches tall or even higher," Speight says. Some of the biggest benefits of planting dahlias are the long bloom time and their versatility (these are perfect to pick for indoor flower arrangements!). These flowers blooms from early summer until the first hard frost of autumn.
Zones: 8 to 10