Horticulture Magazine

14 Plants Suited To Front Door Entrances

exterior of old country house with turquoise painted front door and climbing plants and shrubs

Your front door is the focal point of your dwelling and perhaps you’d like to adorn it with floral decoration.

But plants come in numerous habits and sizes, and blooms in diverse shapes and colours! Which to choose?

We provide guidelines as to how to match plant to entrance, with a preference for cold-hardy evergreens, and also make specific suggestions for particular types of dwellings.

window and painted door of a home with climbing ivy and small round trees

Some plants are just tailor-made for positioning at the front door entrance.

The size, habit, form, and colourations all combine to create that touch of aesthetic appeal, to signal a cheery welcome, or, perhaps, make a style statement.

One has to account for all the many kinds and styles of dwellings, and we’ll try to offer some guidance on this point.

Another point to consider is the size of your entrance and dwelling and the size of the plant.

exterior of an old cottage home with daffodil plants in terracotta pots

Though we do not suggest that you place a small pot of Forget-me-Not at a ten-foot-high oak door, if you do so it will seem like an exceptionally dainty touch.

But if you have a small front door and a small dwelling, placing a big, tall, bushy plant by it will result in visual disharmony – it will ‘look awkward.’

Here we go then with our 14 Front Door Entrance plants in no order of preference but with an indicator as to the type of home each selection is best suited for. 

1) Geranium

pink flowering geraniums on the steps of a home entrance
  • BOTANICAL NAME: GERANIUM
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: G. pratense Plenum Violaceum, G. versicolor
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JUNE – JULY

In a way Geranium is an automatic choice, and there are good reasons why dozens of them have been awarded the RHS’s AGM.

Many of these super-hardy perennials are good to grow by the North Sea.

Put them once in a planter by your front door, but you will have to prune them!

As they come in quite a variety of forms and habits so be sure to choose the right kinds as only some are suitable for front door entrances.

Geranium himalayense plenum birch double purple flowers
Geranium himalayense ‘Plenum’

Accounting for flowering period we suggest G. pratense ‘Plenum Violaceum’, G. versicolor, G. x oxonianum ‘Beholder’s Eye’, G. x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink’, G. ‘Latwijk Star’, G. erianthum, and G. ‘Elworthy Eyecatcher’.

The simple, sweet flowers are usually in soothing, pastel tones – and don’t forget those unusually pretty lobed leaves.

Place clumping or bushy types of a good height with long flowering season, such as the ones mentioned above, in a big planter or in the ground.

Best for large, simple, uncategorisable family dwellings, especially in the northernmost reaches. 

2) Gerbera Daisy 

red and yellow flowering gerberas in  a rectangular planter
  • BOTANICAL NAME: GERBERA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H3
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Garden Jewels Series
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JUNE – AUGUST

As a consequence of the United Kingdom’s regional climates and Gerberas’ tenderness-hardiness, these plants are considered half-hardy semi-evergreens in much of the UK.

Not so the ‘Garden Jewels’ series – these plants are fully hardy, thus you get evergreens and can enjoy their greenery year-round.

And it’s very pretty, comprising decorative scalloped leaves in neat basal rosettes.

As for the large double disk-shaped flowers with those series and layers of long rays, they are a sight to behold.

pink flowers of Gerbera ‘Garden Jewels’ Fuchsia Variety against the backdrop of a wooden table

In vivid hues through the warm spectrum, they project joy and exuberance.

Topping everything off, the blooms start sometime in spring and finish well into autumn!

We recommend ‘Yellow,’ ‘Red,’ ‘Fuchsia,’ and ‘Frosted Hot Pink.’

Place Gerbera ‘Garden Jewels’ in any old clay pots.

Best for any house that is full of noise, life, and children – or any home that is lonely and could use the joy of Gerberas.

3) Azalea

an azalea shrub blooming in pink with home and front garden in background
  • BOTANICAL NAME: AZALEA (RHODODENDRON)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Encore Series
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: MARCH – APRIL, JUNE – JULY, SEPTEMBER

What could beat a fully hardy, evergreen, bush with rich, dusky green foliage that bears bunches of the loveliest funnel-shaped flowers in fantastic colours of pastel shades or vivid tones, and is floriferous to boot?

An Azalea does not have to be a large sprawling bush; you can get suitably-sized varieties including dwarves or you can simply keep pruning the desired variety.

And there is no need to mess around with an Azalea from one season to the other – put it once by your front door and your entrance will be lit up forever.

