Horticulture Magazine

An A-Z List Of Popular Flower Names

field of cosmos flowers

Have you ever been stumped as to the name of a particular flower in your garden or around your home?

This alphabetical list of the most popular flower names from across the UK should help to set you right.

Poets such as William Wordsworth, Bill Shakespeare and Samuel Taylor Coleridge have all but exhausted the English language extolling the virtues of a garden in full bloom.

But all their words would be for nothing without the names by which we identify these handsome horticultural specimens.

It makes sense, then, for any green-fingered devotee to learn the names of the floral beauties which catch their eyes.

Not only does it greatly facilitate finding new additions to your outdoor display, but it also provides you with the vocabulary necessary to boast about them to your friends, neighbours and anyone else who will listen.

Without further ado, then, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular flower names from across the British Isles, with their scientific moniker included for an additional frisson of informational intrigue.

African Lily

blue agapanthus flowers
Agapanthus

Variously known as Lily of the Nile, African Lily or Agapanthus, this stunning flower comes in a variety of sizes and colours.

Its versatility makes it an excellent addition to a border or container, while some strains are even evergreen.

Bellflower

purple bellflowers up close
Campanula

As the name suggests, most bellflower varieties adopt a bell-shaped structure, though there are some which resemble flattened stars when in full bloom.

They’re easy to grow and available in a range of hues, making them a popular choice across the country.

Bergamot

spiky red flowerhead of bergamot
Monarda

Easily distinguishable by its unique curving petals that grow tendril-like from the central flowerhead, bergamot has aromatic foliage that is often picked for use as potpourri.

It enjoys an exceptionally long flowering season when deadheaded regularly, making it a great choice for an extended display.

Bird of Paradise

bird of paradise plant in blue and orange
Strelitzia

The eye-catching blossoms of this native to southern Africa have earned it its deceptive moniker – as well as widespread popularity around Britain.

However, its exotic origins mean it won’t tolerate night-time temperatures of below 10°C, so it’s really only suited to the conservatory or greenhouse in the UK.

Black-Eyed Susan

many rudbeckia flower heads
Rudbeckia

With towering upright stems topped by bulbous flowerheads and starry petals, rudbeckias look great in borders, beds and containers.

Annuals come in a variety of different colours, but perennials almost invariably take on the distinctive yellow mantle shown above.

Bluebell

purple bluebell flowers
Hyacinthoides

A common sight in shaded woodlands or meadows across the UK, bluebells make for an excellent choice underneath trees or tall shrubs.

Grown from bulbs, they demand little in the way of maintenance and dazzle with their blue blossoms in the springtime.

Broom

orange broom blooms
Genista

Virtually synonymous with rugged Scottish landscapes, broom is found throughout the UK growing freely wherever the fancy takes it.

It carries a faintly fruity aroma and makes for a pleasing addition to a border or as a standalone shrub.

Buttercup

yellow ranunculus buttercups
Ranunculus

Hardy little critters, buttercups are found in meadows, marshlands and pastures across Britain.

They’re also able to withstand the blades of a lawnmower, which means they crop up in domestic lawns, too.

A favourite of children for their alleged ability to tell whether someone likes butter or not.

Butterfly bush

butterflies sat on buddleja blooms
Buddleja

As an easy-going shrub that demands little attention but brings in pollinators by the shedload, buddlejas are a favourite among gardeners up and down the country.

They carry a mild honeyed scent and are available in a range of colours, meaning it’s easy to tie them in with your existing aesthetic.

Carnation

red carnations
Dianthus

Although carnations are perhaps most commonly seen on the lapels of wedding-goers, they are a vibrant garden choice in their own right.

With lush foliage and bright floral blooms, these semi-hardy perennials will make an attractive addition to any outdoor display.

Columbine

white aquilegia flowers on a mountainside
Aquilegia vulgaris

Equally at home among the damp environs of fens and woodlands as they are on airy mountain slopes, columbines are cherished as a garden plant, too.

The bonnet-like blossoms add a splash of colour to a border in summer, while they’ll also attract bees and butterflies to your property, too.

Chrysanthemum

chrysanthemum flowers in various hues of orange
Asteraceae

There are few flowers more immediately recognisable than the bright and bouncy rosettes of chrysanthemums.

Although they’re fussy creatures which do require handling with kid gloves – especially when dealing with “late chrysanthemums” – they will reward the effort invested in them with beautiful displays in late summer and autumn.

Crocus

purple and white crocus flowers
Iridaceae

Crocus generally blossom in late winter and early spring, bringing a dash of much-needed vitality to borders and rockeries at a time when everything else is still shaking off its slumber.

Daffodil

yellow daffodil flowers
Narcissus

Associated with the month of March, daffodils are spring bloomers that are among the most popular bulbed plants throughout the world.

The distinctive trumpet-like structure of their blossoms is offset perfectly by the dual tones of yellow which characterise most strains.

Daphne

pink daphne flowers with green leaves in background
Daphne

Though small in stature, daphnes are big on impact.

