White in the Garden

Learn how the color white affects you and your garden. Then discover the best ways to use white, both alone and in combination with other colors.


A Myriad of Possibilities

Iceberg rose

White brings out the true hues of any color with which it's paired. Place a white flower next to green and it takes on a greenish tinge. The same phenomenon happens with yellow, pink, or blue. White has many personalities; it takes colorful companions to bring out white's myriad possibilities. Yellow-tinted white, or cream, harmonizes with almost every other flower color, as does variegated cream-and-green foliage.

An all-white garden cools and calms. Some gardeners design elegant white-flower refuges. A simple white palette paints borders with endless intrigue when white flowers mingle with a variety of leaf textures and colors: the bold with the fine (white coneflowers with lacy white yarrow), the diminutive with the smooth (candytuft with hostas). Large white flowers, such as lilies or Matilija poppy, lift the garden's horizon with simple, bold focal points. The delicate finery of baby's breath, Queen Anne's lace, or snow-in-summer breaks up reflected light for an effect of glimmering romance.

See some of the best white flowers for your garden.

Datura and nicotiana

A popular choice for garden furniture and structures, clean, bright white says: "Welcome. Sit here. Walk this way."

Silver and silvery blue set off white, illuminating it. Although white provides a luminous divider for other colors, it can appear dimmed in gray climates. Avoid an overabundance of white in desert climates by subduing its harsh glare with equal amounts of silver and green.

Related Feature: One-Color Gardens

Ways to Use White in the Garden

Lily-of-the-valley
  • Highlight a focal point at the end of a path with white flowers or a white container.
  • Among the most spectacular white-flower trees for landscapes: davidia, snowbell, magnolia, and dogwood. Some birches feature white trunks.
  • Against the backdrop of a white fence, paint with the boldest plant colors possible, such as orange and scarlet.
  • Light up your garden with white versions of these common plants: ageratum, cosmos, heliotrope, rhododendron, clematis, bee balm, and bleeding heart.
  • Embroider white lace into your borders with these airy white flowers: rockcress, baby's breath, 'The Pearl' yarrow, and gooseneck loosestrife.

Related Feature: Design for a Moon Garden

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