An Encore Series Azalea Bush next to a large garden pergola

Encore Azaleas will bloom intermittently in spring, summer, and autumn.

Choose whichever varieties that are to your taste, though we have specific recommendations for the type of dwellings identified below.

Use Encore Azalea varieties with white and off-white, and intense orange and intense red, flowers in decorative container or the ground.

Best for Georgian houses or dwellings of substantial size.

4) Carnations

a flowering dianthus plant in a small pink container
  • BOTANICAL NAME: DIANTHUS
  • HARDINESS RATING: VARIES
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: John Sandall, Brian Tumbler, Pennine Treasure
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JULY – AUGUST

Carnations, delicate, frilly, and ruffled are a top choice for bouquets but they make among the loveliest container plants.

The flowers are heart-achingly lovely and the tissue-thin intricately arranged petals seem to impart a sense of fragility.

Some varieties’ flowers are flecked or even broken, delicately edged, or are picotee, and these attributes enhance the gentility of these flowers.

Don’t forget the narrow leaves whose delicacy matches that of the blooms.

magnified view of pink and white flowering Carnation ‘Gran's Favourite’

And this chalky greyish-green foliage is evergreen and many varieties are fully hardy so you can place them at your entrance once, and not worry about them.

The varieties we suggest are only nominally bushy, are classic specimen plants, and rise to a good 50 to 75 centimetres.

Carnation ‘John Sandall’, ‘Brian Tumbler’, ‘Pennine Treasure’, ‘Gran’s Favourite’, ‘Spinfield Joy’, and ‘Leon Tautz’ are among our favourites.

Best for Tudor-style houses, and any dwelling that radiates the dignity of age. 

5) Mountain Cowslip

Purple primula auricula in a brown plastic container with stone wall in the background
  • BOTANICAL NAME: AURICULA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Gwen, Dill, Joyce
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: APRIL – MAY

Auriculas are very small plants so they are most suited for smaller townhomes and smallish entryways.

These plants’ diminutive character actually enhances the charm of the tiny salver-shaped flowers that are often intensely coloured with a central disk (called the farina), and are frequently gradated, striped, flecked, or broken.

The broad sea-green leaves are neatly arranged and are evergreen so the plant can stay year-round near your entrance.

Colourful Auricula plants with various coloured flowers placed in long terracotta pots

The supremely ornamental flowers occur in clusters during spring and if you feed the plants appropriately, you’ll get blooms through spring!

Some have longer blooming seasons than others, among which are some delightfully pretty cultivars: ‘Gwen’, ‘Dill’, ‘Joyce’, ‘Taffeta’, ‘Arundell’, ‘Remus’ and ‘Red Gauntlet’.

Utilise Auricula in small decorative pots or a large planter.

Best for spick and span, trim suburban homes.

6) Primrose

a pair of primrose filled baskets hanging from the corner of a shed
  • BOTANICAL NAME: PRIMULA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Danova Series
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JANUARY – MAY

The classic English Primrose is associated with spring but the long-blooming Danova Series’ varieties go one better because they bloom nearly through winter and spring so you’ve got both seasons covered with a single plant.

Danova Series Primrose plants are tiny at only 15 to 20 centimetres but are floriferous and bear good-sized flowers in clusters.

They are wide-open and salverform with the petals having that trademark distal notch.

purple and yellow flowers of Primrose ‘Danova Series’ Blue in a garden container

This Made-in-Japan series of plants associated with England offers 13 colours including gentle shades and vivid tones.

All have a bright yellow eye, be it tiny as it is in ‘Blue’ or huge as in ‘Burgundy’.

Any and all of them will adorn a front door with class to spare.

Use Primrose Danova Series ‘Mix’ or ‘Grower’s Select Mix’ in small decorative pots on a ledge.

Best for any cottage-style dwelling that is quintessentially British.

7) Dahlia

red flowering dahlias
  • BOTANICAL NAME: DAHLIA
  • HARDINESS RATING: VARIES
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Ellen Huston, Marston Lilac, Karma Yin Yang
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JUNE – SEPTEMBER

Dahlias are supremely popular as specimen plants on both sides of the Atlantic, and for good reason.

The large flower is exquisitely wrought and its tidy, rigid, and symmetrical multi-petalled form as well as the way it ‘holds itself’ makes it look aloof and regal.

This impression is accented by the height of the plant which ranges from half a metre to a full metre.

