Plants Buying Guide

Whether you choose a couple of head-turning ferns or a plethora of bright blooms, the addition of a plant will instantly upgrade your garden’s aesthetic. The right one can attract beautiful wildlife and other helpful pollinators, all while improving the ecosystem and general air quality.

You might be eager to get started, but it’s worth stopping and coming up with a plan of action to get the most out of your space. Get to grips with everything you need to know about plants with this handy guide – you’ll soon feel like a professional in the garden.

What to consider when buying plants

You may be tempted to rush out and buy the most eye-catching flowers on the market, but there are many factors to consider before you begin your garden transformation. This guide explores everything from the placement of the plant to the type of soil that works best, so you’ll be able to find the perfect plants for your garden in no time.

As well as considering the more technical side of buying plants, you’ll have to think about the level of commitment you can offer when it comes to maintenance. All plants require a level of care, although some are a lot more durable than others. Succulents are durable enough to survive without much water and are an excellent choice for those seeking a low-maintenance option. On the other hand, there are plenty of plants that are perfect for people seeking a new hobby due to the pruning and extra care they require.

Choosing plants to complement your overall garden design

Your choice of plants should be carefully considered when planning your overall garden design. There are a number of important questions you’ll need to answer from what colour scheme you’ll want in your garden, to what textures your plants will bring to your garden, how much time you’ll have to maintain your garden plants and more. Watch our helpful video on how to design a garden below:

Plants for different areas

While some plants can thrive anywhere due to their hardiness, many flourish to their full potential when planted in a specific type of soil and area. Don’t assume all plants will work with the kind of soil or level of shade your garden offers and take time to research the type of soil you have. You may find one of your plants thrives particularly well in the shade while another may wilt in the same spot.

This is great news for those who have awkward patches in their garden – whether you thought it was too dry or not dry enough, you’ll find a plant that fits in perfectly.

Ideal Plants For Different Garden Areas
Area Description Examples of Ideal Plant
Badly draining soil An area that tends to stay damp and boggy after wet weather or watering. Weigela
Smooth Hydrangea
Sandy loam soil Normally made of sand, silt and clay. Rosemary
Full sun Areas that get lots of sun but not much shade. Pearl bush
Evening Primrose
Shade Areas that are mainly shaded without sun. Actaea
Indoor Plants that will remain indoors. Aloe Vera
Spider Plant

Plants by size

You should always think about the size of your garden before picking out your plants as well as just how much space you want to cover. Some plants spread out to cover more ground while others stand individually and grow taller. Planning your garden layout can prevent plants from overgrowing or taking up too large a space, which can be problematic for other blooms.

Planning Your Garden By Plant Size
Types of Plant Estimated Height* When To Plant
e.g. Aloe Vera
60 – 100 cm, although succulents come in all shapes and sizes. Autumn or spring.
e.g. Red Rose Tree
Typically, three to four feet tall.

Container grown: all year if conditions are good.

Bare root: autumn or late winter to early spring, avoid planting mid-winter.

e.g. Peruvian Lily
Up to four feet tall Spring or autumn.
e.g. Lady Fern
30 – 60 cm with an average spread of 60 – 70 cm. Spring or early autumn.
e.g. Northern Gold Forsythia
Average height of six to eight feet and feet and five to seven feet in width. Any season as long as the soil isn’t frozen or frosted.
Climbing plants
e.g. Clematis
Average height of 15 cm – 9 m, width of 25 cm – 3 m. Spring or early autumn.

* of example plant

Bulbs, seeds or plants?

You’ve most likely heard of bulbs, seeds and plants, but what is the difference between them? It’s easy to tell them apart if you know how, and each brings something different to your gardening experience. You may benefit from getting a small selection of each type and experimenting with which you prefer, if space allows for it.


Bulbs are only found on particular types of plant and are typically planted in autumn, ready for them to sprout in the spring. They’ll flower for a while before retracting and remaining dormant in the cold weather until they bloom again the next year. Bulbs contain all the nutrients the plant needs to make it through winter, acting as a ‘hub’ of sorts.

The great thing about this is that gardeners can simply dig up the bulb and replant it where they like once it lays dormant, making it easier to change up the layout of the garden. Bulbs are much larger than seeds and can be found under the soil with ease.

Popular types of bulb: Daffodil, onions, tulip.


Seeds are produced by plants during the reproductive process and grow a new plant when put in soil. They’re contained in a protective outer casing and tend to be very small in size, making them easy to sprinkle on the soil and sow directly.

Seeds are plant embryos with a hard coating. Once they’ve been planted and watered with the right nutrients, they’ll start growing a plant. Some seed coatings are extra tough and require soaking in advance to help them grow.

Popular types of seed: Sunflowers, poppies, lavender.


As you may have guessed, plants are the result of seeds and bulbs. The term is used for a multitude of different types, including shrubs, trees, herbs and flowers. You can grow them yourself from seeds or bulbs, but many enjoy buying partially or fully-grown plants to achieve instant results.

What plants work well together?

Certain types of plant work very well together in terms of both appearance and encouraging pollination.

Here are some examples of plants that work well when planted together:

  • Garlic and roses: Garlic bulbs help repel garden pests that tend to target roses.
  • Little gem daffodils and chionodoxa: These are spring bulbs that look very striking together.
  • Petunia and pentas: Both are great at attracting beneficial pollinators and complement each other wonderfully.
  • Tomatoes and marigolds: The marigolds ward off pests and harmful insects, allowing the tomatoes to grow undisturbed.
  • Chrysanthemum and chives: The strong scent of chives can help prevent aphids that attack chrysanthemums.

There are plenty of pairings that could benefit your garden significantly, boosting the look of your garden and the growth of the plant itself.

What plants should not be planted next to each other?

Unfortunately, not all plants work well together. From taking up too much space to being greedy with water, there are a few reasons why you should avoid certain pairings – as beautiful as they may look.

Things to watch out for:

  • Be careful when planting small plants next to larger ones as they may block out sunlight and prevent them from receiving enough nutrients.
  • Certain types require the same nutrients as another and planting them together can result in one taking most of the food and water.
  • One plant may attract wildlife that can harm the other.
  • Some strong herbs have an effect on plants.

What are pollinators?

Pollinators are helpful insects that move pollen from one plant to another. More specifically, they transport the pollen from the male anther of one flower to another that has a female stigma. This is a process that is beneficial for both the pollinator and the plants themselves.

Why pollination is important:

Not only does pollination help keep your garden looking bright, it’s also deemed a necessity when it comes to growing fruit and vegetables.

Plants obviously can’t move in order to reproduce, so it’s up to beneficial pollinators to give them a helping hand, resulting in much of the food we eat every day. We wouldn’t be able to grow certain types of food if it wasn’t for pollination, including apples, carrots and blueberries.

What are some examples of pollinators?

Examples of common pollinators are honey bees, butterflies and beetles. It may surprise you, but certain types of birds and bats act as pollinators too. You can encourage pollinators to pay you a visit by choosing the right plants, using a natural mulch and avoiding harsh insecticides.



Writer and expert