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Ornamental Plants for Sale - Buying & Growing Guide

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Ornamental Plants – Buying & Growing Guide

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by Mary Van Keuren | Gardener (30+ Years Experience) – last update on December 2, 2021

Although all plants are ornamental for most gardeners, some offer especially spectacular blooms, variegated leaves, or intriguing branch shapes that add interest and focus to your garden, whether indoors or out. Shop ornamental plants to find one that draws your eye, and add it to your own garden.

Types of Ornamental Plants

Type  Growing Zones Mature Height Sun Features
Philodendron, Philodendron 9-12 (frequently grown as a houseplant) 2-15 feet Partial shade: bright, indirect light for 4 hours a day 1,000s of varieties feature interesting leaf shapes and colors; commonly grown indoors; easy to grow
Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae 10-12 (may be grown as a houseplant 5-6 feet Full to partial sun: 4 hours or more of direct light a day Spectacular orange, blue, and red flowers; grows from rhizomes; loves rich soil; large grayish-green leaves
Daylilies, Hemerocallis 3-9 1-3 feet Full to partial sun: 4 hours or more of direct light a day Brightly colored 5 inch flowers in late spring; attract butterflies and hummingbirds; pest-free
American Wisteria, Wisteria frutescens 5-9 15-30 feet Full sun: 6 or more hours of direct light a day Strong-growing vine; voluminous purple flowers in late spring; attractive pinnate leaves
Orchids, Orchidaceae 6-11 (can be grown as a houseplant) 8 inches-12 feet Partial shade: bright, indirect light for 4-8 hours a day Brilliant flowers in a range of colors; glossy dark green leaves; need regular food and water
Amaryllis, Amaryllis 8-11 (can be grown as a houseplant) 1-2 feet Full to partial sun: 4 hours or more of direct light a day Easily grown in containers; large blooms of white, red, maroon, or orange; bulbs are easily forced
Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata 10-12 (often grown as a houseplant) 2-4 feet Full to partial sun: 4 hours or more of direct light a day Upright evergreen perennial with striking leaf structure; disease-free; grows from rhizome; excellent container plant
Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia 6-9 3-12 feet Full to partial sun: 4 hours or more of direct light a day Deciduous shrubs with profuse flowers of pink, red, white, or purple; good flowering hedges; disease-resistant
Lilyturf, Liriope muscari 5-10 1-2 feet Full sun to full shade Ornamental grass with purple flowers; spreads readily; attractive foliage
Tulip, Tulipa 3-8 8-24 inches Full sun: 6 or more hours of direct light a day 100s of varieties; wide range of colors and shapes; short-lived perennials; plant in fall

How to Plant Ornamental Plants

Although every plant has its own likes and dislikes, most ornamental plants will benefit from being planted in fertile soil that drains well and gets the right amount of sun for that variety. Container-grown plants, meanwhile, need a pot that will allow their roots room to grow without being so big that the plant looks lost in it. Most plants benefit from about an inch of water a week, either from rain or supplemental watering, especially when they are newly planted. Mulching with an organic material like bark chips is another good practice that helps protect the root zone and keeps your plant from drying out.

How to Grow Ornamental Plants

  • When. Perennials can be planted in spring after the ground has thawed or early fall before your first frost. Bulbs are best planted in fall. Container-grown plants can be planted at any time, but expect less growth if you plant them during the winter months.
  • Where. Read your seedling’s plant tag to find out how much sun it needs. Also note how big the mature plant will get, and allow enough room around each plant so that it can grow without smothering other plants. Most plants grow best in soil that drains well and is not prone to standing water after a rain.
  • How. Dig a hole that’s as deep as the seedling’s root ball and twice as wide. Plant the plant in the hole and fill in around it with soil that’s been mixed with well-rotted compost or manure. Tamp down soil and water thoroughly.

How to Care for Ornamental Plants

  • Watering and nutrients. Water newly-planted seedlings every few days until you see signs of robust growth. At that point, you need only water when the ground is dry. Feed your ornamental plants with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer designed for landscape plants in spring and as indicated throughout the summer, tapering off by early August.
  • Pruning. Prune out dead, diseased, or broken branches or stems on your ornamental plants. Some may also benefit from deadheading — removing spent blossoms, to encourage more flowers.
  • Pollination. Since you are not growing ornamentals for fruit or berries, pollination isn’t as important. You may be pleasantly surprised, however, to see that your ornamental plants draw pollinators such as honeybees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

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