Best plants for herbaceous borders

What is a herbaceous plant

herbaceous plants are mostly easy to grow and look good
herbaceous plants are mostly easy to grow and look good

 A herbaceous plant dies back to the ground in winter, but the roots of the perennial plant stay alive producing new growth as the weather warms up in the spring, the stems are soft or succulent and green, as opposed to brown and woody.

Don't worry to much about positioning in the first year  the "small" herbaceous plant you planted in the front of the border growing to 5ft and the plant you planted at the back of the border disappearing hidden by the plants planted in the middle border, it happens.

Just mark the plant and move it at the end of the flowering season or when you split the clumps up in springtime.


These are some of my favourite herbaceous plants to give a good variety of height, texture, shape and colour to your herbaceous border.

Herbaceous plants can be bought at most nurseries but to save money try your local car boot. Better still grow from seed, Herbaceous plant seeds cost next to nothing, especially if friends and neighbours will let you have some seed from a plant you have spotted earlier in the year or better still a root, when the mature plants are divided in autumn or spring.

 Achllea  plants like sandy soils and  hot, dry, soils, growing to about 3 ft. and flowering in July and August. 

Alstromeria  very colourful summer flowering, growing to about 3 ft. high, great for cutting. 

Anemone Japonica  These herbaceous plants are great for early autumn, OK in shade and exposed positions. Depending on the variety they grow to between 2 and 3 ft. 

Anchusa Italica   Vivid blue flowers in June being of vivid colouring.  spreading and planted in groups  great for filling up a large areas.

Asters (Michaelmas Daisies)  My favourite autumn flowering herbaceous plants with lots of different sorts, colours and heights to choose from.

  Astilbe  These plants have finely divided foliage and plumes of flowers in July and do best in moist rich soil, growing to about 3 ft. More herbaceous plants below............


A few more best plants for.........

shade / 

herbaceous borders / 

clay / 

window boxes / 

pathways / 

Winter colour  / 

dry / sandy soil / 

chalky soil / 

slopes / 

bog gardens / 

ground cover /

Low maintenance / 


Aquilega  Lots  of colour in May and June and OK in shade, grows to about 18".

Delphiniums  tall plants in many shades of blue for summer flowering in the herbaceous border . Slugs love the foliage so will need protecting also staking up.

Doronicum  one of the earliest plants to flower, producing yellow daisy like blooms  in April, about  3 ft. high. 

Erigeron  Very easy to grow, summer-flowering plants that grow to about  2 ft. in height. 

Gaillardia Grandiflora ? Colourful, mostly red, orange and yellow flowers in July, grows to about 3ft. high, prefers lighter types of soil. 

Helenium  Herbaceous plants that will do well in dry poor soils, with colourful, daisy-like flowers  in July and August.

Demerocallis  (Day Lilies),  bright display with a long flowering season. Day Lilies are easy to grow in a sunny posistion and grow to about 2ft.

Lupins These colourful and popular plants are best raised from seed each year in time for flowering in June and July. 

Paeonies  takes a few years to become really established and then grow undisturbed for a years growing to about 2 1/2ft. Different varieties produce colour from pink to crimson.

Phlox - Brightly coloured perennials flowering through June, July and August. growing to about are 3 ft. high. 

Pyrethrum  Very attractive perennial, flowering in June and grows to 3 ft. high.

Scabious  Long season of  soft lavender blue flowers through from July to October, very popular flower for cutting. Down side lime in the soil is essential. 

Tritoma (Kniphofia) Red Hot Pokers are popular flowers , flowering from  June to August  does well in a wide range of soil conditions. 

Trollius  Very useful in a herbaceous border, giving colour in May, and ok in damp heavy soil and growing to about 3 ft. high. 

Veronica Teucriain ? One foot high so a colourful plant for the front of the border, flowering in June.

Alstromerias lots of exotic colour lastsing for months. 

Asters, a splash of bright, fresh colour  to keep the season going.
Hostas loved mainly for the foliage from spring through to late summer. 

Lupins for distinctive colour and delicate shape during early summer.

Rodgersias attractive large palm-like foliage that forms a luxurious background for the pink or white flowers on long stems above.

Poppy orientale, adds fresh colour to the herbaceous border in early summer.

Camassia bulbs add colour between the early yellows of spring and later warmer colours of summer.

Perennial Plumbago blue and white flowers that last all summer long.

Jovellana is a suckering herbaceous plant that is covered in flowers.


Adding height to your Herbaceous borders

Herbaceous borders planted in November will be bursting with colour from spring through to autumn, to get that informal cottage garden look try to get some height into your borders.

Foxgloves, Lupins, Delphiniums and Hollyhocks are four fairly easy to grow and maintain herbaceous perennials that will add height to your herbaceous border and give you that cottage garden look.

  • Lupins are an old-fashioned perennials happy in both sun or partial shade, slugs love them, so be prepared to defend them. Cutting back faded flowers encourages flowering into summer.
  • Delphiniums will give a lovely display, but are the most difficult to look after. They like a sheltered sunny spot and can grow up to 6ft so will need staking, again slugs and snails love em. 
  • Foxgloves are quite happy in shaded areas of the border, are biennial and will self seed, so you could be selling them on your own car boot stand next year!
  • Hollyhocks produce spires of rosette-like flowers through from July until September and like full sun and good soil, you will need to stake Hollyhocks as they can grow up to 9ft. 
Plant them in groups of three for more effect and getting them in as soon as possible gives the roots plenty of time to establish before flowering time. They will add height, colour and an informal cottage garden look to your borders and are well worth the extra bit of TLC you will need to give them.
You can buy them at your garden center, but better still have a look around the local car boot sales and gardening friends gardens, a lot cheaper and they will have been grown in soil similar to your garden, so will take better.