Here are my top ten upright plants for vertical interest to use in your garden.

Upright plants are great for adding height and interest to your beds, borders and containers. Not only that, but many make great additions to small spaces with their thin, slender growth rather than spreading and using up any valuable floor space.

1. Perovskia (Russian sage) ‘Blue Spire’

First is a shrub with aromatic leaves that are joined by violet-blue tubular flowers in summer. Plant this sage next to a pathway to appreciate the fragrance whenever you brush past it. Pollinators will also enjoy the flowers of this ornamental shrub.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.2m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered or exposed
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2. Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum (Japanese snowball) ‘Summer Snowflake’

The shape of this shrub will add height with the layered branches full of dark green leaves. The foliage contrasts beautifully with the white flowers that bloom in late spring.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 4m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
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3. Stipa gigantea (golden oats)

This evergreen ornamental grass has arching green foliage and oat-like flowers that ripen to golden-bronze tones. Adding grasses like this introduces movement to the space, and can help soften harsh exteriors and landscape designs.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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4. Euonymus japonicus (Japanese euonymus) ‘Green Rocket’

The neat columnar growth of this evergreen makes it perfect for hedging. However, they lend themselves well to containers, so are a worthy addition to a patio display. The young leaves are pale green, darkening with age. This creates a lovely two-tone effect.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full shade, full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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5. Eremurus x isabellinus (foxtail lily) ‘Cleopatra’

The vibrant orange, dense flower spikes of ‘Cleopatra’ raise upwards above the border. The fluffy flowers also bring texture to the space. So, they’re a win-win for the garden and as cut-flowers where they’ll add some drama to your flower arrangements.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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6. Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) ‘Orange Rocket’

For foliage interest, this upright shrub has rusty-orange leaves that turn green in summer. Then, come autumn they transform to fiery orange-red. Cheery yellow flowers bloom in summer, which are a delight to us with their fragrance, but also to pollinators.

  • Interesting foliage and flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s root) ‘Erica’

The tall stems of this perennial are topped with spikes of purple flowers that bloom from summer into autumn for late-season interest. Their height makes them a wonderful addition to architectural planting schemes as well as wildlife gardens as bees love them.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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8. Cytisus (broom) ‘Lena’

Compact in growth, ‘Lena’ has fascinating flowers that are burnt-orange mixed with yellows and reds for a real spectacle. The flowers are the star of the show when they bloom in spring, joining the tiny green leaves.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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9. Libertia grandiflora (New Zealand satin flower)

Another evergreen choice to add height and structure to your garden is the New Zealand satin flower which has beautiful white satin-like flowers in summer. The bowl-shaped flowers contrast with the leaves that are narrow and grass-like.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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10. Amaryllis belladonna (Jersey lily)

The erect stems of this bulbous perennial are topped with funnel-shaped pink flowers that have a wonderful fragrance. The flowers bloom in autumn, so plant the bulbs in a sunny spot, sheltered from harsh frosts just below the surface of the soil.

  • Flowers in autumn
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows up to 60cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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There are plenty of upright and columnar plants to use in your garden to add vertical interest. This selection will bring height, colour, texture and movement to the space, helping to enhance your garden design.

Find out more about adding texture to your garden:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

Adding texture
Adding texture
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