What are the Most Popular Garden Plants?

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There’s a reason why some outdoor plants become more popular than others. They might be low maintenance or hardy to the British climate. Perhaps they are easy to grow and fill the garden with colour and fragrance. Maybe they simply look lovely and complement other plants well.

But just because a plant is popular doesn’t mean it’s well-suited to the particular outdoor space you want to fill. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because a plant is popular, it must be able to grow anywhere. Consider the space you have, how much sun and rainfall it gets, and what you want it to look like throughout the year.

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Sunny Spots

A sunny spot is perfect for filling with colourful and fragrant plants that will last all summer long, attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators into the garden. Many popular garden plants love to soak up the sun and, as such, flourish during the summer months.

1. Sunflowers

The sunflower is usually the first flowering plant to spring to mind when thinking of popular plants for sunny areas. They are easy to grow, striking to look at and even bear edible seeds. Sunflowers make an excellent focal point in any garden. Their tall stems make them an excellent choice for growing along a fence or wall, adding height and interest to flower beds and borders.

Because they are so distinctive and simple to grow, sunflowers are particularly popular with families. Children love to watch them emerge from late spring and flower all summer-long.

2. Shasta Daisies

Flowering from summer to autumn, Shasta daisies are easy to grow and extremely robust. The iconic white petals and bright yellow centres suits any style of garden and make excellent cut flowers. When planted in full sun Shasta daisies are reliable, hardy and produce a gorgeous show of striking flowers every year.

3. Fruit Trees

Whether you plan to eat the crops or just like the look of the tree itself, a fruit tree is a great way to add shape, height and interest to a south-facing part of the garden. The most popular fruits to grow in the UK include apples, pears and plums, which all thrive in the environment, providing a high yield year after year. Apple trees are particularly low-maintenance and will grow in almost any condition, which makes them a common sight in gardens up and down the country.

Shaded Areas of the Garden

Parts of the garden that spend most of the day in the shade and don’t get much sun are a little trickier to decorate with plants. Many popular plants for this type of spot are non-flowering but fill the space with beautiful foliage.

1. Snowdrops

The snowdrop is one flowering plant that does flourish in shaded conditions. It loves heavy, moist soils (common in parts of the garden the sun doesn’t reach to dry up rainfall) and is robust enough to push through even frozen ground. Small white flowers appear in late winter and last through to spring. They are often seen blooming underneath trees and hedges.

2. Hostas

Ideal for a north-facing shaded spot in the garden, hostas’ interesting foliage is often variegated. They grow best in full shade but will tolerate partial sun too.

They can be planted in pots or the ground and don’t demand much attention. Hostas are perennial plants that die back below ground level in late autumn in preparation for the cold winter. They come back to life in spring.

3. English Ivy

Instantly recognisable and a prevalent sight in many gardens, ivy thrives in the shade. Its climbing habit makes it ideal for training up fences and walls. As an evergreen, it provides greenery throughout the year. As you’ve probably guessed from its name, English Ivy is native to the UK and grows easily in the British climate.

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Patios and Hanging Baskets

When shopping for patio and hanging basket plants, it’s fun to get creative and form a collection of plants and flowers that bloom at different times of the year. Many pots and baskets get planted with annuals, which only last for one season. So the most popular flowers and other plants tend to be easy to grow and bursting with beauty.

Creating a plethora of colours and fragrances, flowering plants are ubiquitous when it comes to planting up patio pots and hanging baskets.

Patio Pots

Patio pots can turn what might be an otherwise boring area into a bright and eye-catching focal point.

1. Tulips

One of the first signs that spring has arrived is the appearance of tulips in the garden. They flower in mid to late spring and can last for over a month.

Producing a bright show of flowers in a rainbow of colours, tulip bulbs grow very well in pots and containers. While these flowers are technically perennials, you will need to replant bulbs yearly when grown in containers. Ensure the pot has plenty of holes in the bottom to keep the soil well-drained, and place it in a bright, sheltered spot.

2. Daffodils

Frequently seen adorning woodlands and parks, daffodils are cheap and easy to grow, making them a great choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners. Larger pots are best for these flowers, as the roots reach down quite far. Unlike potted tulips, daffodils will return to create a vibrant show of yellow blooms the following spring.

3. Geraniums

Geranium comes in a range of varieties, so it’s easy to find one that suits your patio area. They are one of the most popular garden container plants available, partly due to the striking foliage that decorates the pot when the plant isn’t in bloom. However, their main selling point is the long-lasting flowers that bloom from late spring until late autumn. These colourful plants flourish best planted in well-drained soil in full sun.

Hanging Baskets

Most often hung on porches and close to entrances, hanging baskets welcome visitors with a vibrant show of plants and flowers spilling over the sides.

1. Begonias

Begonias are somewhat shade tolerant and thrive in containers, which makes them the perfect choice for hanging baskets. They have a long flowering season, producing a vivid pop of colour from late spring until the first frost in autumn/winter. Flowering can be extended by regularly deadheading spent blooms.

2. Fuchsias

Fuchsias are low-maintenance outdoor plants that work incredibly well in hanging baskets. They blossom in spring and last through mid-summer to the first frost. Thousands of cultivars are available but trailing and cascading ones work best in baskets, where they can happily overflow.

3. Petunias

Large fragrant flowers in an array of colours make petunia a fantastic choice for a hanging basket collection. Position them in a spot where they can soak up the summer sunshine and make plenty of drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged. Water regularly and remove spent flowers as required. Look after petunias well, and they’ll be the envy of your neighbours throughout the growing season.


Borders are such a versatile part of the garden that they become home to many popular plants of all shapes and sizes.

1. Clematis

Clematis is an extremely popular climbing perennial that is perfect for training up fences to provide additional screening as well as a pretty scene. Clematis tends to flourish best with its feet in the shade and head in the sun. This makes it a good choice for planting alongside other border plants, which can shadow the bottom of the climber while allowing its top half to bask in the sunlight.

2. Rose

Widely regarded as the most popular garden plant in the UK, roses are widespread shrubs, and you don’t need to walk very far to come across one. However, that doesn’t make them boring – far from it! Roses are perennial plants that produce large flowers in various shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, peach, white and purple. They make fabulous cut flowers and are often found in vases around the home. Roses love plenty of direct sunlight but cope with partial sun.

3. Hydrangea

Flowering in mid-late summer, hydrangeas prefer a spot in moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. A hydrangea shrub is hardy to the British climate. The large rounded flowers of the most common varieties last from spring to autumn, and feature charming shades of blue, pink and white.

Even if you don’t recognise the names of some of the most popular outdoor plants, you’ll likely have seen them in other people’s gardens. You might even already have some in your own garden! Plants tend to become popular because they are easy to care for yet catch the eye when the season is in full swing. All the plants mentioned here have been thoroughly tried and tested. Whether you’re looking for stunning foliage or blooms full of beauty, you can’t go far wrong with any of them.

Jen Stanbrook
Jen Stanbrook

Jen is an interiors writer and blogger and has an insatiable love of home style and decor

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