In every home garden, ornamental plants serve as focal points throughout the landscape. A list of ornamental plants can range from flowering plants to grasses to trees and more, all of which serve different purposes. Some provide colorful highlights, while others act as borders or backdrops.
Certain ornamental plants last for many years, but others may need to be replaced each year. Finding the right mix of ornamental plants for your home landscape depends upon your own personal likes, your area's growing conditions, and the USDA plant hardiness zone where your garden is located, if you're growing perennials.
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Flowering Ornamental Plants
Annuals and perennials are common flowering ornamental plants that add color throughout your home garden. For instance, bulb flowers such as tulips, daffodils, irises, hyacinths and day lilies provide a variety of color in spring and summer. When planted in fall, these flowers do especially well in areas where they receive full sun. As perennials in certain hardiness zones, they will return again and again for several years.
Although annuals won't return every year, flowers such as marigolds and zinnias add a powerful punch to your home garden or landscape. Easy to grow, they don't require a lot of maintenance, so you can enjoy them all summer long without putting in a lot of gardening time. To add some color and height to your garden, hollyhocks, delphiniums, primroses and gladiolas provide color on long stems that reach heights up to 6 feet tall. They look great on their own or as backdrops to shorter flowers.
Shrubs as Ornamental Plants
Shrubs serve many purposes in your yard, such as borders, privacy screens and backdrops to flower beds. However, thanks to their own individual characteristics, they also make gorgeous ornamental plants. For example, with their large, fluffy snowball blooms, bigleaf hydrangeas are very popular for their burst of color from spring through summer. As the flowers start to fade, the change in their coloring is ideal for fall decorations and cut-flower arrangements.
Getting a head start on spring and summer color, forsythia explodes with vibrant yellow flowers in early spring. Once the blooms start to fade, the shrub's dark-green foliage takes over. In fact, they are ideal for creating a fast-growing flowering hedge, reaching heights of up to 10 feet. To keep color in your garden, camellias bloom in cool weather, so they will add a bright spot as other ornamental plants start to go dormant for the season.
Grasses as Ornamental Plants
While not always the first consideration for your garden, grasses as ornamental plants are actually a great addition. They are very low maintenance, don't require regular mowing and can add color to your yard. As a great example, Japanese blood grass begins the growing season with green blades with red tips but transitions to all-red blades during the season. Pampas grass features a full-green base with white or pink feathery flowers that sprout at the end of long stalks. These add a soft touch to any garden.
Liriope, or lily turf, is a shorter ornamental grass that is ideal for borders. With purple flowers, it can provide a touch of color while warding off deer and rabbit that like to nibble on your ornamental plants. Like pampas grass, Indiangrass has a wide base with soft, plumelike seed heads that look similar to flowers. During the growing season, Indiangrass sports blue-green blades, but it takes on a deep-orange to purple hue during the fall.
Trees as Ornamental Plants
Flowering trees are another way to add ornamental plants to your landscape. In the spring, dogwoods come to life with their white or pink flowers, which give way to deep-green leaves during the summer. Come fall, those leaves turn a reddish-purple color before they yield to winter.
Available in colors such as pink, white, purple and red, crape myrtle can stand alone as an ornamental plant or can complement other ornamental plants in your yard. Ideal for hot, sunny climates, it blooms throughout the spring and summer. Well known for their large, fragrant blooms, magnolias also serve as a centerpiece in your yard. Once their flowers are spent, their waxy green leaves continue to provide beautiful color.
As you can see, there are many ornamental plants you can add to your yard and garden, ranging from flowers to trees. As an added bonus, all of these ornamental plants are perfect for cut-flower arrangements so you can enjoy them inside as well as in your garden.