Their diminutive clusters of delicate flowerheads are pleasing on the eye, while the delectable fragrance they exude is a draw for the nostrils, too.

Ideal for smaller gardens, mixed borders or even window boxes.

Daylily

single orange and red daylily
Hemerocallis

Daylilies are as lovely as they are short-lived. The clue is in the title: most species wither on the same day as they bloom.

With a wide range of colours to choose from, and repeated blossoms expected through the year, however, they’re still a hugely popular choice for any back garden display.

Evening primrose

yellow evening primrose flowerheads
Oenothera

A native of North America, evening primrose was first naturalised in the UK in the 1600s.

It’s so named for the bright yellow blooms which only unfurl themselves in the evening, drawing drowsy bees and butterflies to wildlife gardens across the country.

Forget-me-not

blue Myosotis flowers
Myosotis

Perhaps the most romantically named of all the entrants on this list, forget-me-nots are a bold and vibrant spring flower.

Their sizable green foliage serves as the perfect backdrop for the brilliance of their pastel blue blossoms, hanging in the air like an unforgettably arresting cloud of petals.

Foxglove

pink upright foxglove blooms
Digitalis

Characterised by spires of tubular flowers in pink, purple, yellow or white, foxglove plants are almost universally loved for their architectural and aesthetic appeal.

Don’t be fooled by their pretty demeanour, however; ingesting any part of the plant is potentially fatal to even an adult human, so keep children and pets well away.

Gladiola

orange and yellow gladiola
Gladiolus

These impressive specimens hail from South Africa, western Asia and the Mediterranean, depending on the particular cultivar.

With over 300 to choose from, you’re sure to find one which complements your existing colour scheme, though most Gladiola varieties grown today are modern hybrids.

Hyacinth

blue, white and pink hyacinths
Hyacinthus

The delightful star-shaped flowers of the hyacinth plant are crowded so tightly on their stems that there’s little elbow room between them.

This, coupled with their pleasing aroma, is what makes them such a popular option in borders, pots or as cut flowers indoors.

Iris

blue and yellow irises
Iridaceae

Irises generally come in two varieties: those grown from rhizomes and those grown from bulbs.

The former boast sword-shaped leaves while the latter are more lance-like in their structure, but both varieties come in a full spectrum of wonderful colours for their spring blooms.

Larkspur

many upright larkspur flowers
Delphinium

With sturdy, upright stems and intensely bright flowers, larkspurs are a favourite for cottage gardens around the UK.

Not only do they add dramatic height and colourful flair, but they’re also a magnet for bees and butterflies, enhancing the biodiversity of your outdoor space.

They’re also easy to grow in containers.

Lavender

purple lavender blooms
Lavandula

This fragrant evergreen shrub from the Mediterranean is renowned for its calming qualities.

It’s versatile enough to work as a hedge, wildlife garden or potted plant, depending on the variety selected.

For the most easily-maintained results, choose a hardy or half-hardy cultivar.

Lilac

purple lilac shrub
Syringa

Available as both a shrub and a tree, lilac is a classic staple of gardens all over Britain.

Its versatility means it can work equally well in a container as it can in the ground, while its soft pastel tones and subtle fragrance bring a touch of elegance and class to any environment.

Lily

two white lilies
Lilium

Instantly recognisable by their distinctive trumpet-shaped flowers, lilies are a positively charming addition to any garden.

There are an extensive number of varieties available, some of which are capable of exceeding 6m in height, so be prepared for that eventuality when selecting your specimen.

Lily of the Valley

many small bell-shaped lily of the valley flowers
Convallaria majalis

By contrast, lily of the valley is a humble spreader which won’t get ideas above its station, making it an excellent choice for ground cover.

The dainty hanging flowers and the intoxicating aroma they exude mean that it’s popular throughout the British Isles.

Love in a Mist

blue nigella love in a mist flowers
Nigella

This imaginatively titled flower is almost as impressive to look at as its moniker suggests.

With fanned blue petals sitting atop a bed of spiky green fronds and presenting intricately shaped stamen, it’s an eye-catcher for sure.

A native of Mediterranean and North African climes, it’s taken to the British weather remarkably well and requires little in the way of maintenance.

Marigold

calendula flowers
Calendula

These cheerful annuals are hardy enough creatures which tolerate mild frosts without too much fuss, before bursting into life in summer with their bold and vivid blooms.

The flowers of marigolds are edible and are often used as a garnish for salads, cocktails and other culinary concoctions.

Mimosa

mimosa tree
Acacia

Originally from Australia, mimosas are available as trees, shrubs and climbers, though the former is the most commonly found variety in the UK.

When planting, make sure you have enough space to accommodate your specimen, since some strains can grow up to 40ft in height and a spread even larger.

Monkshood

bees harvesting pollen from light blue monkshood flowers
Aconitum

Also known as wolf’s bane, this relative of larkspur was revered for the toxic properties that it carries – it’s rumoured to have been used to lace the tips of barbs and spears with a poison that would kill its prey.