They also have long blooming seasons spanning summer and autumn, provided they are deadheaded regularly.

upright flowers of Dahlia ‘Karma Yin Yang’ with red and white petals

There are different kinds of Dahlias so we have selected varieties of the kind best suited for the entrance of a certain type of house.

In general, we suggest clumping – which are essentially erect – or upright habits, and varieties that bear flowers of rich, deep tones.

Dahlia ‘Ellen Huston’, ‘Marston Lilac’, ‘Karma Yin Yang’, ‘Arabian Night’, ‘Kilburn Glow’ and ‘Purple Picotee’ all work well in ornate containers.

Best for Victorian-style houses and for mansions.

8) Hebe

small pink flowers and variegated foliage of a hebe shrub
  • BOTANICAL NAME: HEBE
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Caledonia, Blue Clouds
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JULY – SEPTEMBER

Though many Hebe varieties are unsuitable for front door entrances for one reason or another, two are ideal, and for every reason.

These are ‘Caledonia’ aka ‘Knightshayes’ and ‘Blue Clouds’.

The former is of a mounding form while the latter is more upright.

These evergreens even have pleasant foliage characteristics over and above the laid-back cool greyish-green colour: Caldonia’s leaves are reddish when they emerge; Blue Clouds’s turn purplish in winter.

flowering hebe in a stone container

Both varieties bear a profusion of cute little inflorescences through summer and autumn, one in lilac, the other in purple.

And they’ll bring a bonus: butterflies and bees at your front door!

Hebe ‘Caledonia’ aka ‘Knightshayes’ and/or ‘Blue Clouds’ work well in any large nondescript planter.

For any old large, not-exactly-tidy dwelling occupied by a big family.

9) Persian Buttercup 

vibrant pink flowers of ranunculus in a terrace plant pot
  • BOTANICAL NAME: RANUNCULUS
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Tecolote and Aviv Series
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JULY – SEPTEMBER

The special appeal of the Garden Ranunculus bloom is in its refinement and symmetry.

And those tissue-thin petals in countless concentric series rather make it appear as if the flower was wrought by a master craftsman in Old Europe.

Tecolote and Aviv Series’ varieties are usually of a mounding form with feathery foliage over which the eye-catching blooms rise on 40- to 50-centimetre stems with the flowers being 10 to 12 centimetres in diameter.

Garden Ranunculus ‘Tecolote Pink’

They are excellent specimen plants. Let’s call them ‘Floral Elegance.’

Garden Ranunculus Tecolote Pink and Aviv Purple in decorative containers.

Ideal for Edwardian style houses and for immaculately-maintained and finely-appointed homes.

10) Wallflower

lilac coloured flowers of erysimum
  • BOTANICAL NAME: ERYSIMUM
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Constant Cheer, Fair Lady, Red Jep
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: MARCH – NOVEMBER

The Erysimum genus of ‘Wallflowers’ comprise a very varied range of varieties including evergreens.

Among these there are three that are small to petite in size, have long blooming seasons, and are very floriferous as well.

‘Constant Cheer’ will conjure up a six-month supply of clusters of little flowers primarily in pinks and purples.

Wallflower ‘Red Jep' variety with red and purple flowers

The ‘Fair Lady’ and ‘Red Jep’ varieties are about as floriferous though not with as long a blooming season but ‘Fair Lady’ beard flowers that are bi-coloured and brilliantly gradated mainly in the yellow through red spectrum while ‘Red Jep’ produces flowers in vivid, electric hues.

Best for all styles of cottages and ‘simple’ homes.

11) Treasure Flower

Gazania treasure flowers blooming in round pots, with windows in the background
  • BOTANICAL NAME: GAZANIA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H2 / H3
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Tiger Stripes
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JUNE – AUGUST

Many Gazania varieties’ flowers are brilliantly-hued and project vitality and good cheer.

Now a big plus point for a plant you’d like to set at your front door is a long blooming season, and ‘New Day Rose Stripe’ offers that in spades.

It starts flowering well before summer and continues after it ends!

Above clumps of deep green foliage emerge large open flowers with narrow, tapered petals.

single Gazania ‘New Day Rose Stripe’ flower in focus

Each petal is off-white with a longitudinal crimson stroke, as if made by a brush!

You can go with the very popular ‘Tiger Stripes’ or ‘Tiger Eye’ instead.

Ideal for modern-styled suburban Millennials’ homes.

12) Sweet Alyssum

Lobularia with pink and purple miniature flowers and stone wall in the foreground
  • BOTANICAL NAME: LOBULARIA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H3
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Wonderland White, Rosie O’Day, Easter Bonnet Lavender
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JUNE – SEPTEMBER

This may not seem like a top choice for the front door entrance but it all depends on several variables.

