Plant Types

Woody Plants

Deciduous shrubs

Woody plants that lose their leaves at the end of the growing season are deciduous. Some offer dazzling floral displays before most other plants emerge in the Spring. Many shrubs bloom at other times of the growing season, so you can choose them based on their bloom period to fill gaps when many other plants are past their blooms. Some shrubs have interesting foliage and/or bark, so you can choose them for texture contrasts as well.

Deciduous shrubs lose their leaves in the fall
Early spring blooming deciduous shrub
Many deciduous shrubs bloom at other times of growing season

These are plants that may or may not lose their leaves, depending on your climate. In many instances there are shrubs that are usually deciduous but in southern climates are truly evergreen.

Semi-evergreen shrub
Evergreen shrubs

Shrubs that do not lose their leaves count as evergreens. These include broad-leafed, narrow-leafed, and needled evergreens. They are good to have in wintry climates.

Broadleaf evergreen shrub
Needled evergreen shrubs
Deciduous trees

Same as deciduous shrubs, except trees are larger.

Deciduous Tree
Evergreen Trees

Same as evergreen shrubs, except trees are larger.

Evergreen Tree

Non-Woody Plants


Annuals live for only one growing season. They bloom profusely throughout the growing season, and usually last until the first major frost in your area. You will have to replace them annually, hence the name. They are primarily chosen for their flowers but in some cases for their foliage color and texture, because they provide continuous color throughout their growing season. They are most effective when massed or grouped.

Annuals bloom profusely throughout growing season
Annuals usually last until first major frost
Annuals can be chosen for their foliage too

These are good bloomers (usually not as good as annuals) that generally live for two growing seasons and then die. They spend their first year maturing, and may not produce any flowers. During the second season, they will bloom for extended periods. Often they will self-seed, so you may not have to buy replacements. They are effective when massed or tightly grouped since the flowers are their primary aesthetic attribute.

Biennials spend first year maturing and may not bloom
Tightly grouped biennials

These plants endure year after year, laying dormant during the winter months and reappearing in the spring. They usually have a limited (1-4 week) flowering period, but are widely used because they don’t require frequent replacement and their blooms can be quite spectacular. Since perennials rarely maintain blooms throughout the growing season, you should focus on their shape, texture, and foliage color as well as their blooms.

Massing and grouping are common arrangements.

Perennials lay dormant during the winter months
Perennials reappearing in the spring
Perennials usually have a limited (1-4 week) flowering period
Perennial blooms can be quite spectacular

Like perennials, bulbs bloom for a short time during the growing season. Unlike perennials, bulbs can survive (when dormant) for extended periods without soil or water. Bulbs are usually chosen for their blooms and generally are used to compliment an existing, longer lasting floral display. Spring bulbs (so-called ‘hardy’ or ‘true’ bulbs) bloom while your other plants are maturing, thus giving you some early garden cheer. Bulbs are either massed, tightly grouped, or naturalized by scattering them and planting them where they fall.

Dormant bulbs can survive for extended periods without soil or water
Bulbs can compliment an existing longer lasting floral display
Spring bulbs bloom while other plants are maturing
Tightly grouped bulbs
Naturalizing bulbs by scattering them and planting them where they fall

These include Cacti and other plants that store water in their leaves or stems. They generally prefer desert or tropical sites, although some adapt well to cooler climates. They require little water and generally like full sun conditions. Specimen planting, grouping, and massing are all good choices for planting succulents, depending on their size and shape.

Succulent (Cactus)
Some succulents adapt well to cooler climates
Massing succulents

<– Go back to Module 3: Selection

Botaniworld LLC logo

© 2023 Botaniworld, LLC. Garden Tutor, Grow your world and Site, Style, Selection are trademarks of Botaniworld, LLC.

Scroll to Top