Pale foxglove flowers in a pink and cream mixed border

Plants for the middle of a border

Check out some of our favourite perennials, shrubs and climbers to grow in the middle of a border.

Plants growing in the middle of borders are likely to be surrounded on all sides, so need to stand up to competition from other plants while looking good.

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Clump-forming perennials do a great job of this, but don’t discount the tall, thin plants with spire shaped flowers, as they help to break up planting schemes and add height.

Whichever plants you go for, be sure to include plenty of pollinator-friendly plants. Take a look at some of the best plants for bees to get you started.

Finish off your border plans with our selection of plants for the front of a border and plants for the back of a border.

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Check out some of our favourite plants to grow in the middle of a border.

Elegant and airy, thalictrums are unfussy plants with starburst flowers.

Echinaceas

Bright-pink echineceas
Bright-pink echineceas

Echinaceas will vary in height depending on the cultivar you grow, but most will fall between 50cm and 100cm tall. They’re fantastic plants for bees, come in a range of colours and combine beautifully with other clump-forming perennials like phlomis and veronicastrums.


Thalictrums

Light-purple, starry thalictrum flowers
Light-purple, starry thalictrum flowers

Elegant and airy, thalictrums are unfussy plants with starburst flowers. Many, including Thalictrum aquilegifolium ‘Thundercloud’ and Thalictrum tuberiferum can be grown in shady spots. Be sure to support them to prevent flopping.


Euphorbias

Tall spires of lime-green euphorbia flowers
Tall spires of lime-green euphorbia flowers

Few plants can match the zingy tones that euphorbias provide. A diverse group, you can find euphorbias to grow in both sun and shade. Some of the best colour and form comes from Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii. Find out how to prune your euphorbias.


Clematis

Purple clematis growing up an obelsik
Purple clematis growing up an obelsik

As well as growing tall plants in your borders, height can also be added by growing climbers like clematis up supports like wigwams and obelisks. This is best for clematis in pruning groups 2 and 3, which are pruned each year. You could also grow annual climbers like sweet peas and thunbergia.


Salvias

Deep purple salvias with blue cornflowers
Deep purple salvias with blue cornflowers

Salvias come in a glorious array of colours, but in the middle of a border, do be sure to grow one of the larger growing types such as Salvia confertiflora, ‘Amistad’ or ‘Mulberry Jam’. When it comes to salvia care, be sure to follow these golden rules.


Monarda

Bright-pink, shaggy monarda flowers
Bright-pink, shaggy monarda flowers

Monardas are robust, clump-forming perennials with charming shaggy flowerheads. Citrus-scented foliage is an added bonus. Keep deadheading them to prolong flowering – extending the colour and providing extra pollen and nectar for pollinators.


Dahlias

A variety of dahlias growing together
A variety of dahlias growing together

With their huge array of flower colours, dahlias can be adapted to suit a number of border styles, from vibrant exotic gardens to relaxed cottage gardens. They’ll reliably provide a long season of colour, too. Find out how to plant out dahlias in your borders.


Phlomis

Yellow flowerbuds and silvery foliage of phlomis
Yellow flowerbuds and silvery foliage of phlomis

Phlomis are a classic choice for herbaceous borders. The whorls of flowers attract bees and can be left on to provide winter interest. For yellow flowers, consider Phlomis fruticosa or Phlomis russeliana, or for pink blooms, check out Phlomis tuberosa or Phlomis cashmeriana.


Rudbeckias

Golden rudbeckias amongst grasses
Golden rudbeckias amongst grasses

Rudbeckias are a favourite addition to herbaceous borders, providing bright shots of colour in late summer and autumn. For the middle of borders, go for a taller cultivar like ‘Herbstsonne’ in deeper borders, or ‘Goldsturm’, which is a bit shorter, in smaller borders.


Foxgloves

Spires of pale foxglove flowers beside purple aliums
Spires of pale foxglove flowers beside purple aliums
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Tall, spire-shaped plants like foxgloves are essential for providing contrast to other plant shapes and habits. Foxgloves are especially useful if you have a shady border to fill. Check out some of the best foxgloves to grow.


Tidying up your borders

To keep your borders looking their best, keep on top of them by deadheading spent flowers and propping up flopping stems. Watch this video for advice on how to cut back spent border plants.

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