Vertical Plants for Your Garden

Floral arrangers and garden designers alike use strong vertical accents to bring drama and excitement to round or frilly plants and flowers. Here are a few both tried-and-true and newer ideas to help your own garden look up!

Moth Mullein

Moth mullein adds a nice touch to already-dramatic agave.


Repetition of line is important in small or large spaces alike; these white lupines repeat this white columnar fountain.

Wild Lupines

Felder Rushing finds a field of wild lupines in the English countryside.

Columnar Apple Trees

Dwarf apple trees can be pruned into columnar form for both a nice accent as well as easy picking in small spaces.


Lupines are classic summer accents for cool-climate gardens.


Festival Burgundy Cordyline is an easy and popular eye-catching accent for beds or containers.


Variegated iris foliage is strong visually even without flowers, especially in lightly shaded gardens.


Nodding heads of purple alliums accent foliage of coarser textured hosta in late spring before hosta flowers appear.


Topiary plants such as this pair of sheared bay laurels both accent and tone down a small entry.


Foxgloves naturalize easily in wooded settings, providing contrasting shapes to this stone wall while repeating the lines of tree trunks.

Sheared Shrub

Sheared shrubs make easy year-round accents.

Equisetum Horsetail

Horsetail (Equisetum) plays off the strong foliage of Louisiana iris in a moist garden.

Celebrate Tree Trunks

There are already many vertical features in a wooded garden, such as the light colored trunks of this native birch tree.

Easy Accent

Who says you have to use just plants for accents?

Hard Feature

Whimsical garden features provide instant accent - year round.


Classic cottage garden favorite for vertical accent.


Many gardeners overlook small and common landscape plants such as Liriope, which has great spikes of summer flowers even in shade gardens or containers.

Pride of Madeira

Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) is a superb summer accent for Mediterranean style gardens.

Cardinal Flower

This bench is strongly accented with late summer-flowering native cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

Joe Pye Weed

Even with its oblong lavender flower heads,native Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) makes a strong accent for this contemporary arbor.


A relative newcomer salvia named Eveline is making a splash at flower shows and contemporary butterfly gardens.

Silver Mullein

Silver Mullein (Verbascum bombyciferum) has both outstanding grayish foliage and white spires of small yellow flowers.

Moth Mullein

Moth Mullein (Verbascum chaixii album) is growing in popularity as a native accent for small or cottage gardens.

Blazing Star

Blazing star (Liatris, also known as gayfeather), a native prairie plant known for its cut flowers and butterfly attracting powers, tones down a rustic wagon wheel.

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