Despite its unpleasant history, however, it’s beautiful plant to include in your garden display, though it remains extremely poisonous, so handle with care.

Moth orchid

pink moth orchid flowers
Phalaenopsis

One of the most readily available types of orchid in the UK, moth orchids are particular about the climatic conditions of their surroundings.

For that reason, they’re generally an indoor plant in Britain, but there is a wide array of varieties available in all shapes and sizes, so you’re sure to find one that complements the feng shui of your home.

Peony

deep pink peony flowers
Paeonia

With some varieties offering blooms the size of dinner plates, peonies are among the most ostentatious garden flowers available.

They generally come as herbaceous (which die away in winter) or tree (which maintain their upright demeanour but lose their flowers and foliage), though a hybrid of both is less commonly found, too.

Peruvian Lily

orange peruvian lily flowers
Alstroemeria

As the name suggests, Peruvian lilies hail from South America.

But despite their exotic origins, they cope with the British climate remarkably well and most gardeners find them both hardy and easy to grow.

They come in a wide variety of colours and styles, all of which make for excellent cut flowers as well as garden additions.

Petunia

petunias in white and pink
Solanaceae

Another native of South America, petunias don’t handle British frosts quite as impressively as Peruvian lilies.

Nonetheless, they remain a popular choice due to their knack for consistently creating a colourful bed of blossoms during the summer months.

Lots of colours and flower shapes to choose from.

Rose

pink rose in focus with others in background
Rosaceae

This far-reaching family of plants contains more than 3,000 members, including well-loved fruits such as apples, raspberries and strawberries.

But it’s the humble rose which steals the majority of the headlines, of course, in part thanks to the scribblings of the Bard and his brethren.

By any other name, it would still smell as sweet – but would it still be a rose?

Sea Lavender

sea lavender plants
Limonium

The foliage of sea lavender is almost as big a draw as its flowers, given that many varieties will change colour throughout the year.

Having said that, it’s certainly the papery petals of its flowerheads which steal the show in midsummer, while they also hold their colour and fragrance remarkably well when cut, making them an ideal choice for bringing indoors, too.

Snake’s Head Fritillary

single Fritillaria meleagris flowerhead
Fritillaria meleagris

One glance at the blooms of this unique plant will leave you in no doubt as to why it has earned its common name.

Not only are the shape of its petals reminiscent of a viper’s head, but all varieties, regardless of their particular colour, carry an unmistakably checked pattern that recalls the mottled skin of a slithering snake.

Snapdragon

pink snapdragons growing in a large garden
Antirrhinum

Easy to grow and guaranteed to add a splash of colour and architectural intrigue, snapdragons are favourites among old-fashioned cottage garden aesthetics.

Their flowering period is more prolonged than many of their counterparts, with blossoms (and the bees and butterflies they attract) going the distance from early June until late October.

St John’s Wort

yellow st johns wort flowers
Hypericum

One of the most versatile flowers on this list, St John’s wort can be evergreen or deciduous, annual or perennial and a shrub or a tree.

Whichever you opt for, you can expect showy yellow flowers that are revered not just for their aesthetic qualities, but their use in herbal remedies, as well.

Sunflower

many sunflower heads facing in the same direction
Helianthus

Their easy-going nature, oversized stature and iconic flowerheads make sunflowers an ideal growing project with younger members of the household.

Although they are famously associated with brown and yellow blossoms, there are other varieties which offer green, white and red flowers, too.

Sweet Pea

sweet pea flowers in red and purple
Lathyrus

Sweet peas are just as effective as border plants as they are terms of endearment.

Although they don’t bear any edible produce, they do boast colourful blooms in a range of colours and look especially impressive when several tones are combined in a single display.

They also have a powerful and pleasing fragrance, too, with even just one vase of cut sweet peas enough to perfume a room.

Tansy

yellow tansy flowers
Tanacetum

The bulbous, button-like flowerheads of the tansy plant, with their unmistakable yellow colouring, have meant they have been incorporated into many a decorative garden display.

They’re also hailed for their medicinal purposes and have a lengthy history of use as a herbal remedy stretching all the way back to Ancient Greece.

Thistle

close up shot of a thistle plant
Eryngium

This iconic flower is the symbol of Scotland and is found growing freely throughout the wild verges, meadows and grasslands of that nation.

But despite their feral nature and their prickly texture, many varieties have been adapted for inclusion in a contemporary garden display.

Tulip

orange and yellow tulips
Tulipa

Tulips are intrinsically linked to the feelings of rebirth and revitalisation of springtime.

Although technically a perennial plant, many modern hybrids have been over-engineered to achieve the best aesthetic result – but at the cost of longevity, with reliable blooms in consecutive years few and far between.

For that reason, many gardeners simply replant tulip bulbs every autumn to ensure strong output.

Windflower

white Anemone flowers
Anemone

Windflowers are one of the few entrants on this list that is perhaps more recognisable by its Latin name than its common counterpart.

They are forest flowers that bloom in spring and hibernate for all the other seasons, before coming back just as strongly the following year.

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