All Green is open and so is gardening! Read about our Christmas Trading Hours here.

What are ornamentals, and how do they work in your garden?

Garden advice
What are ornamentals, and how do they work in your garden?
All Green
All Green
July 20, 2021
minute read

Here's how to include ornamental plants in your garden

Once your landscape shape and design is in place, it's time to make your garden a dedicated area of beauty and grace. But where should you start?

When you're ready to add a pop of colour and interest to your yard, ornamental plants are just the thing.

[content_aside]At All Green Nursery and Garden, we have plenty of stunning ornamentals for your garden or landscape. Visit in-store for expert styling advice and to see our display garden![/content_aside]

What is an ornamental plant?

Ornamental plants are selected purely for aesthetic reasons. Perhaps the plant has delicate flowers, colourful foliage or artful shape. Ornamental plants aren't just flowers. Trees, grasses and shrubs can all serve decorative functions in your garden.

Ornamental plants can be grown in garden beds, pots or container gardens. Different varieties can thrive indoors or outdoors to create a beautiful space.

How to use ornamental plants in your garden

Pink Heath (Epacris impressa)

The primary purpose of ornamental plants is the visual effect that they add to an indoor or outdoor space.

Ornamental plants don't have to be exotic to give variety, colour and elegance to your garden. Choosing native ornamentals that follow the natural theme of your garden also helps to contribute to the local biodiversity where you live.

Create a rainforest effect with native plants

Birds nest fern (Asplenium australasicum) has leathery green foliage reminiscent of native rain forest regions. This plant adds richness to an outdoor garden in full sun or indoors in a container. Mature plants grow up to between 1 and 2 metres, so be sure to allow enough space.

Staghorn or elkhorn ferns (Platycerium) have minimal root systems and can grow on a tree trunk or piece of wood. These unique ferns absorb water and nutrients from the air and grow best in warm, humid conditions with occasional sunshine.

Staghorn or elkhorn ferns add lush green to space without the requirement for heavy soil. These lightweight ferns can grow in a bathroom or shaded outdoor courtyard.

Another ornamental fern ideal for indoor display is the fan palm (Licuala ramsayi). Fan palm grows well in the shade, it's low maintenance, and while it prefers fertile, well-drained soil, it adapts to a variety of soil types.

Decorate a balcony or small courtyard

Ornamental plants in pots are perfect for creating a living feature in your garden, on a balcony or small courtyard.

An ornamental plant can hide a problem spot or display your taste and style. Planting ornamentals in square pots means you can place the plants into corners, neatly filling gaps in a small space.

For a pretty garden space, combine carpet roses with annuals such as pansies. You can underplant roses in a larger pot or container with colourful flowers such as violas. Colours can contrast or flow in harmony to provide a tasteful display.

For example, you can brighten up a space using orange and yellow flowers or combine purple and yellow for a modern flower display. Consider your garden decor and select flowers that complement and contrast.

Darker flowers work perfectly with lighter coloured pots, while darker coloured plant pots complement the colourful foliage of decorative plants such as red fountain grass.

You can even position potted ornamental plants to form a screen or hedge-like effect to give privacy to your balcony or courtyard.

Create a calm and healing environment

Having plants indoors and spending time in a garden close to nature is proven to reduce stress. There's also evidence that ornamental plants in your home or workplace can help to improve creativity, memory and concentration.

Indoor plants such as the beautiful peace lily can help to clean the air and increase humidity indoors, benefiting both your respiratory system and skin health.

Lavender is a pretty purple plant that can grow indoors in pots or outdoors in a garden bed. Its scent promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.

Many ornamental plants also have medicinal properties. Chrysanthemum's vibrant coloured flowers can also be used to make tea and are a staple of Chinese medicine. Chrysanthemum may also help with cold and fever symptoms and reducing inflammation.

Attract birds and wildlife to your garden


Ornamental plants are often flowering plants, providing food for pollinators such as bees and birds. By planting ornamental plants in your garden, you create a place of refuge for declining species in urban areas.

For example, banksia plants produce a lot of nectar, making them attractive to birds. The flowers also grow inside the shrub, providing shelter and protection for birds and bees.

Spiderflower is an evergreen flowering plant that can grow in your garden or in a pot. It produces sweet nectar popular with honey-eating birds.

These are just a few of the many creative ways to incorporate ornamental plants into your home and garden spaces!

Related articles

Powered by EngineRoom