Horticulture Magazine

25 Tall Perennial Plants For Height In The Garden

bright red and yellow torch lilies in an outdoor space

A skilled gardener knows that choosing the right plants for your garden is a true art, and that there’s a surprising amount to consider.

You need to think about the size of the garden you are working with, the colours you want to include, and the textures required to help create interest…

A well-layered garden speaks for itself, and stands a cut above the rest.

By including tall plants to contrast with the shorter ones, you can easily create a more dynamic feel to your outdoor haven.

In fact, a study by The University of Vermont found that tall plants are more likely grow successfully in the garden (and by extension: more likely to become invasive). [source]

a garden path with large flowering herbaceous perennials at either side
Herbaceous borders are a popular setting for tall flowering plants.

When thinking about playing with different heights in the garden, try to think about how you would set up a beautiful family portrait.

Not only would you want the colours of your clothing to complement one another’s, but you would also place the tallest people towards the back and the smallest ones front and centre.

The same goes for choosing the right plants for your garden.

Choosing perennials for height

Whether you are choosing tall perennials for a purpose or planting them just for the enjoyment of it, there are thousands upon thousands to choose from, and picking out the right ones for your garden can be quite the task!

But no need to stress – we’ve collected the best towering perennial plants the UK has to offer to get your creative juices flowing, so let’s get started!

1) Lupins

pink and purple lupins
  • BOTANICAL NAME: LUPINUS
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

Kicking off our list of tall perennials are lovely, lofty lupins.

Lupins come in a vast range of sizes, with the tallest varieties passing 2 metres in height.

These striking, splendiferous plants also bloom in almost every colour of the rainbow and, better yet, are super easy to grow and care for.

Lupins aren’t too fussy about soil, but they don’t cope well in soil that’s too wet and heavy.

They grow best in full to partial sun and are absolutely ideal for the backs of borders or to hide an ugly fence or wall.

If you want to learn more about these sensational stunners, check out our article about how to grow and care for lupins here.

2) Beehive Ginger

beehive ginger
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Zingiber spectabile
  • HARDINESS RATING: H1A
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

This tall, erect perennial sports unbranched stems that can reach heights of up to 2.5 metres, and its green foliage will keep you covered with luscious colour throughout the year.

Better yet, come summer, this plucky plant will treat you to pretty little purple and white flowers with yellow spots that sprout from stems as long as 50cm.

This plant gets its name thanks to its unusual, cylindrical, beehive-like structure, making it seriously stand out in a crowd.

Beehive ginger thrives in rich, well-drained soil in filtered sunlight, making it a perfect option for a large indoor pot or container.

This plant can take anywhere from two to five years to reach full height, but its unique style certainly makes it worth the wait.

3) Perennial Hibiscus

towering pink and white hibiscus flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: HIBISCUS
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS OR EVERGREEN

For a taste of the tropics, you simply can’t go wrong with perennial hibiscus.

This impactful beauty can reach dizzying heights of over 2 metres and produces huge flowers of up to 30cm in diameter in seductive shades of red, pink and white.

For optimum results, plant these powerful perennials in moist, well-drained soil in a spot where they can enjoy full sunlight.

Despite its delicate appearance, this hardy plant can withstand seriously cold weather so, even if the ground freezes, this plant will still flourish.

4) Giant Viper’s Bugloss

giant viper's bugloss plants in Cambridge
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Echium pininana
  • HARDINESS RATING: H3
  • MAX HEIGHT: 4M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SPRING / SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: EVERGREEN

Giant by name, giant by nature, if it’s height you’re craving, then look no further.

This plant’s flowering pinnacle can tower as tall as 4 metres and, what’s more, it’s a speedy old grower, taking only one or two years to reach its maximum.

Also known as the ‘tower of jewels’, this evergreen perennial produces blue, funnel-shaped flowers from mid to late summer, making them a charming option for country gardens.

Bear in mind that this plant can spread to as much as 1 metre, so you will need decent space to accommodate it.

