White-flowered plants bring a cool freshness to any garden. They combine with flowers of virtually any other colour in beds, borders and containers and are particularly useful for lighting up shady corners, where their blooms show up especially well.
Their flowers are also the most visible at dusk, so are perfect for a seating area that you enjoy mostly in the evening.
The petals of white flowers are often tinged with another colour – pink, blue or green, for example – which can help you to combine them easily with other plants. Dot them around the garden, or create a white-themed flower border, inspired by the world-renowned white garden at Sissinghurst in Kent.
Many white-flowered plants are richly scented, too which helps to attract nocturnal pollinators such as moths.
Here are 40 of the best plants with white flowers, divided by season.
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Advice on buying plants
- Consider the size of the plants you are buying, how large they will grow and where you plan to put them in your garden - some will suit growing in pots while others will need space in a border
- Check that you have the right conditions to grow the plants you are buying: remember the mantra 'right plant, right place'. Do not place a plant that requires full sun in a shaded part of your garden and vice versa
- Some of the plants listed will be available at garden centres but you will find a wider choice at online retailers
Where to buy plants with white flowers online
White flowers for winter
Camellia sasanqua flowers in in November and December when there are very few flowers elsewhere in the garden. Its foliage is evergreen, giving year-round interest. Grow in acid soil or in a pot filled with ericaceous compost. Height x Spread: 3m x 3m
Sarcococca (sweet box)
This evergreen shrub will provide year-round colour, with the bonus of small but deliciously fragranced flowers from December to March. Grow Sarcococca confusa in sun or shade, in a moist, well-drained soil. H x S: 2m x 1m
Snow, ice and cutting winds do not affect the dainty bells of winter heathers. Some varieties start to flower as early as November but they are usually at their peak from January to March. Grow as ground cover on in containers. H x S: 25cm x 25cm
Daphnes are an ideal shrub for smaller gardens – they're evergreen and have delightfully scented flowers in the depths of winter. Grow one near a path or doorway where their sweet fragrance can be appreciated. Grow in sun or partial shade. H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m
Viburnum tinus is an evergreen shrub with dark, glossy evergreen leaves and fragrant pinkish-white flowers in winter. Grow as a hedge or a specimen shrub in a mixed border in full sun to partial shade. H x S: 3m x 3m
Helleborus niger flowers throughout winter and into spring – look out for it in garden centres around Christmas. Grow in sun or partial shade. H x S: 30cm x 30cm
Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'
Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ bears sweetly fragrant creamy white flowers on bare stems from late winter. It makes an attractive spreading deciduous shrub. It’s extremely attractive to insects, and provides a vital source of winter nectar for early flying bumblebees. Best grown in full sun. H x S: 2m x 3m
Clematis cirrhosa varieties bear fragrant, cream or white flowers, often freckled, in winter. Flowers are followed by whiskery seedheads. The flowers are an excellent source of nectar for winter-active bumblebees. Grow in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered spot, ideally up a pergola, doorway or arch. Frost hardy, it may not survive severe winters. H x S: 2.5m x 1.75m
Snowdrops light up the garden in late winter and are often said to herald the arrival of spring. You can grow them from bulbs planted the previous autumn, buy plants in pots or order plants 'in the green' – ready for planting just after they have finished flowering. They provide early nectar for bees. Grow in partial shade. H x S: 15cm x 10cm
