Plants for Herbaceous Borders

Whether annual, biennial or perennial, herbaceous plants are those that lose their leaves, stems and flowers at the end of the growing season. Creating borders with herbaceous plants is a common practice, allowing gardeners to plant new borders in the spring or wait for perennial plants to grow again. There are many herbaceous plants to choose from when arranging a garden border.

Lenten Rose

A member of the buttercup family, the lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is a perennial herb native to parts of Eurasia. Excellent for a mixed border in a shady area of the garden, lenten rose is a striking plant that boasts lush, waxy green foliage accented by early spring blooming white flowers. The plant is very tolerant of shade, and will grow in complete shade or dappled sunlight in USDA zones 4 to 9. Lenten rose grows best in a well-drained, woodsy soil that is fertilized during the spring. The plant should be watered as needed, ideally enough to keep the soil consistently moist to the touch.


A native of North America, the lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) is a striking herbaceous perennial notable for its unusually shaped foliage and its tall stalks of colorful flowers, which range in color from pure white to purple, blue and sometimes even pink. Lupines burst into bloom in late spring, continuing on into the summer. The plant works well as a border plant in a woodland garden. For best results, grow lupine in USDA zones 5A to 9A, in partial to full sun. A neutral or acidic well-drained loam is ideal for this plant. Water frequently, enough to keep the soil moist.

Cardinal Flower

A member of the bellflower family, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a short-lived perennial herb native to the United States. The distinct looking plant boasts a tall purplish brown stalk lined with bright red tubular flowers that are highly attractive to hummingbirds and will bring out many during the growing season. Cardinal flower grows best in full sun to partial shade in USDA zones 3 to 10. The plant is indifferent to soil types as long as it has plenty of water. Cardinal flower is ideal for a border along a pond, because the plant will thrive in completely water-logged soils.

Keywords: herbaceous border, plant types, herbaceous plants

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.