5) Giant Fennel

yellow flowering giant fennel
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Ferula communis
  • HARDINESS RATING: H3
  • MAX HEIGHT: 4M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

You’ll have likely seen giant fennel growing along roadside hedgerows in the countryside, and while they flourish in the wild, they are also a popular choice in domestic garden settings.

Whilst most commonly seen blooming in yellow, this perennial can also produce flowers in shades of white and purple and can grow up to 4 metres in height and 1 metre in spread.

Best grown in fertile, well-drained soil, in full sun and with some bracken mulch applied over winter, this plant pretty much grows itself.

You can improve the foliage by removing flowering stems as soon as they appear or wait and do so after blooming.

6) Torch Lilies

close up of a flowering torch lily
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Kniphofia
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: EVERGREEN

If you want to add a touch of fire to your garden, then torch lilies are just the ticket.

This perennial’s stems grow to around 1.5 metres in height and are adorned with red and orange blooms, which give them the appearance of red hot pokers.

This raunchy red firecracker of a plant prefers full sun and well-drained soil and is guaranteed to stand out in a crowd.

If that’s not enough, these boastful, blazing bad boys are attractive to the eye, but they are also irresistible to butterflies and other essential pollinators.

7) Sunflower ‘Monarch’

very tall sunflowers with blue sky and cloud in the background
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Helianthus ‘Monarch’
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 4M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

This gorgeous perennial sunflower simply can’t go without a mention.

Note that many sunflowers are grown as annuals but there are some perennial varieties which are possible to grow in the UK.

When one thinks of tall plants, sunflowers are probably one of the first to come to mind, and the ‘Monarch’ variety certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Growing up to 4 metres in height and producing glorious, rich yellow heads, this plant packs an impressive punch.

Sunflowers are such a quintessential part of a British country garden, and their delightfully whimsical charm makes them such a joy to grow.

For best results, plant your sunflower monarchs in moderately fertile, moist and well-drained soil in full sun.

8) Russian Sage

purple flowering Russian sage
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Salvia yangii
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: EVERGREEN

This ethereal, lavender-like plant produces tiny, lilac-coloured, frothy flowers, which form a serene cloud that will sway gently in the wind.

Russian sage can grow up to 1.5 metres in height and spread up to 1 metre in width, so be sure you have the space available for it before planting.

This purple perennial is extremely tolerant when it comes to soil types but is best suited to well-drained soil and full sun.

This variety of sage also requires no pruning and has very few problems with pests and diseases.

9) Bear’s Breeches

Acanthus mollis in focus
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Acanthus mollis
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

This beast forms flowering spires that can reach as high as 1.5 metres in height.

These brilliantly bold plants sport glossy green leaves and, in late summer, produce tall white flowers with deep, moody, purple bracts.

This vivacious, vigorous perennial will grow in almost any soil type, but if possible, provide it with deep, well-drained loam in a sheltered spot in full sun or partial shade.

As bears don’t tend to wear breeches, it’s unclear as to where this plant’s name stems from, but these majestic plants are a spectacular addition to any garden, providing you have the space.

10) Foxgloves

towering foxglove plants with many pink flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Digitalis purpurea
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

Technically a biennial (or short-lived perennial), foxgloves might ordinarily not be included on an ordinary list of perennials.

However they are well-known to self-seed prolifically, meaning they will come back each year – most likely in greater numbers than before.

The upright flowering columns are awe-inspiring and a huge hit with bees too!

While Digitalis purpurea prefers a partially shaded spot in your garden, it will pretty much grow in most conditions, making it ideal for an exposed area that might otherwise be difficult to grow on.