Crocuses follow hot on the heels of snowdrops in late winter, bringing much-needed colour and winter nectar. Grow in pots, allow to naturalise in lawns or grow around deciduous shrubs in a border. Grow from bulbs planted in autumn, in a sunny spot. H x S: 10cm x 5cm
White flowers for spring
Pure white anemones light up a partially shaded corner in spring, forming a white carpet. Try Anemone nemorosa or Anemone blanda 'White Splendour'. Anemones are woodland plants that enjoy a rich, moist but well-drained soil. H x S: 15cm x 15cm
Hellebores start flowering in late winter and often carry on until late spring, so they are are a must in any garden. They are very low maintenance – just give them a feed after flowering – and do best in dappled shade. You can cut the leaves off in spring to better show off the flowers – new ones will soon grow. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for bumblebees and other pollinators, too. H x S: 75cm x 75cm
Spring wouldn't be spring without the cheery nodding heads of daffodils (Narcissus). Yellow varieties spring more readily to mind but there are lots of more subtle white and cream varieties to grow, and some are scented, too. Plant the bulbs in autumn, in a sunny or partially shaded spot, and they'll return year after year. Deadhead after flowering but allow the foliage to die back naturally, to feed the bulbs for next year's flowers. H x S: 30cm x 10cm
Dog's tooth violets (Erythronium)
Erythroniums, or dog’s tooth violets, are grown for their star or lily-shaped flowers with swept-back petals. They are woodland plants, so thrive in a shady border or under a deciduous tree. They grow from bulbs that look like dogs’ teeth, hence their common name (although they are commonly bought in flower). Their leaves appear first, in February followed by flowers. H x S: 30cm x 30cm
Solomon's seal (Polygonatum) has white, pendulous flowers hanging from arching stems. It does best in dappled or full shade – grow alongside other shade-lovers like anemones and ferns. H x S: 60cm x 45cm
Lily of the valley
Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis, bears arching stems of bell-shaped, white flowers with a wonderful perfume. It makes good ground cover in shady spots. H x S: 25cm x 25cm
Tulips come in pretty much every colour imaginable, including clean, crisp whites in a range of flower shapes. Plant the bulbs in autumn, in full sun, in pots or in a sunny border. The petals of 'Spring Green' are attractively flushed with green.
Many clematis flower in spring, including macropetala and alpina types, and Clematis armandii. Their flowers are smaller and less showy than those that flower in summer, but they are often smothered in them. Clematis take up very little room on the ground, and are perfect for covering a fence, wall or trellis.
Rhododendrons and azaleas also come in a dazzling array of jewel-bright colours, but cool whites are also available. They're excellent shrubs for a partially shaded spot that has acid soil. H x S: 2.5m x 2.5m
Philadelphus (mock orange)
Philadelphus is a beautiful shrub that has pure white blooms in late spring and early summer. They are deliciously scented and reminiscent of orange blossom. H x S: 2.5m x 2.5m (compact varieties are available)
White flowers for summer
Astrantias, commonly known as masterworts or Hattie’s pincishion, are cottage garden stalwarts with beautiful pincushion flowers from June to August. These versatile plants are suitable for partial shade and moist soils. H x S: 60cm x 45cm
Jasmines are much loved for their white, fragranced flowers. Grow in a sunny spot – preferably somewhere where you can enjoy their scent. The most reliable jasmines in the UK climate are the evergreen star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides and the common jasmine, Jasminum officinale. Bear in mind that winter jasmine has yellow flowers that are not fragrant.
No garden is complete without a rose or two. There are many beautiful white or creamy white varieties to choose from, including the shrub roses 'Claire Austin', 'William and Catherine' and 'York Minster', or the ramblers including 'Iceberg', 'Wedding Day', 'Rambling Rector' and 'Félicité Perpétue'. Grow in full sun or partial shade.
