Green flowers for your garden
Gardeners tend to grow green flowers for their curiosity value. While some are strikingly different others are less eye-catching.
Very few are pure green and so we’ve stretched the definition to include flowers that are predominantly green but with an extra splash of another colour here and there, and also flowers that veer towards the yellow end of the spectrum.
For a subtle but fresh colour scheme try mixing your green flowers with white and yellow. Read our suggestions for white flowers and yellow flowers to get started.
Green flowers for a spring garden
Fritillaries kick off our spring selection: the nodding bells of Fritillaria acmopetala are pale green outside and brown inside, with the brown showing through in patches; F. pontica’s green bells are lightly tipped with maroon at the edges; F. pallidiflora has yellowy-green flowers that smell awful.
Another smelly green-flowered plant is stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus – the clue’s in the Latin name – with handsome divided leaves and green flowers dipped in maroon; H. argutifolius has pale green flowers and even nicer leaves – both are evergreen.
Wild arum (Arum maculatum) often turns up in rural gardens – it’s a hedgerow plant distinguished by its unusual pale green ‘cowl’ that surrounds a bold purple spadix (a sort of flower spike).
Some types of ‘parrot’ tulips have striking green feathering on the outside of their petals though they are by no means pure green flowers. ‘Green Wave’ has pink and ‘Rococo’ red. The greenest of all are the Viridiflora tulips such as ‘China Town’, ‘Florosa’ and ‘Spring Green’ – the latter is the closest to a green tulip, being greeny white with bold green feathering.
A green flowering spring shrub
The deciduous spindle tree, Euonymus alata, has small yellowy-green flowers in spring, but most gardeners grow it for its spectacular autumn fruits – bright pink pods that split to reveal orange seeds – rather than its flowers.
Euphorbias, or spurges, are perhaps the best-known genus of plants with plenty of green-flowered options. They all have instantly recognisable cup-shaped flowers either massed together in columns or flat heads and range in height from rockery-sized Euphorbia myrsinites to giant E. characias subsp. wulfenii with its great rounded heads. Some are even honey-scented.
Green flowers for a summer garden
Green summer bulbs
Galtonia viridiflora sends up spikes of up to 30 reliably pale green bells in late summer. Even taller are the flower spikes of Gladiolus ‘Green Woodpecker’, though the flower colour can veer towards yellow, as can the flowers of the bearded iris ‘Robin Goodfellow’ (NB the iris grows from a rhizome rather than a bulb). More exotic summer flowering bulbs include Arisaema triphyllum, which is like a taller version of wild arum, and the pineapple lily, Eucomis bicolor, which sends up flower spikes densely packed with small starry green flowers tipped with purple, all topped off with a tuft of green leaves.
Summer perennials and annuals
Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a member of the cow parsley family with similar-shaped flowerheads of small greeny-yellow flowers. Alchemilla mollis is probably our most familiar ‘green’ flower, with its pretty sprays of frothy greeny-yellow flowers and soft downy leaves. Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ is a variety of tobacco plant that’s a lot taller than the typical tobacco plants sold as summer bedding and with zingy lime-green flowers. Molucella laevis has genuinely green flowers – or does it? Its large green ‘bells’ are, strictly speaking, the calyces that protect the minuscule white flowers in the middle.
A green flowering shrub for summer
Eventually Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ is covered in white ‘snowballs’, but when the flowers first form and open, they are a definite acid-green, gradually maturing through creamy-green to pure white.
A green rose
‘Viridiflora’ is a strange narrow-petalled pompom of a rose in shades of green and brown. In fact the petals aren’t petals at all, they’re bracts, a type of leaf, which explains their colour.
Green flowers for an autumn garden
Green chrysanthemums are the real green deal. ‘Anastasia Green’, Green Mist’, ‘Lime Green Mist’ have traditional spiky-flowered blooms. They are not hardy so must be kept frost-free over winter.
Green flowers for a winter garden
Garrya elliptica is an evergreen shrub that produces extremely long tassels of catkins packed with tiny greeny-grey flowers in late winter/early spring. It’s typically trained against a wall to show off the catkins.