14 Vertical Plants to Add Garden Drama

Unless your border includes shrubs, annuals and perennials can make it appear low and squat. One way to give your border height is to incorporate plants that are spiky. Here are a few annuals and perennials to consider.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Dowdeswell's Delphiniums Ltd.

Photo By: SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Sam Henderson

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing


Foxgloves are neither annuals nor perennials but biennials, meaning it take two years for them to produce their blooms. Known for their spikes of tube-like flowers, they bloom in purple, pink, white and yellow.


A staple of English country gardens, delphiniums are perennials that can tower more than 10 feet tall with spikes of blue, purple, pink or white flowers.


A favorite for their stiff, erect flower spikes of one to four feet tall, lupines have flowers that are similar to sweet peas and grow in large, crowded racemes of deep blue, purple, yellow, pink or white. 


Reaching up to 9 feet tall and offering a wide variety of bloom color, hollyhocks are easy to grow from seed. Most hollyhocks are biennials, that is, they grow only foliage the first year, flower the second, and die that fall.


Alliums, members of the onion family of plants, are annuals that produce spherical flower heads in purple, pink and white atop stalks several feet high. 


Salvias are a large family of varieties that include both annuals and perennials. Heights are as varied as colors, which include red, pink, blue and purple.


A favorite of the florist industry because of their stalks, gladiola grow from corms, or bulbs, and offers a wide array of colors.


Resembling cattails, this perennial, also known as Blazing Star and Gayfeather, blooms in slender, compact stalks of purple, pink and white.

Ginger Lily

Gingers offer a tropical look to a garden with a mesmerizing fragrance that draws visitors in for a closer look. Many of these perennials reach 6 to 8 feet tall with stiff stalks and lush foliage.


If your border runs near a water garden, consider cattails, which offer long-lasting flower spikes, which turn their distinctive brown at maturity. Just be aware: they are aggressive perennials that can become invasive.

Sweet Peas

This fragrant annual, grown from seed, requires staking, but sweet peas are well worth the maintenance. Offering a wide variety of colors, the blooms last only for a few weeks in spring, however.

Garden Phlox

This old-fashioned favorite perennial blooms in purple, violet, pink and white. Some varieties are prone to mildew, but many newer ones are resistant.


The perennial lobelia, also known as cardinal flower, offers brilliant red bloom stalks that are a hit with both butterflies and hummingbirds.


This is a fall-blooming perennial that sends up bright golden and arching flower spikes.'Fireworks' is a nice compact variety.

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