5 SIMPLE STEPS TO PRETTY (AND PRACTICAL) PLANT COMBOS

You can do this! Our tip sheet will help you create the garden you're imagining!

Making a Case for the Common Plant

I'm gaga for gardens; a flower floozy; a hortiholic—or however you'd like to characterize someone who takes great joy in sleuthing out their next plant acquisition. But I'm open to a wide range of possibilities when it comes to selecting plants for my home garden or client gardens. The longer I've been gardening, the more I've come to believe that some of the best garden plants can be very common and/or widely-grown. 

However, it's not uncommon to hear longtime gardeners dismissively declare that they dislike a particular plant, accusing it of being pedestrian, old-fashioned, ubiquitous, or unimaginative. I beg to differ. Common plants are typically common because they are easy to grow and easy to use successfully. They’re doers—reliable and trustworthy, and they’ve been around forever. And yes, it's easy to find lots examples of them being grown poorly and/or in uninteresting ways. But I challenge the assertion that these are "bad" plants and suggest instead that they just need the right partner to bring out their best qualities. 



advertisement

Like a carefully assembled ensemble cast, a successful planting vignette is a result of the combined effect of the selected individuals, stronger together than each alone. Even a common, ubiquitous plant can be elevated by its association with a complementary partner—each player adding its perfectly-timed contribution of foliage, flower, fragrance, or other pleasing attribute. Paired with a more engaging partner, a ho-hum plant can be energized, updated and given a modern makeover, and before you know it—voila! You have a plant combo worth growing.

Browse the eGardenGo web app for creative planting combinations that rely on common, easy-to-grow plants such as coneflowers, hardy geraniums, fountain grass, hosta, and more!



advertisement


GORGEOUS GARDEN SCENES CREATED WITH COMMON PLANTS


COMMON PLANTS ARE OFTEN THE BEST PLANTS

Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'

Kaleidoscope Abelia

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Agastache 'Blue Fortune'

Hybrid Hyssop

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Aster x frikartii 'Monch'

Frikart's Aster

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Berberis thunbergii 'Orange Rocket'

Orange Rocket Barberry

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Bergenia cordifolia 'Winter Glow'

Pigsqueak

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

view plant

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

Variegated Siberian Bugloss

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'

FEATHER REED GRASS

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Carex testacea

Orange Sedge

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Groundcover, Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat, Morning Sun
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Vintage Gold'

Vintage Gold Threadleaf False Cypress

Type: Conifer, Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Choisya ternata 'Sundance'

Sundance Mexican Orange

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Afternoon Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb'

threadleaf coreopsis

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'

Purple Smokebush

Type: Shrub, Tree
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

view plant

Dryopteris erythrosora 'Brilliance'

Brilliance Autumn Fern

Type: Fern, Perennial
Exposure: Part Shade, Full Shade, Full Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Echinacea purpurea

Purple Coneflower

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'

Elijah Blue Fescue

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Gaillardia grandiflora 'Arizona Red Shades'

Blanket Flower

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Geranium 'Gerwat' Rozanne

Rozanne Hardy Geranium

Type: Groundcover, Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Gold Variegated Japanese forest grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Heuchera 'Amethyst Myst'

Amethyst Myst Coral Bells

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Hosta 'June'

June Plantain Lily

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Part Shade, Full Shade, Full Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

Panicle Hydrangea

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen'

Snow Queen Oakleaf Hydrangea

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'

Blue Star Juniper

Type: Conifer, Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

view plant

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

Hidcote English Lavender

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky'

Shasta Daisy

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'

Japanese Silver Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream'

Compact Heavenly Bamboo

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Filtered Sun, Morning Sun, Open Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Nasella tennuissima

Mexican Feather Grass
STIPA TENUISSIMA
PONY TAILS

Type: Grass / Grass-Like, Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low'

Walker's Low Catmint
CATNIP
NEPETA X FAASSENII 'WALKER'S LOW'

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Afternoon Sun, Full Sun, Reflected Heat, Full Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'

Black Mondo Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade, Full Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki'

Variegated False Holly

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Afternoon Sun, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'

Dwarf Fountain Grass

Type: Grass / Grass-Like
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

view plant

Pieris japonica 'Little Heath'

Little Heath Lily of the Valley

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm'

Black-eyed Susan

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'

Caradonna Sage

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Autumn Joy Stonecrop

Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Sun, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

view plant

Spiraea japonica 'Walbuma'

MAGIC CARPET® Japanese spirea

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Afternoon Sun, Filtered Sun, Morning Sun
Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

view plant

Viburnum davidii

David's Viburnum

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Part Sun, Part Shade, Morning Sun, Filtered Sun, Open Shade, Open Shade
Zone: 7, 8, 9

view plant

Yucca filamentosa 'Golden Sword'

Golden Sword Variegated Yucca

Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full Sun, Full Shade, Afternoon Sun, Reflected Heat
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

view plant


PLANT COMBOS THAT RELY ON COMMON PLANTS

Colorful Foliage Anchors This Plant Combination

Zone: 7, 8
Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Filtered Sun

view combo

Evergreen Foliage Combo for Year Round Good Looks

Zone: 7, 8, 9
Exposure: Full Sun, Morning Sun, Part Shade, Part Sun, Full Sun

view combo

Evergreen Foliage Vignette with Red Astilbe

Zone: 7, 8, 9
Exposure: Filtered Sun, Full Sun, Morning Sun, Part Shade, Part Sun, Full Sun

view combo

Four-season Foliage Garden for Front Yard

Zone: 7, 8, 9
Exposure: Open Shade, Filtered Sun, Morning Sun, Part Shade, Part Sun

view combo

Low Maintenance, High-Impact Front Yard Garden

Zone: 6, 7, 8
Exposure: Filtered Sun, Full Sun, Morning Sun, Part Shade, Part Sun, Full Sun

view combo

Sun-Loving Combination with Zippy Foliage & Flower

Zone: 7, 8, 9
Exposure: Afternoon Sun, Full Sun

view combo

Published July 31, 2021


Join the conversation

advertisement


Recent Posts


Additional Information