11) Sword Lily

upright stems of sword lily flowers in red, purple and white
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Gladiolus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H3
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SPRING / SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

12) African Lily

white african lily flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: AGAPANTHUS
  • HARDINESS RATING: VARIES
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

13) Alliums

tall purple allium flowers in a garden border with fencing in the background
  • BOTANICAL NAME: ALLIUM
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

14) Buddleja

large buddleja bush with hedging in the background
  • BOTANICAL NAME: BUDDLEJA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • MAX HEIGHT: 4M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS OR EVERGREEN

15) Delphinium

towering white delphinium flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: DELPHINIUM
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

16) Pineapple Lily

upright purple and white eucomis flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: EUCOMIS
  • HARDINESS RATING: H4
  • MAX HEIGHT: 0.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

17) Gooseneck Loosestrife

white Gooseneck Loosestrife in flower with lush green foliage
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Lysimachia clethroides
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

18) Sneezeweed

bright orange sneezeweed flowers upright in the garden
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Helenium
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

19) Ginger Lily

pillar of orange ginger lily flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Hedychiums
  • HARDINESS RATING: H2
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

20) Achillea

umbels of achillea flowers in a cottage garden
  • BOTANICAL NAME: ACHILLEA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • MAX HEIGHT: 0.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

21) Amsonia

light blue star shaped flowers of amsonia
  • BOTANICAL NAME: AMSONIA
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SPRING / SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

22) Penstemon

tall penstemon flowers in the sunshine
  • BOTANICAL NAME: PENSTEMON
  • HARDINESS RATING: VARIES
  • MAX HEIGHT: 2.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: EVERGREEN

23) Coneflower

coneflowers blooming in a garden with pink petals and spiky stamen
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Echinacea
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

24) Persicaria

flowering persicaria
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Persicaria
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1.5M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SUMMER / AUTUMN
  • FOLIAGE: SEMI EVERGREEN

25) Foxtail Lily

flowers of Eremurus stenophyllus standing upright and tall with a lawn in the background
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Eremurus stenophyllus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • MAX HEIGHT: 1M
  • FLOWERING PERIOD: SPRING / SUMMER
  • FOLIAGE: DECIDUOUS

Why choose tall perennials for height?

Towering plants help to bring structure to your garden year after year, rewarding you with bursts of colour and lofty, dramatic vibes.

But, aesthetics aside, there are plenty of other reasons for wanting to include tall perennials in your garden.

Large pots

Planted in large pots, large flowering perennials can really bring a patio or courtyard to life.

If you aren’t blessed with a big garden, then this is an excellent option to spruce up the space you have.

If you have no outside space whatsoever, you can rest assured as there are also plenty of tall perennial plants that will thrive inside, providing you with a peaceful and tranquil place to relax after a long day.

Living walls

Another option for those of you with a modest-sized garden is to pick out tall perennials to create a living wall – if you can’t grow out, grow up!

Living walls have become increasingly popular over the last decade and are an elegant, space-saving way to enjoy gardening from a completely different angle.

Many perennials will happily allow themselves to be trained vertically, and with a little imagination and care, a living wall can be one hell of a showstopper.

Privacy screen

Are you stressed out by nosy neighbours or passersby having a good old gander into your garden?

Tall perennials can create a perfect privacy screen and shield your little corner of the world from prying eyes.

Not only will this screen provide you with the seclusion you seek, but it will also create a beautiful backdrop for the rest of your garden.

Camouflage

If your property has an ugly wall, or an unsightly fence that is far from easy on the eyes, instead of repainting or replacing, why not save time and camouflage it with some pretty perennials?

Perennials flourish for years, and even when they aren’t blooming, their foliage is lush and lavish and will easily turn a shabby area into your favourite spot.

Stand tall

As you can see, there are countless colossal perennials that can take your garden from zero to hero.

Before you start planting, we do recommend doing your research to ensure you have the space and the right soil to help your new, lofty, looming plants prevail.

A 2011 study by Scientists at Tohoku University found that plants in a crowded state regulate their height so as to maintain a similar height to their neighbours. [source]

So remember, if you want your plants to grow as tall as possible, allow them plenty of space to grow – and don’t grow them alongside shorter plants.

Whatever the size of your garden, you will be able to find a tall perennial that suits your needs, so stand up, stand tall, and start planting.

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