If you live in a small cottage-like home with a constricted entrance, then put an ultra-short, trailing-form Lobularia or ‘Sweet Alyssum’ in a hanging basket and hang it by your door, and bang! – you’ll have the perfect entrance plant.

small tumbling flowers of Sweet Alyssum

Those fulsome bunches of white or light blooms will tumble out of the basket and billow in the wind.

They’ll impart a sweet scent to your entryway, and even bring in a few butterflies!

Though the flowers are small, they occur in incredible profusion for three-plus months.

Sweet Alyssum ‘Wonderland White’, ‘Rosie O’Day’, ‘Easter Bonnet Lavender’, or ‘Golf Series’ look lovely in hanging baskets.

Best for small, cottage-style dwellings.

13) Cardinal Flower

potted lobelia with small purple flowers hung from a front door entrance
  • BOTANICAL NAME: LOBELIA
  • HARDINESS RATING: Mostly H3
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Starship, Monet Moment, Hadspen Purple
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: JULY – SEPTEMBER

No, Lobelia isn’t just a bedding plant – among the innumerable varieties there are a few that will make wonderful front door specimens.

Cold-hardy Lobelia × speciosa and its cultivars are clump-forming with upright, ramrod straight, habits, and rise to 50 to 80 centimetres.

tall pink flowers of Lobelia ‘Monet Moment’

The foliage is especially neat with symmetric leaves which often provide their own colour interest.

’Starship’, ‘Monet Moment’ and ‘Hadspen Purple’ are three of the best varieties that are good to grow in largeish pots and will offer an abundance of flowers in summer and autumn with thrilling, intense hues of red and purple.

Work well in a large country-style dwelling with a large entrance.

14) Hellebore

white flowering hellebore plants in clay pots
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Helleborus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: HGC Wintergold, HGC Pink Frost, HGC Ice ’n’ Roses Red
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: DECEMBER – MARCH

We can’t leave you without proposing a superb plant that will light up your front door entrance in the dead of winter right into spring when little else can, and that too with seriously pretty blooms.

And it’s an evergreen with very pretty leaves – they’re deeply divided as if carefully cut, of a rich deep green, and glossy.

Hellebores are quite diverse and not many have attractive flowers that bloom nearly through winter into spring but at least some do: HGC Wintergold, HGC Pink Frost, HGC Ice ’n’ Roses Red, Bob’s Best, and Harvington Rebekah, all of which have lovely salver-shaped flowers.

pink flowering hellebore plants with snow covered ground

The first is not ‘gold’ but is pure white, the second is pink, the third, rose-red to maroon, the fourth, white with pink tints, and the fifth, pink picotee.

Welcome your New Year’s Day guests with these little charmers at your front door!

Helleborus varieties HGC Wintergold, HGC Pink Frost, HGC Ice ’n’ Roses Red, Bob’s Best, and Harvington Rebekah look natural in colourful pots.

Suited to any home for the winter-spring season.

The Variables

You should be alert to the fact that if the colour of your blooms is very similar to the colour of the wall around your front door, the flowers will not stand out from the background.

So if the wall by your front door is lilac, it wouldn’t do to set a plant with lilac-coloured flowers there!

various potted plants growing outside a blue painted doorway

On the other hand, you also need to avoid clashing or disharmonious colour combinations.

Likewise, even though the hues may be different, if the respective saturation levels or ‘tones’ of the background and the flowers are about the same, it will look as if the flower is ‘greyed out’ instead of standing out. 

We propose a good rule of thumb to get the colour and tone combinations right.

entrance to an old English cottage adorned by geraniums, conifers and other plants

First, choose complementary colours or opposite colours. If you don’t know these readily, simply look at a colour wheel.

And second, pair colours in contrasty saturations.

So if the wall is in a gentle, pastel shade, the flower should be in a vivid, intense shade, and vice versa.

Habits & Hardiness

snow covered entrance to an old Georgian style house

We have tried to favour, though not limit ourselves to, hardy evergreens and each of our selections is hardy to H4 or greater except Dahlia, Gazania and Sweet Alyssum hardy to H3.

We include classic specimen plants of an erect, upright habit, mounding and clumping ones, and trailing and ‘billowing’ forms as well.

If you have built-in or inset planters on either side of your front door landing, you may especially appreciate our hardy evergreen selections.

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