Oriental lilies are much loved for their large, trumpet-shaped and fragrant blooms. Planted as bulbs, they’re perfect for containers and sunny flower borders. H x S: 90cm x 30cm
Gauras, recently renamed Oenothera, are beautiful and useful in equal measure. Their bushy, informal growth makes them perfect for filling gaps in sunny beds, borders and containers and give any planting scheme an airy feel. They also have a long flowering season, usually from spring into autumn. H x S: 1m x 50cm
The hardy annuals Ammi majus and Ammi visnaga both have beautiful white umbels of flowers that are much loved by pollinators and are excellent for cutting, too. Grow in full sun. For best results, grow your own plants from seed as they can be hard to find as plants – September is the ideal time. H x S: 1.5m x 50cm
Border phlox are stalwarts of herbaceous borders and cottage gardens – long flowering, fragrant and easy to grow in a sunny spot. Largely pest-free and disease-resistant, they last for years in the garden. H x S: 90cm x 50cm
Echinacea 'White Swan'
The daisy-like flowers of echinaceas are at home in all kinds of planting schemes and are much loved by pollinators. Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' has drooping petals and has a striking orange-green centre. Grow in a sunny spot. H x S: 60cm x 45cm
Cosmos are half-hardy annuals that flower their socks off from midsmmer to the first frosts. 'Purity' is a pure, crisp white. You may find plants at the garden centre, but they are very easy to grow from seed. Keep deadheading them as the blooms fade to prolong flowering. H x S: 1.2m x 60cm
The flowers of tobacco plant, Nicotiana, are renowned for their heady perfume, which is released from the trumpet shaped blooms in the evening – plant it near a seating area to really enjoy it. Grow in a pot or border in a sunny spot. Nicotiana plants can be found at the garden centre, but are best grown from seed in spring. Protect the young growth from slugs and snails. H x S: 1.2m x 60cm
White flowers for autumn
Dahlias are known for their flamboyant flowers in a range of vibrant colours, but many white varieties are available, including 'Joe Swift' and 'My Love'. Grow from seed, cuttings or tubers in spring, or buy mature plants at the garden centre. They flower from late summer right through to the first frosts. Stake and protect from slugs and snails. H x S: 1m x 65cm
Japanese anemones flower from late summer to well into autumn. Their open blooms in pale pink or white float on tall stems, above attractive foliage. They thrive in shade (although they will also grow in a sunny spot), cope with dry soil and work well in pots. H x S: 1m x 1m
Varieties of Hydrangea paniculata begin flowering in midsummer and carry on well into autumn, their flowers often taking on new tints of colour over time. Grow in moist, well drained soil in partial shade. H x S: 1.2m x 1m
Abelia x grandiflora
Abelia x grandiflora is an attractive semi-evergreen shrub that bears masses of scented white-pink flowers in late summer and autumn. This abelia is perfect for a sunny, sheltered spot. H x S: 3m x 3m
Michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum)
Michaelmas daisies or asters are best known for their late-season flowers in shades of blue or pink, but some white varieties are also available, including Aster novi-belgii 'White Ladies' and 'Oktoberlicht'. Grow in a sunny spot. H x S: 90cm x 50cm
Erigeron karvinskianus could also have been included in the spring or summer sections of this feature, as it flowers for months on end. This fabulous, frothy plant looks great at the front of a border, growing in crevices in walls and paving, or spilling out of pots. Grow in full sun. H x S: 30cm x 40cm
Nerines put on a beautiful display of lily-like flowers in late autumn, mostly in shades of pink or red, but also in pure white – try Nerine bowdenii 'Alba'. Plant bulbs in spring, or buy plants at the garden centre in autumn. Plant in very well drained soil or snugly in a pot, in full sun.
Colchicums, or autumn crocuses, appear seemingly from nowhere in early autumn – their flowers appear before their foliage. They're actually not crocuses at all, but part of the lily family. Plant bulbs in August to naturalise in grass, under trees or at the front of borders. Flowers range in colour from the palest pink and purple to pure white. H x S: 10cm x 10cm
Chrysanthemums offer valuable late flowers from September through to November. They're best known for their fiery autumnal colours, but white varieties are available. They are often sold as rooted cuttings or small plants by mail order in spring, or in pots at the garden centre from late summer. Grow in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered spot. These perennials can be hardy or half hardy, so check the type before you buy.
Hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen hederifolium, is a pretty hardy perennial, bearing delicate silver-lined dark green leaves and dainty blooms in shades of white or pink, in autumn. It’s perfect for growing at the base of small shrubs and trees and naturalising in grass. H x S: 10cm x 10cm